Become a Broadcast Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 05, 2020

Research the requirements to become a broadcast technician. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in broadcasting.

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Becoming a Broadcast Technician

Broadcast technicians, also known as broadcast and sound engineers, often work at radio or television stations. They are responsible for installing, maintaining and updating video and audio equipment. The role of a broadcast technician sometimes overlaps with the role of a lighting technician because most productions or presentations need synchronized sound, video, audio, and lighting effects.

Broadcast technicians who work for radio stations may have to work in the evenings or on weekends. Those who work for television stations often work in a climate-controlled studio, but they may also have to work on location, possibly setting up or running equipment outdoors in all kinds of weather.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Educational requirements could include a certificate or other non-degree award, associate's degree or bachelor's degree
Degree Field(s) Electrical or electronics engineering, broadcast technology, computer networking
Training Apprenticeships can be helpful
Experience 2-7 years of experience, depending on employer
Key Skills Attention to detail, problem solving, physical dexterity, proficiency with specialized tools and technologies, computer skills
Salary $40,080 (2018 BLS median for broadcast technicians)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Find Apprenticeship

The first step towards becoming a broadcast technician is to find an apprenticeship. Many broadcasting firms and organizations offer apprenticeship programs for aspiring broadcast technicians. Apprenticeship experience is an excellent way to become acclimated to the field of broadcasting and to acquire hands-on training with the equipment commonly used in the industry. For example, the NEP Group, a broadcasting company, offers 2-year paid broadcast technician apprenticeship programs.

Step 2: Obtain a Certificate or an Associate's Degree

The second step towards becoming a broadcast technician is to earn a certificate or degree. Many colleges and universities offer broadcasting technology programs. Some schools also offer certificate or diploma programs and/or associate's degree programs in the field of media and creative arts. Courses in these programs could include introduction to broadcasting, broadcast announcing and production, video editing, and television production. Students can enroll directly into associate's degree programs, or they can choose to transition from a school's certificate program to a school's associate degree program. Students can pursue their bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering, broadcast technology, or related fields. Courses include radio and TV audio controls and techniques, fundamentals of video production, writing for electronic media, and law and the mass media.

Completion of certain programs may automatically qualify a student to apply for certification through the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). To earn the Certified Broadcast Technologist credential, broadcast technicians must pass a proficiency examination that consists of 50 multiple-choice questions covering electronic fundamentals, safety, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules.

Here's a success tip:

  • Complete an internship. An internship with a campus or local broadcast facility provides the opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience and network with potential employers. Additionally, national broadcast stations may sponsor internships.

Step 3: Gain Experience

The third step towards becoming a broadcast technician is to gain experience. Graduates of at least certificate or associate's degree programs are prepared to take on novice broadcast technician jobs. Potential employers can include broadcast repair facilities and television and radio studios. Students can inquire about these jobs from their schools' academic advisers, or they can peruse online job ads.

Here's a success tip:

  • Become an NABEF apprentice. The National Association of Broadcast Education Foundation (NABEF) provides a paid apprenticeship program for graduates of broadcasting technology or related programs. The apprenticeship program can be completed in 6 months. Graduates of the program also have the opportunity to earn the Certified Broadcast Technologist designation.

Step 4: Continue Training

The fourth step towards becoming a broadcast technician is to continue training to advance your career. Most broadcast technicians begin their careers in smaller stations and markets. As they gain experience, they are able to move to larger, more lucrative markets. Experienced technicians can also move up into supervisory positions within companies as they gain seniority. Keeping up with the rapid technology change also broadens career opportunities, as employers need technicians who understand the latest technology. Take advantage of both on-the-job training and continuing education to keep current with emerging digital technology.

The steps towards becoming a broadcast technician include finding apprenticeships, earning a certificate or degree, gaining experience, and continuing to train.

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