Media Production Careers: Options and Requirements

Degrees in media production typically cover direction, hosting and broadcasting topics. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for media production graduates.

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Media production is a group effort. It takes producers, directors, editors, and sound engineering technicians to set a believable scene. All of these career paths require expertise developed through postsecondary education.

Essential Information

Degrees in media production are generally offered at the associate's or bachelor's level. Media production programs teach students technical skills in editing, sound and light, field production and camera operation. Additionally, students may choose to specialize in a specific media field, such as broadcasting, interviewing or writing for television or electronic media. Many media production degree programs offer internships, which allow students to gain hands-on experience in the industry.

Career Title Producer/Director Film/Video Editor Sound Engineer Technician
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Associate's degree or postsecondary certificate
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% 18% 7%
Median Salary (2015)* $68,440 $61,750 $53,330

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

A variety of media production careers may be found in filmmaking and broadcasting, including Internet broadcasting, and with the recent boom in broadcasting technology, media production is no longer confined to a few movie and television studios. In addition to the job titles listed below, there are a variety of other media production positions available, including camera operator, television production assistant and visual effects (FX) artist.

Producer/Director

Producers and directors oversee all aspects of a production, such as television programs, motion pictures or live performances. In addition to films and television, media production includes radio programs, commercials, infomercials, music production, music videos, video games, public service announcements and short films.

Some media producers work in post-production, which includes animation and graphics, titling, subtitling, close-captioning and adding credits. Additional employment venues for media producers may include theme parks, cruise ships and regional festivals. Theater producers might find work with repertory companies, dinner theaters, drama schools and conservatories.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 9% increase in jobs for producers and directors during the 2014-2024 decade. The same source noted that the median annual income for producers and directors was $68,440, as of 2015.

Film/Video Editor

Film and video editors take raw footage and organize it before it is presented to viewers. Employment in this field was expected to increase by 18% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. In 2015, the BLS listed the median annual income for these professionals as $61,750.

Sound Engineer Technician

Sound engineering technicians, who may also be referred to as recording engineers or music editors, record and mix music and/or sound effects that are used in television shows, movies and other forms of media. These professionals use computers and special recording equipment to synthesize audio and incorporate music for dramatic impact. According to the BLS, jobs were expected to increase by 7% during the 2014-2024 decade. The same source noted that these professionals earned a median annual income of $53,330 in 2015.

Media Production Educational Requirements

Many trade schools, colleges and universities offer undergraduate or graduate programs that prepare graduates for careers in media production. Undergraduate degree choices include Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees; the more technically oriented career tracks are typically Bachelor of Science programs. Many programs offer internships, which provide authentic experience and networking opportunities.

A media production curriculum is typically hands-on, with teams of students working on a piece of media together. Depending on a student's interests, undergraduate courses may include performance direction, television interviewing and hosting, film or television writing, electronic media writing or animation. Core courses might include mass media law, elements of film, elements of broadcasting and media techniques. Students might specialize in documentary and public affairs programming production, narrative media (including film and television) or sports media, in addition to other options in this multifaceted field.

Although the BLS predicts a steady stream of new openings for all three of these career paths, competition for jobs will still be intense. Film is a highly attractive and fairly lucrative industry. Developing experience and extra skills through postsecondary education may help applicants break into this tough job market.

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