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Broadcast Technician Careers

What Does a Broadcast Technician Do

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

Duties

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate, monitor, and adjust audio, video, lighting, and broadcast equipment to ensure consistent quality
  • Set up and take down equipment for events and live performances
  • Record speech, music, and other sounds on recording equipment or computers, sometimes using complex software
  • Synchronize sounds and dialogue with action taking place on television or in movie productions
  • Convert video and audio records to digital formats for editing on computers
  • Install audio, video, and lighting equipment in hotels, offices, and schools
  • Report any problems that arise with complex equipment and make routine repairs
  • Keep records of recordings and equipment used

These workers may be called broadcast or sound engineering technicians, operators, or engineers. At smaller radio and television stations, broadcast and sound technicians may do many jobs. At larger stations, they are likely to do more specialized work, although their job assignments may vary from day to day. They set up and operate audio and video equipment, and the kind of equipment they use may depend on the particular type of technician or industry.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians share many of the same responsibilities, but their duties may vary with their specific area of focus.

Audio and video equipment technicians set up and operate audio and video equipment. They also connect wires and cables and set up and operate sound and mixing boards and related electronic equipment.

Audio and video equipment technicians work with microphones, speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, and recording equipment. The equipment they operate is used for meetings, concerts, sports events, conventions, and news conferences. In addition, they may operate equipment at conferences and at presentations for businesses and universities.

Audio and video equipment technicians may also set up and operate custom lighting systems. They frequently work directly with clients and must provide solutions to problems in a simple, clear manner.

Broadcast technicians set up, operate, and maintain equipment that regulates the signal strength, clarity, and ranges of sounds and colors for radio or television broadcasts. They operate transmitters to broadcast radio or television programs and use computer programs to edit audio and video recordings.

Sound engineering technicians operate computers and equipment that record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions. They record audio performances or events and may combine tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product. Sound engineering technicians operate transmitters to broadcast radio or television programs and use computers to program the equipment and edit audio recordings.

The following are examples of types of broadcast and sound engineering technicians:

Recording engineers operate and maintain video- and sound-recording equipment. These engineers work with computers, computer networks, and software to produce special effects for radio, television, or movies.

Sound mixers, or rerecording mixers, produce soundtracks for movies or television programs. They rerecord songs or compositions that already have been commercially released. After filming or recording is complete, these workers often dub the final product by adding or removing sounds.

Field technicians set up and operate portable equipment outside the studio—for example, for television news coverage. Because this coverage requires so much electronic equipment and the technology is changing so rapidly, many technicians are assigned exclusively to news coverage teams.

Chief engineers, transmission engineers, and broadcast field supervisors oversee other technicians and maintain broadcasting equipment.

How To Become a Broadcast Technician

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, it could either be a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.  

Education

Audio and video equipment technicians, as well as sound engineering technicians, typically need a postsecondary nondegree award or certificate, whereas broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. However, in some cases workers in any of these occupations may need only a high school diploma to be eligible for entry-level positions.

Postsecondary nondegree programs for audio and video equipment technicians and sound engineering technicians may take several months to a year to complete. The programs include hands-on experience with the equipment used in many entry-level positions.

Broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. In addition to courses in math and science, coursework for prospective broadcast technicians should emphasize practical skills such as video editing and production management.

Prospective broadcast and sound engineering technicians should complete high school courses in math, physics, and electronics. They must have excellent computer skills to be successful.

Training

Because technology is constantly improving, technicians often enroll in continuing education courses and they receive on-the-job training to become skilled in new equipment and hardware. On-the-job training includes topics such as setting up cables or automation systems, testing electrical equipment, learning the codes and standards of the industry, and following safety procedures.

Training for new hires can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on the types of products and services the employer provides. Although some apprenticeship programs do exist, more frequently a new technician will accompany a more experienced technician to get the training and skills necessary for advancement.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required by most employers, earning voluntary certification will offer advantages in getting a job as a broadcast or sound engineering technician. Certification tells employers that the technician meets certain industry standards and has kept up to date with new technologies.

For example, the Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight broadcast engineering certifications, two operator certifications, and two broadcast networking certifications. All of them require passing an exam. Similarly, InfoComm International offers an audiovisual Certified Technology Specialist credential.

Other Experience

Practical experience working in a high school or college audiovisual department also can help prepare someone to be an audio and video equipment technician.

Advancement

Although many broadcast and sound engineering technicians work first in small markets or at small stations in big markets, after they gain the necessary experience and skills they often transfer to larger, better paying radio or television stations. Few large stations hire someone without previous experience, and they value more specialized skills.

Experienced workers with strong technical skills can become supervisory technicians or chief engineers. To become chief engineer at large television stations, technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technicians need to communicate with supervisors and coworkers to ensure that clients’ needs are met and that equipment is set up properly before broadcasts, live performances, and presentations.

Computer skills. Technicians use computer systems to program equipment and edit audio and video recordings.

Manual dexterity. Some technicians set up audio and visual equipment and cables, a job that requires a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination. Others adjust small knobs, dials, and sliders during radio and television broadcasts and live performances.

Problem-solving skills. Technicians need to recognize equipment problems and propose possible solutions to them. Employers typically desire applicants with a variety of skills, such as setting up equipment, maintaining the equipment, and troubleshooting and solving any problems that arise.

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Average Salary
$52,974
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
8%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
5,447
Job Openings

Broadcast Technician Career Paths

Top Careers Before Broadcast Technician

Editor
8.2 %

Top Careers After Broadcast Technician

Broadcast Technician Jobs You Might Like

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Average Salary for a Broadcast Technician

Broadcast Technicians in America make an average salary of $52,974 per year or $25 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $74,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $37,000 per year.
Average Salary
$52,974
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
New York, NY
Salary Range50k - 92k$69k$68,589
Arlington Heights, IL
Salary Range42k - 75k$56k$56,420
Washington, DC
Salary Range36k - 66k$49k$49,191
Kent, OH
Salary Range35k - 65k$49k$48,632
North Miami, FL
Salary Range35k - 63k$48k$47,853
Houston, TX
Salary Range36k - 62k$48k$47,657
$30k
$92k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Broadcast Technician
Broadcast Technician
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University
01/05/2020
01/05/2020
$50,00001/05/2020
$50,000
Broadcast Technician
Broadcast Technician
RUSA Radio Inc.
RUSA Radio Inc.
12/16/2019
12/16/2019
$59,98712/16/2019
$59,987
Broadcast Technician
Broadcast Technician
University of New Mexico
University of New Mexico
08/22/2019
08/22/2019
$31,30508/22/2019
$31,305
Broadcast Technician
Broadcast Technician
University of New Mexico
University of New Mexico
07/31/2019
07/31/2019
$31,30507/31/2019
$31,305
Broadcast Technician
Broadcast Technician
University of New Mexico
University of New Mexico
06/12/2019
06/12/2019
$37,56606/12/2019
$37,566
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Broadcast Technician Demographics

Gender

male

78.0 %

female

17.5 %

unknown

4.5 %

Ethnicity

White

66.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

15.7 %

Black or African American

10.8 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.8 %

Arabic

11.8 %

Portuguese

5.9 %
See More Demographics

Broadcast Technician Education

Majors

Degrees

Bachelors

55.9 %

Associate

16.7 %

Certificate

14.0 %

Top Colleges for Broadcast Technicians

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

3. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

4. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550

7. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

8. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

9. Minnesota State University - Mankato

Mankato, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,184
Enrollment
11,675

10. Lawrence Technological University

Southfield, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$33,570
Enrollment
1,991
See More Education Info

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Top Skills For a Broadcast Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 12.8% of broadcast technicians listed live broadcasts on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and computer skills are important as well.

Best States For a Broadcast Technician

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a broadcast technician. The best states for people in this position are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Broadcast technicians make the most in New York with an average salary of $68,217. Whereas in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they would average $67,702 and $58,911, respectively. While broadcast technicians would only make an average of $55,999 in Illinois, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New York

Total Broadcast Technician Jobs:
859
Highest 10% Earn:
$119,000
Location Quotient:
1.28
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Broadcast Technician Jobs:
489
Highest 10% Earn:
$118,000
Location Quotient:
1.18
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Illinois

Total Broadcast Technician Jobs:
718
Highest 10% Earn:
$96,000
Location Quotient:
1.15
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Broadcast Technician Employers

1. Royal Caribbean Cruises
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$42,015
Broadcast Technicians Hired: 
32+
2. Norwegian Cruise Line
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$40,624
Broadcast Technicians Hired: 
15+
3. United States Army
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$53,416
Broadcast Technicians Hired: 
12+
4. CBS
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$56,502
Broadcast Technicians Hired: 
10+
5. EchoStar
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$60,825
Broadcast Technicians Hired: 
7+
6. ESPN
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$61,658
Broadcast Technicians Hired: 
7+
Updated October 2, 2020