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How to Become a Radio Broadcaster: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a radio broadcaster. Research the education and career requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career as a radio broadcaster.

Do I Want to Be a Radio Broadcaster?

Radio broadcasters present news, sports, gossip, music and currents events over the airways to an audience. They may also interview guests and promote local events and festivals. Radio stations often focus their content on a certain subject or area. For example, some stations will play rock or country music, while others will broadcast sporting events or news shows.

In addition to working on the radio, broadcasters may also make promotional appearances. Some of these workers are self employed, which allows them to set their schedules and possibly work from home. However, the radio industry can be stressful, with plenty of deadlines. Many radio stations run 24 hours a day, which might require some late hours.

Job Requirements

While a high school diploma may be all that is required to work as a radio broadcaster, employers typically prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree. Enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in a subject like journalism, broadcasting or communications can provide students with an opportunity to gain experience in the field and prepare them for work in the industry. The table below includes the main requirements to become a radio broadcaster:

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma is standard, but many employers seek a bachelor's degree*
Degree Fields Journalism, communications, broadcasting *
Experience Previous experience varies by employer **; however, experience in college radio or television stations is beneficial*
Key Skills Strong speaking, research, reading and writing skills, ability to interview and moderate guests, provide commentary to callers and news stories*
Technical Skills Operation of broadcast automation systems, control and mixer boards, CD player**
Additional Requirements Able to work weekends, holidays and evenings as necessary**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job postings by employers (September 2012).

Step 1: Complete Training

Information from O*NET OnLine states that 36% of radio broadcasters have a bachelor's degree, while 27% just have a high school diploma. Education and experience requirements vary by employer, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that radio announcers should have a bachelor's degree to remain competitive in the field. Majors such as journalism, communications or broadcast communication may include courses in speech, news reporting, broadcast writing, sound production and interpersonal communication. Prospective radio broadcasters also must become familiar with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations.

Success Tip:

  • Complete a broadcasting internship. Some schools have radio stations that allow students to work on the air. Many aspiring broadcasters enhance their on-air and behind-the-scenes skills by interning or working at a radio station. The on-air experience can also be used in putting together a demo for prospective employers. While interns will perform tasks such as getting coffee and making copies, they may also screen phone calls, edit promotional clips and write scripts. Interning can also help prospective broadcasters develop connections in the field and network so that they can obtain an on-air job.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Employers typically look for candidates with at least one year of radio experience, but sometimes as much as three years. On-air talent could begin by filling-in for other announcers. Although most broadcasting jobs are concentrated in large, urban areas, it's typically easier to break into the field in a small market. At smaller stations, roles may be less specialized, allowing workers to gain broad experience; for example, an entry-level broadcasting position may include working the overnight shift. However, small, privately owned radio stations don't offer much opportunity for advancement, so it may be necessary to change jobs to move to positions of greater responsibility.

Success Tip:

  • Obtain other job-related experience. The BLS noted that radio broadcasters often perform multiple tasks than just speaking on-air. Some tasks future radio broadcasters could learn while working in smaller markets could be updating social media posts, selling advertising space and appearing at promotional events.

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