How Do I Become a Broadcast Engineer?
A broadcast engineer operates and maintains the electronics equipment used in television and radio broadcasts. Find out the typical duties, average salary and education requirements for a broadcast engineering career.
What Is a Broadcast Engineer?
Broadcast engineers are responsible for preparing, operating, and maintaining the equipment for the purpose of recording or transmitting an audio or audio/visual broadcast. Broadcast engineers should be well-versed in both live broadcasts and pre-recordings, as well as comfortable with the operation of various types of equipment, such as lighting and soundboards. In some cases, they are responsible for converting the recordings to digital formats as well as editing, depending on the scope of their position. Below, the table provides some key details about this career:
|Degree Required||Associate's degree or certificate|
|Education Field of Study||Broadcast engineering|
|Key Responsibilities||Install, maintain and repair equipment; monitor and adjust signals|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||1%*|
|Mean Salary (2018)||$46,770*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Types of Training Programs in Broadcast Engineering are Available?
Many schools offer associate's degree programs in broadcast engineering, though some also provide training in a professional certificate program. Courses cover fundamentals of electronics, AM and FM transmission systems, analog and digital signals and elements of computer networking. Many programs introduce you to both radio and television production techniques.
Alternately, you could earn a degree in the related discipline of electrical engineering. Certificate programs, as well as associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs qualify you for varying levels of employment in the field of engineering. While graduate studies may offer career advancement opportunities, you'll usually meet educational requirements with an undergraduate degree or certificate.
What Certifications Are Available?
The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBT) offers eight certifications for broadcast engineers. The Certified Broadcast Technologist credential requires only a passing score on the certification test, though the specialized engineering credentials generally require that you have a sufficient combination of education and experience. SBT engineering certifications include specializations in audio or video engineering, as well as varying levels of radio and television engineering based on experience.
What Will My Job Duties Be?
As a broadcast engineer, you'll install, maintain, repair and operate audio and video broadcasting equipment for radio and television stations or cable service providers. Handling equipment entails monitoring and logging signals, adjusting a signal's frequency or strength and regulating image or sound quality. In some instances, you might also assist with the planning and design of broadcast and non-broadcast support systems.
What Could I Earn?
In 2018, broadcast technicians were reported to make an average salary of $46,770, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that the highest paid professionals worked for the federal and executive branch of the government, though there were very few jobs in that industry. Large cities provide you with the most opportunities and the highest paying jobs in both radio and television, though competition might be higher.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers are responsible for fixing various electrical equipment, including telecommunications or broadcasting technology, though it's not their only focus; they may work with utility or transportation technology as well. These workers typically need to complete some postsecondary coursework. At the associate's degree level, becoming an electronics engineering technician could be a possibility. These technicians assist in developing and designing new technology in a variety of fields, from healthcare to communications. If you're open to pursuing a bachelor's degree, you can find other jobs in the film and television industry, such as film and video editing and camera operation.