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Become A Signal Technician

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Working As A Signal Technician

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Getting Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • $64,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Signal 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.

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How To Become A Signal 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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Signal Technician Typical Career Paths

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Signal Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

81.8%

Female

13.1%

Unknown

5.1%
Ethnicity

White

62.2%

Hispanic or Latino

16.0%

Black or African American

12.6%

Asian

5.6%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.5%

Chinese

12.5%

German

12.5%

Japanese

12.5%

French

12.5%

Mandarin

12.5%
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Signal Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.0%

University of Texas at Arlington

8.0%

University of North Texas

8.0%

Strayer University

8.0%

Mercer County Vocational/Technical Schools

4.0%

Victoria College

4.0%

Amarillo College

4.0%

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology - Okmulgee

4.0%

University of Phoenix-Indiana

4.0%

New River Community and Technical College

4.0%

Brick Computer Science Institute

4.0%

University of West Florida

4.0%

Germanna Community College

4.0%

State Technical College of Missouri

4.0%

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

4.0%

Advanced Technology Institute

4.0%

Delgado Community College

4.0%

San Jose City College

4.0%

Ashford University

4.0%

Boise State University

4.0%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

20.3%

Electrical Engineering Technology

17.6%

Computer Networking

6.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

5.4%

Project Management

5.4%

Management

4.1%

Computer Information Systems

4.1%

Business

4.1%

Aviation

4.1%

Computer Engineering Technology

4.1%

Accounting

2.7%

Computer Science

2.7%

Automotive Technology

2.7%

Information Systems

2.7%

Communication

2.7%

Criminal Justice

2.7%

Civil Engineering

2.7%

Engineering

2.7%

Computer Programming

1.4%

Drafting And Design

1.4%
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Degrees

Other

36.9%

Associate

25.2%

Bachelors

21.4%

Certificate

9.7%

Masters

4.9%

License

1.0%

Doctorate

1.0%
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Top Skills for A Signal Technician

  1. Traffic Control Devices
  2. Ensure Safety
  3. Trouble Calls
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Maintain electronic components of Traffic Control Devices.
  • Go out on trouble calls; download VHLC equipment to find the problem.
  • Perform upgrades to traffic signal equipment in the field and in the signal shop.
  • Worked on and troubleshooted coded track circuits, Tru II track Circuits, and Overlay Track Circuits.
  • Perform annual preventative maintenance as well as electrical/mechanical troubleshooting and testing of components for repairs of malfunctioning or failed equipment.

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Top Signal Technician Employers

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