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Communication Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a communication technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

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Communication technicians are technical professionals working in a variety of broadcasting environments, such as a recording studio or radio station, where they are tasked with maintaining high-tech equipment and ensuring it functions properly. A communication technician is also required to monitor, troubleshoot and repair complex broadcasting equipment. They typically need an associate's or bachelor's degree in a broadcasting field, although in some cases completion of a vocational program might be adequate training.

Essential Information

Communication technicians work in many settings within the broadcast world. Hired by radio stations, recording studios, cell phone companies and television stations, communication technicians are responsible for the maintenance and proper usage of technical equipment. Requirements vary by job, but all technicians need to complete either a degree or training program from a postsecondary vocational or technical school.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in field related to broadcasting or training through a vocational program/technical school
Other Requirements Prior work experience typically required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% for all broadcast and sound engineering technicians
Median Salary (2015)* $37,490 for broadcast technicians
$41,440 for audio and video equipment technicians
$53,330 for sound engineering technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Communication Technician Job Description

Though job specifics vary by employer, a communication technician is generally responsible for the technical aspects of media broadcast and must ensure that all equipment is working properly. A communications technician may be hired under many job titles, such as sound engineer, video production technician or radio operator. In all of these positions, they are in charge of the upkeep of complex, high-tech equipment.

Additional Duties

Communication technicians are responsible for the correct connection and maintenance of the equipment used by their employer, and they are frequently in charge of checking the finished product to see that all inputs were received correctly and everything either sounds or looks exactly right.

Technicians must be aware of multiple things at all times; they must constantly check to see that everything is going smoothly. When there is a technical difficulty, it is the communications technician who is responsible for determining and fixing the problem.

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Training Requirements

Since the job requires an in-depth familiarity with all the equipment used in making a broadcast, a communication technician needs to have some level of formal education. Some employers require their technicians to have either an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field, while others prefer job candidates who have completed specialized programs in vocational or technical schools.

Technicians working in television or radio stations need to get a college degree in broadcast technology, while technicians in recording studios can attend a vocational school for an audio engineering program that can take between six months and two years.

In addition to the necessary schooling, most communication technicians must get work experience before being hired as a technician. In an entry-level position, potential technicians work under executive technicians and learn how to properly operate all the equipment.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight levels of certification for experienced audio and visual engineers. These can be earned through examinations and give technicians credentialed proof of competency. It is not required for a communication technician to become certified, but it gives employers assurance that the technician meets national standards of excellence in the field.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that broadcast and sound engineering technician jobs will increase by 7% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that in 2015, broadcast technicians earned a median salary of $37,490; audio and video equipment technicians earned a median salary of $41,440; and sound engineering technicians earned a median salary of $53,330.

Depending on the work environment, the necessary training for this profession varies; for example, work in a TV studio requires a degree in broadcasting technology, while completing an audio engineering program at a vocational school is often enough to secure employment at a recording studio. Experienced professionals in this field might also consider earning up to eight levels of certification from the Society of Broadcast Engineers, which may go a long way in assuring potential employers of a candidate's abilities and value. The BLS reports that job opportunities in this field should increase by 7% over 2014-2024.

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