Chief Station Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Sep 18, 2019

Professional certification is an optional credential for chief station engineers. Get some quick facts about the training and skills necessary to qualify for chief station engineer jobs.

Chief station engineer responsibilities combine the management of technological assets as well as station administrative tasks. This position can be highly stressful and may require long and irregular hours. To become a chief station engineer involves completion of a training program paired with radio or television broadcasting experience, and relevant certification can be helpful in finding work.

Essential Information

Chief station engineers manage technicians at radio, television, and multimedia broadcasting stations. Professionals in this field must have high technical aptitude to maintain and operate station equipment, as well as communication and management skills needed to oversee technician teams. Certification through professional organizations such as the Society of Broadcast Engineers may improve job prospects.

Required Education Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree
Other Requirements Certification available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% for all sound engineering and broadcasting technicians*
Median Salary (2018) $52,390 for sound engineering technicians; $40,080 for broadcast technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chief Station Engineer Job Description

Professionals in this field manage engineers and other technicians at broadcasting stations. Chief station engineers make sure that broadcasting equipment works correctly and that all workers are on schedule for their designated duties. Chief station engineers may specialize in one broadcasting field, such as radio or television. Others may work at multi-media broadcasting stations. Due to the tight deadlines and around-the-clock broadcasting schedules, chief station engineers usually work overtime and may experience high levels of job-related stress.

Chief Station Engineer Job Duties

In September 2016, employers listing job postings for chief station engineers on stated that job candidates would be expected to complete managerial tasks, such as organizing meetings, making schedules, planning budgets, and evaluating employees. Many of these same employers also expected chief station engineers to supervise technician teams during live broadcasts, video transmissions and post-production. Other duties may include scheduling regular equipment maintenance appointments, overseeing equipment installations and implementing FCC compliance standards.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some major job duties associated with this career field include communicating, problem-solving, and making technical repairs ( Chief station engineers have to give workers instructions, but they also have to listen to coworkers and communicate any potential problems to upper management. While most problem-solving does involve fixing or altering equipment, problem-solving can also include other tasks, such as fixing scheduling conflicts or settling disputes between coworkers.

Chief Station Engineer Employment Outlook

Between 2018 and 2028, the BLS predicted that open positions for broadcast and sound engineering technicians - which includes chief station engineers - were expected to increase faster than the average. Although the BLS anticipated a job opportunity increase, the BLS also pointed out that many broadcasting stations were being bought out by larger conglomerates, which has a significant effect on job growth rates.

Interested applicants may experience major competition for jobs, according to the BLS. Workers with experience using multiple types of equipment may have better chances of securing employment. Additionally, although earning certification is still voluntary in this industry, applicants who hold certifications - from organizations like the Society of Broadcast Engineers - within certain broadcasting specialties may find more job opportunities.

Salary Information

The BLS indicated that the mean annual salary earned among sound engineering technicians was $63,500 in May 2018, while broadcast technicians earned a mean of $46,770 per year. Those technicians working in radio and television broadcasting made an average of $44,260 the same year.

Chief station engineers manage the staff, equipment, and schedules for their workplace. Their daily duties require strong skills in problem-solving, communication, and experience with repairing technical broadcasting equipment. They may find employment in multi-media broadcasting stations or they can specialize in radio or television broadcasting.

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