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Broadcast Technician Career

Career Description

A Broadcast Technician sets up, operates, and maintains equipment that regulates the signal strength, clarity, and the range of sounds and colors of radio or television broadcasts. These technicians also operate control panels to select the source of the material. Technicians may switch from one camera or studio to another, from film to live programming, or from network to local programming.

Common Work Tasks

  • Maintain programming logs, as required by station management and the Federal Communications Commission
  • Control audio equipment to regulate the volume and sound quality during radio and television broadcasts
  • Monitor strength, clarity, and reliability of incoming and outgoing signals, and adjust equipment as necessary to maintain quality broadcasts
  • Regulate the fidelity, brightness, and contrast of video transmissions, using video console control panels
  • Observe monitors and converse with station personnel to determine audio and video levels and to ascertain that programs are airing
  • Preview scheduled programs to ensure that signals are functioning and programs are ready for transmissions
  • Report equipment problems, ensure that repairs are made, and make emergency repairs to equipment when necessary and possible
  • Organize recording sessions, and prepare areas such as radio booths and television stations for recording
  • Instruct trainees in how to use television production equipment, how to film events, and how to copy and edit graphics or sound onto videotape
  • Determine the number, type, and approximate location of microphones needed for best sound recording or transmission quality, and position them appropriately

Other Job Titles

Broadcast Technicians are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Audio and Video Equipment Technicians
  • Sound Engineering Technicians
  • Recording Engineers
  • Sound Mixers

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
  The best way to prepare for a broadcast technician job is to obtain technical school,  community college, or college training in broadcast technology, electronics, or computer networking. For broadcast technicians, an associate degree is recommended. When starting out, broadcast technicians learn skills on the job from experienced technicians and supervisors. These beginners often start their careers in small stations and, once experienced, transfer to larger ones. Large stations usually hire only technicians with experience. Many employers pay tuition and expenses for courses or seminars to help technicians keep abreast of developments in the field.

Experience
  Building electronic equipment from hobby kits and operating a “ham,” or amateur, radio are good ways to prepare for these careers, as is working in college radio and television stations. Information technology skills also are valuable because digital recording, editing, and broadcasting are now the norm. Broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators must have manual dexterity and an aptitude for working with electrical, electronic, and mechanical systems and equipment.

Salary

The median annual salary for a Broadcast Technician is $32,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $66,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $17,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of broadcast technicians are:

  • Radio and Television Broadcasting - $34,380
  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming - $46,570
  • Cable and Other Program Distribution - $38,490
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries - $47,440
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $40,850

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  12%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 4,600
  • Employment 2006 : 38,000
  • Employment 2016:   42,000
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