AM Broadcast Engineer: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an amplitude modulation (AM) broadcast engineer. Find out about the technical work you'd do in this career, and learn about education requirements, potential job growth, employment outlook, and salary info to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Electronics & Communications Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an AM Broadcast Engineer?

AM broadcast engineers handle the technical side of radio broadcasting. While the name mentions AM radio specifically, you may also work with FM, or 'frequency modulation', radio, as well. Regardless of which you work with, your job duties will be largely the same. Broadcast engineers are responsible for setting up, adjusting, and repairing equipment. During a broadcast, you may be responsible for monitoring the frequency and making any corrections or modifications to adjust for problems that may arise. To be effective with your job, you must have a high degree of technical knowledge concerning radio frequencies and the equipment used.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree, bachelor's degree provides an advantage
Key Responsibilities Set up broadcasting equipment, perform sound checks and adjust and repair equipment
Certification Not required, but certification from the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) may be helpful
Job Growth (2014-2024) -6% (all broadcast technicians)*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $44,050 (all broadcast technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of an AM Broadcast Engineer?

If you're working as a broadcast engineer, you may work with both AM and FM radio broadcasting. The difference between the technical aspects of AM and frequency modulation (FM) radio broadcasting technology is how the radio wave of information is carried. In AM radio, the strength of the signal changes as the incoming audio information does, sometimes resulting in static. On the other hand, FM's amplitude remains constant and can carry audio information despite noise interference.

As an AM broadcast engineer, you handle the technical aspects of broadcasting programs over the radio. You may set up equipment, troubleshoot problems, perform sound checks, and adjust equipment. If equipment breaks down, you repair it and ensure it's working correctly. During a broadcast, you may monitor the transmissions and make minor changes or adjustments to fix the quality of the sound and transmission signals.

What Education Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), broadcast technicians, including AM broadcast engineers, need an associate degree in broadcast technology or a related technical field (www.bls.gov). The BLS notes that a bachelor's degree may increase your competitiveness within the field and allow you more opportunity for advancement.

Certification from the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) may help to make you more competitive in the job market, allowing you to prove your knowledge and abilities in the field. The SBE offers the Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer and Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist designations, which provide proof of your technical skills and competence in the field (www.sbe.org).

What Is the Outlook for Employment and Salary?

According to the BLS, broadcast technicians held 28,270 jobs in 2015. Job growth for the field was expected to be -6% from 2014-2024. The advances in technology are expected to slow growth because better technology increases the abilities of a single technician to handle more job duties. In addition, 'central broadcasting' is becoming more common as many stations combine their broadcasts in just one location instead of multiple areas. Competition may increase because there will be fewer positions available.

Earning a bachelor's degree or gaining certification may be ways to make you stand out. The BLS reported that broadcast technicians earned a mean annual salary of $44,050, as of May 2015. The mean hourly wage was $21.18 in the same year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians design and build different kinds of technology under the supervision of engineers, acting in a supporting role or as testers on finished products using sophisticated tools and diagnostic criteria. They must have at least an associate's degree.

Sound engineering technicians operate equipment used for recording sound in different venues, such as live performances, broadcasting it across radio and television. An associate's degree is the minimum education required for this work.

Computer support specialists assist computer users with their IT issues, using their vast knowledge of technology to diagnose and fix many common problems. An associate's degree is the most common criteria for employment, though many employers prefer a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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