How to Become a Broadcaster in 5 Steps
Learn about the education requirements for a radio or television broadcaster, and see what positions you could pursue in this field. Find out what you can do to prepare while you're still in school, and get information on job growth predictions and salary expectations. Schools offering Journalism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Broadcaster?
A broadcaster is a communications professional who works in the radio and television industry as a journalist or an announcer. The title of 'journalist' may further be divided into reporters, correspondents or analysts. Your duties as a reporter or correspondent include investigating crimes, human interest stories or disasters; arranging interviews with witnesses or experts; determining the focus, structure and length of stories; researching, writing and reviewing story copy; and delivering stories on location and in the studio.
As an analyst you might select stories and events for deeper analysis and interpretation, develop and organize your perspective on those stories and present your observations on air. As an announcer you read news stories and program schedules, interview guests, lead panel discussions or provide commentary at live events.
Step 1: Prepare in High School
High school media classes can help you gain familiarity with the process of researching, editing and presenting a story aurally or visually, especially if your school supports a radio or TV station. Volunteering at a school radio or TV station can also enable you to begin assembling a demo reel, which you can use when applying for jobs or to college. If you apply to college, a diploma or GED is typically an admission requirement.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor's degree is helpful when seeking work in the highly competitive broadcast industry. Data for 2008 from O*Net OnLine show that around 64% of reporters, 75% of analysts and 36% of announcers had a bachelor's degree (www.onetonline.org). Relevant degree programs are available in broadcast journalism and communications with a broadcasting or radio and television emphasis. Broadcasting programs explore the technical aspects of production and examine the various formats of radio and TV shows, including how they've evolved over time and how the medium influences and is influenced by culture.
Step 3: Gain Experience
Volunteering and participating in an internship are two possible methods of gaining experience. In either instance you're likely to be assigned production assistant duties, which range from helping set up or take down equipment to clerical support. You gain the opportunity to observe station operations day-to-day and build a network of contacts. Internships may be part of the curriculum in some bachelor's degree programs, or you could arrange one through your school.
Step 4: Pursue a Job
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010 an estimated 45,130 people worked as reporters and correspondents, 5,670 worked as analysts and 32,520 worked as radio and TV announcers (www.bls.gov). Figures don't include self-employed freelancers. From 2008-2018 the BLS projects 56,900 people will hold jobs as reporters and correspondents, both employed and self-employed, 8,000 will be working as analysts and 51,700 as announcers. Competition is most intense in large markets. You're likely to have an easier time finding a position at radio or TV stations in a smaller market. As of May 2010 you could have earned a median annual salary of $34,530 as a reporter, $54,140 as an analyst and $26,850 as an announcer.
Step 5: Advance Your Career
Your advancement is a matter of accumulating experience and demonstrating talent. If you're starting as a reporter at a small radio or TV station you can try to move horizontally into a similar position in a larger market or vertically into a position as an announcer, DJ or analyst. Specializing as a sportscaster or in particular beats such as science, medicine or business are also possibilities. As an announcer or analyst you may also try to move from a smaller to a larger market, or become a station manager or program manager if administration interests you.
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