Become a Production Assistant: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a production assistant. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career as a production assistant.

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  • 0:00 Should I Be a…
  • 0:30 Career Requirements
  • 1:05 Steps to Be a…

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Should I Be a Production Assistant?

Production assistants (PAs) work on television, news, and film sets assisting production staff. They may review rough cuts, arrange schedules, track invoices, and provide basic administrative support. Some PAs may assist sound and lighting technicians. Work hours are often long and may become stressful as a deadline approaches. Periods of unemployment might occur between projects.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Film-related field
Experience Previous experience through a formal training program may be preferred by some employers
Key Skills Must be detail oriented multi-taskers who are able to follow directions and work well under pressure; have familiarity with Final Cut Pro and knowledge of DVD production programs
Median Salary (2016)* $35,174

Sources: * (2016), (September 2012)

Steps to Be a Production Assistant

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Employers may prefer graduates with a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate degree programs in film and television production or film studies are available and often include hands-on or cooperative work experiences. Courses in these programs teach students about the equipment used in production and the different aspects of pre-production, production, and post-production techniques and processes. Students in these programs also study film writing, directing, lighting, sound, acting, and editing.

Some employers prefer assistants who can use editing software programs. Learning how to use these programs, such as Final Cut Pro, may be beneficial when seeking a position.

An internship with a film, television, or production company can be a good way to gain hands-on experience. Internships are a starting point for building a resume, can also provide networking opportunities, and may lead to full-time employment after graduation.

Step 2: Complete a Training Program

Some organizations offer four- to six-week production assistant training programs. In these programs, in addition to production courses, students complete hands-on learning opportunities. These programs may also assist students in finding jobs after completion, and some may even provide two years of employment to program graduates.

Step 3: Begin Working in the Field

Employment for production assistants is available in major cities; however, New York and Los Angeles usually offer the majority of work opportunities. While relocation to one of these cities may need to be considered, film and television shows are filmed throughout the country, making it possible to find a local position. Production assistants usually must be willing to work flexible schedules. Many of those aspiring to careers in film work as production assistants to gain experience and move up in the industry.

Aspiring production assistants should have a bachelor's degree in film studies, film and TV production, or a related field as well as knowledge of a post-production editing software such as Final Cut Pro.

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