Become a TV Production Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Aug 15, 2018

Research the requirements to become a TV production manager. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in TV production.

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  • 0:00 TV Production Manager…
  • 1:19 Earn Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:03 Get TV Work Experience
  • 2:36 Join a Professional…
  • 2:49 Build Portfolio

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TV Production Manager Career Info

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Arts management, communication, writing, journalism, acting, theater, television production
Experience Internships, acting, writing, theater management, directing, film editing
Key Skills Creativity; communication, leadership, organization, writing, and financial management skills; detail-oriented
Salary $62,576 (2016 median for TV production managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mercy College, Internship postings by employers (October 2012), Career OneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET OnLine, Job postings by employers (October 2012),

TV production managers are responsible for various aspects of creating TV programs, such as coordinating set locations, schedules, equipment, and day-to-day production implementation. They may also supervise production staff members. Some tasks vary with the size of the production. For example, on a small project, a TV production manager may be in charge of all business and financial decisions, as well as selection and interpretation of the script. A large project may have an executive producer who divides these duties among assistant producers.

As TV production managers work in the entertainment industry, competition for these jobs is generally strong. Additionally, producers tend to hire production managers with whom they've worked before, or those who come strongly recommended. Workdays are often long in this field, and projects can come at irregular times.

TV production managers should have strong communication skills, strong leadership skills, organizational skills, writing skills, an attention to detail, creativity, and the ability to manage finances. According to in 2016, TV production managers earned a median annual salary of $62,576.

Step 1: Earn Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is usually required for television production positions, especially those with supervisory or managerial duties. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, relevant majors can include television and film, journalism, communication, or broadcasting. Courses in business or arts administration, as well as nonprofit management, are also valuable.

Competition for entry-level production jobs can be intense, but candidates who get TV production experience through one or more internships while still in school or just after graduation can improve their chances. Some intern positions are unpaid; others offer college credit in lieu of compensation.

Step 2: Get TV Work Experience

Aspiring TV production managers must typically first hold other positions, such as production coordinator and assistant producer, while they learn the craft of producing. Responsibilities in these jobs may involve managing contracts, doing clerical work, and coordinating production materials. Another option is to work in other roles in the TV industry, such as film editor or director, to develop technical skills and gain valuable industry experience. Developing a reputation for being experienced in many areas may help when seeking advancement.

Step 3: Join a Professional Organization

Becoming a member of a professional group, such as the Producers Guild of America, provides opportunities for networking, in addition to access to industry job postings, mentoring, and educational programs.

Step 4: Build Portfolio

Aspiring TV production managers, should also work on as many productions as possible, as soon as possible, to build a portfolio of work that can be used in soliciting new clients and work. They should keep accurate records and archive prior productions in a presentable form for prospective employers. A solid portfolio of quality work is more important than a resume. These professionals should also take as many opportunities as possible to add work responsibilities to advance. Producers and executive producers often start as production managers, and demonstrating competency in multiple aspects of the production process will increase odds of career advancement.

In sum, TV production managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree, but on-the-job experience in the TV, film, and broadcasting industry is what will really help them move up the ranks.

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