What They Do: Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for media programs.
Work Environment: Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, and recording studios. They may also work in hotels, arenas, offices, or schools.
How to Become One: Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, they may need either a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.
Salary: The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians is $45,510.
Job Outlook: Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 9 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to stem from businesses, schools, and entertainment industries seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities. They will need technicians to set up, operate, and maintain equipment.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of broadcast and sound engineering technicians with similar occupations.
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Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically do the following:
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. The following are examples of types of broadcast and sound engineering technicians:
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 also may 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, also known as broadcast engineers, 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, either in studios or on location in the field, to broadcast radio or television programs. Broadcast technicians also use computer programs to edit audio and video recordings.
Sound engineering technicians, also known as audio engineers or sound mixers, 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 audio tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product.
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians hold about 140,300 jobs. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up broadcast and sound engineering technicians is distributed as follows:
|Audio and video equipment technicians||91,800|
|Sound engineering technicians||15,800|
The largest employers of broadcast and sound engineering technicians are as follows:
|Radio and television broadcasting||17%|
|Motion picture and sound recording industries||13%|
|Real estate and rental and leasing||11%|
|Educational services; state, local, and private||8%|
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, or recording studios. However, some work outdoors in all types of conditions in order to broadcast news and other programming on location. Audio and video technicians also set up systems in offices, arenas, hotels, schools, hospitals, and homes.
Technicians doing maintenance may climb poles or antenna towers; those setting up equipment may do heavy lifting.
Technicians typically work full time. Some may occasionally work overtime to meet broadcast deadlines or set up for live events. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common because most radio and television stations are on the air 24 hours a day.
Technicians who work on motion pictures may be on a tight schedule and may work additional hours to meet contract deadlines with the movie studio.
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Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, they may need either a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate's degree.
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.
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 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. In addition, the level of education a new hire has achieved can also dictate how much training is required. Those entering the occupation with only a high school diploma or equivalent would likely need a longer period of on-the-job training, compared with those who have postsecondary education.
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.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight broadcast engineering certifications, two operator certifications, and one broadcast networking certification. All of them require passing an exam.
InfoComm International offers the general Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credential as well as the design CTS and installation CTS. All three credentials require passing an exam and are valid for 3 years.
Practical experience working in a high school or college audiovisual department also can help prepare someone to be an audio and video equipment technician.
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 broadcast technicians or chief broadcast engineers. To become chief broadcast engineer at large television stations, technicians typically need a bachelor's degree in engineering or computer science.
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.
The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians is $45,510. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,930, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,890.
Median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians are as follows:
|Sound engineering technicians||$54,740|
|Audio and video equipment technicians||$45,910|
The median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Motion picture and sound recording industries||$55,220|
|Educational services; state, local, and private||$45,980|
|Real estate and rental and leasing||$42,510|
|Radio and television broadcasting||$38,720|
Technicians working in major cities typically earn more than those working in smaller markets.
Technicians usually work full time. Some may occasionally work overtime to meet broadcast deadlines or set up for live events. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common because most radio and television stations are on the air 24 hours a day.
Technicians who work on motion pictures may be on a tight schedule and may work additional hours to meet contract deadlines with the movie studio.
Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 9 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Employment of audio and visual equipment technicians is projected to grow 12 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. More audio and video technicians should be needed to set up new equipment or upgrade and maintain old, complex systems for a variety of organizations.
More companies are increasing their audio and video budgets so they can use video conferencing to reduce travel costs and communicate worldwide with other offices and clients. In addition, an increase in the use of digital signs across a wide variety of industries, such as schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores should lead to higher demand for audio and video equipment technicians.
Schools and universities are also seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities in order to attract and keep the best students. More audio and visual technicians may be needed to install and maintain interactive whiteboards and wireless projectors so teachers can give multimedia presentations and record lectures.
Employment of broadcast technicians is projected to grow 3 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupation. More consumers may choose free over-the-air television programming instead of cable or satellite services, in a practice commonly referred to as "cord-cutting." This may contribute to stronger demand for broadcast television. However, most major networks use a single facility to broadcast to multiple stations, which limits the growth potential for broadcast technicians.
Employment of sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. The television and motion picture industry will continue to need technicians to improve the sound quality of shows and movies.
Competition for jobs will be strong. This occupation attracts many applicants who are interested in working with the latest technology and electronic equipment. Many applicants also are attracted to working in the radio and television industry.
Those looking for work in this industry will have the most job opportunities in smaller markets or stations. Those with hands-on experience with complex electronics and software or with work experience at a radio or television station will have the best job prospects. In addition, technicians should be versatile, because they set up, operate, and maintain equipment.
An associate's or bachelor's degree in broadcast technology, broadcast production, computer networking, or a related field also will improve job prospects for applicants.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2019||Projected Employment, 2029||Change, 2019-29|
|Broadcast and sound engineering technicians||140,300||153,600||9||13,200|
|Audio and video equipment technicians||91,800||103,100||12||11,300|
|Sound engineering technicians||15,800||16,700||6||1,000|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.