Career Definition for a TV Production Assistant
TV production assistants (P.A.s) hold entry-level positions on a television crew, and they have a variety of duties. P.A.s make copies of scripts, help organize travel to locations, find and deliver equipment, and even make coffee for other crew members. Production assistants put in long hours and work nights and weekends when the shooting schedule requires it.
|Education||No formal requirements|
|Job Skills||Good listener, take direction well, responsible, and efficient|
|Median Salary (2019)*||$36,819 (for all production assistants)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)**||13% (for all film and video editors and camera operators)|
Source: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
There are no formal requirements for becoming a TV production assistant. Many P.A.s are more educated than the position requires. Graduates with degrees in film studies or television production often enter the field as P.A.s and work their way up to other crew positions.
Production assistants are good listeners and willing to take directions obediently from a diversity of people. P.A.s must be responsible and efficient in completing their tasks in order to prevent costly delays in the filming schedule. The College Board, www.collegeboard.com, emphasizes that P.A.s who pay attention and learn other crew members' roles have the best chances for career advancement.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for film and video editors will see a 17% increase from 2016-2026, and the number of jobs for camera operators is expected to increase 7% during that same decade; competition for television production jobs is fierce.
PayScale.com reported that production assistants earned a median salary of $36,819 as of April 2019. According to the BLS, as of May 2018, film and video editors earned a median annual salary of $62,650, while camera operators brought in $54,570 that year. Television production schedules are not year-round, and P.A.s typically have gaps in their employment between production jobs.
Alternate Career Options
Careers that are similar to a TV production assistant include:
Directors work closely with producers of film, television, and stage productions. Directors choose scripts and actors to fill roles. They also oversee creative decisions, like set design and lighting. Possession of a bachelor's degree in film or a related subject is common among directors; however, previous relevant experience as a screenwriter, cinematographer or other film or stage professional is highly valued. According to the BLS, jobs for producers and directors are expected to increase 12% from 2016-2026; directors and producers earned a median salary of $71,680 in 2018.
Sound Engineering Technician
A sound engineering technician operates the equipment used for recording and mixing audio during events and productions. To get a job as a sound engineering technician, completion of a postsecondary program is common, as is on-the-job training. Voluntary professional certification is available. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 6% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. The median pay for this job was $52,390 in 2018, also per the BLS.