Master Control Operator: Salary and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a master control operator. Get a quick view of the details about schooling, career information, job duties, and salary statistics as well as voluntary certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

A master control operator works in broadcasting, focusing on device transmission. Postsecondary education in broadcast technology is required, though certification is optional. The salary for this career differs by industry.

Essential Information

Master control operators, also known as broadcast technicians, oversee, execute, and monitor the transmission of radio and television programs. Working as a master control operator requires technical ability, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of broadcasting rules and regulations. Entry-level positions in this field typically require an associate's degree. Qualified graduates can pursue voluntary certifications.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in broadcast technology or a related discipline
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% for broadcast & sound engineering technicians
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $37,490 for broadcast technicians

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for a Master Control Operator

Master control operators operate equipment used to transmit programs over the air, as well as oversee and ensure that programs are aired as scheduled. Master control operators manage and execute many features of on-air broadcasts, including controlling volume, ensuring that there is no dead air, recording programs, and inserting a station's identification. They also must have knowledge about Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations in order to monitor both the content and technical aspects of radio and television broadcasts.

Education Information

The minimum education for becoming a master control operator typically is an associate's degree, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Broadcast Technology. Coursework for a broadcast technology degree program generally includes topics in electronic media, studio production, and video editing. Writing courses and an internship at a radio or television station might also be included in the curriculum. While an associate's degree may be suitable for entry into this career, some individuals go on to obtain a bachelor's degree for possible career advancement.

Certification Information

While certification is not mandatory to work as a master control operator, voluntary credentialing is available. The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers several certifications, including Certified Radio Operator (CRO) and Certified Television Operator (CTO). Applicants for these credentials are tested on FCC rules and regulations, as well as their knowledge of master control panels, satellites, transmitter control and recording systems, and telephone-interface and audio delay equipment.

Salary Information for a Master Control Operator

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, indicated that broadcast technicians earned a median annual salary of $37,490 in May 2015. In the same year, technicians working in television and/or radio broadcasting earned an average (mean) of $41,590 a year, per the BLS. Additionally, larger employers generally provided master control operators with benefits, such as health insurance, vacation time, and pension plans.

An associate's degree in broadcast technology or a related field is needed to be a master control operator. Certification, though not required, is available in a variety of specializations, and may help potential candidates standout in a field forecast to see average job growth over the next few years.

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