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TV Production Career Information and Education Requirements

TV production is a broad field that includes many different jobs. Continue reading for an overview of the training as well as career and salary info for some of the more popular career options.

Although most careers in in TV production such as producer, camera operator or video editor require a bachelor's degree, significant work experience in the field and strong networking skills may prove to be just as important. Learn about a few common professions in TV production and find out some details of the duties involved in each job.

Essential Information

TV production involves many different professionals working together to create a finished program for entertainment or informational consumption. Those working on a television show might perform their duties during pre-production, filming, or post-production. Most professionals possess a bachelor's degree and a working knowledge of the television industry.

Career Producer Camera Operator Film and Video Editors
Required Education Most professionals have a bachelor's degree Most professionals have a bachelor's degree Most professionals have a bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Significant related work experience Working technical knowledge of their devices Working knowledge of digital manipulation software
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for directors and producers)* 11% (for film and video editors and camera operators)* 18%*
Median Salary (2015) $68,440* $55,740 (for film and video editors and camera operators)* $61,750*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

There are many jobs in TV production and they are as wide and as varied as that long list of credits that role at the end of your favorite TV show. The following are just three jobs that one might consider if hoping to work in television production.

Producers

TV producers help finance television shows and make final decisions regarding all levels of production. Levels of engagement for producers vary depending on the size of the project and their personal interest. While some may insist on overseeing every aspect of pre- and post-production, others are satisfied simply acting as financiers and taking a hands-off approach. While most producers possess a bachelor's degree, the only requirement for entrance into this field is extensive related experience and knowledge of the television industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median salary for all producers in 2015 was $68,440. According to the BLS, jobs for directors and producers are expected to increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024.

Camera Operators

TV camera operators film footage for use in entertainment and informational programs. They usually take orders from directors and cinematographers, and they're expected to make judgment calls during live broadcasts. Camera operators should understand the technical properties of their devices and possess a working knowledge of TV production. Most camera operators have a bachelor's degree in broadcasting or film. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in May, 2015, camera operators earned a median salary of $55,740. The same group is expected to experience an 11% growth in job opportunities from 2014 to 2024.

Film/Video Editors

Editors in film and video manipulate footage and determine the order of shots in order to produce a coherent piece of television. Editors may have assistants whom they entrust with maintaining a database of raw footage. Because of the increased use of digital recording, especially in television production, editors should have a working knowledge of digital manipulation software. Most editors have a bachelor's degree in broadcasting or film. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for film/video editors in May, 2015 was $61,750. Jobs in this field are expected to increase by 18% from 2014 to 2024.

Types of TV Production Jobs

While there are many different jobs in production, it is broken up into three main categories: preproduction, production and post production.

Preproduction

There are many details that have to be attended to before filming, or production, can begin. Screenwriters need to write scripts; art directors need to build sets and coordinate camera angles and lighting with the director, producer, director of photography, gaffer and key grip; casting directors assist in the casting process; production managers need to hire crew, handle insurance, union paperwork, payroll, meals and any other details needed for the production.

Production

Although there are some location shoots, production for TV shows tends to be on a set so crew members don't have to travel for long periods of time like they do for movie productions. The hours can be very long, and range from tedious and slow to very fast-paced and stressful, depending on the production schedule and budget.

Actors, directors, cinematographers, camera operators and gaffers work to capture the scenes on film. Hair, make-up and wardrobe departments transform actors into characters. Sound engineers and boom operators record dialogue. Script supervisors ensure script continuity. Art department assistants handle props, and production assistants run errands, control traffic, keep the set tidy and help in any other way required to get the job done.

Post Production

Editors and assistant editors look through the raw footage for the best shots and put them together to create the pace and continuity of the show. Sound editors add the sound effects, dialogue and music to complete the production. Computer graphics and special effects are also done in the post production stage.

Education Requirements

There are colleges and universities that offer an associate's or bachelor's degrees in TV production. Students learn about all areas of production, including media law and ethics, writing, directing, technology innovations, digital media, camera, sound, lighting and editing while getting hours of useful hands-on experience. That being said, getting into TV production requires experience, connections and a willingness to work very hard more than a formal education.

While a TV production degree or a related degree in media, film, journalism or broadcasting can be helpful, generally positions in this industry are earned by hard work, talent, experience and connections. Many TV producers started out as production assistants and worked their way up the ladder; the same is true for gaffers who become directors of photography or extras who become actors. TV production can be very stressful and challenging - careers are built by those who rise to the challenges with a 'get it done' attitude.

There are numerous jobs required to produce a television show, most of which require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Knowing the specific role you would like to play on a production crew is a good first step in determining if a career in the industry is the right choice for you.


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