How to Become a TV Producer in 5 Steps
Explore the career requirements for tv producers. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, job outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Does a TV Producer Do?
TV producers create and oversee the production of television shows. They are in charge of many of the major business, financial and planning decisions regarding a production and are generally responsible for the overall concept. Producers may hire other workers, such as actors, camera crew, directors or scriptwriters. They must have extremely strong organizational and creative skills and be able to function well under pressure. Producers generally have the final call on any decisions and are ultimately responsible for most aspects of a production.
To learn more about this profession, read the chart below for an overview.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Nonprofit management, arts management, business|
|Key Responsibilities||Supervise production, create bids for projects, audition and hire crew and cast members|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||5% growth (for producers and directors)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$71,680 (for producers and directors)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Is a TV Producer?
A TV producer is partly the creator of taped and live TV shows and partly the top executive who performs, delegates or supervises all off-camera administrative and organizational functions. Your duties as a producer include writing and submitting bids for TV projects; devising budgets and schedules; hiring writers; providing input on casting decisions; leading production meetings and script conferences; coordinating the work of writers, directors and subordinates; and supervising editing and other post production activities. In a news broadcast operation you might contribute to the writing and editing of news stories.
Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma
Many high schools offer media classes in which you can gain familiarity with the process of shooting and editing video footage. If your school also supports a TV station you can fill an assortment of production support roles as a volunteer. You need a diploma or GED for admission to postsecondary programs related to TV production.
Step 2: Earn a Degree
Although TV producers have no set educational path, according to O*Net OnLine, about 53% of producers have a bachelor's degree and about 15% have a master's degree (www.onetonline.org). You might enroll in a bachelor's degree program in media production, film production, filmmaking, broadcast journalism or a similar field. You should seek out a program that will help you develop your TV production knowledge and skills by providing you with the opportunity to participate in most or all phases of physical production. In a program with a particular emphasis in TV production, technical courses might cover such subjects as screenwriting, storyboarding, cinematography, editing and motion graphics. Administrative courses cover budgeting, fundraising and marketing.
Master's programs also engage multiple aspects of production but allow you to specialize in technical areas or administrative areas. Courses that focus on the business and economics of television, decision-making, effective pitching and project development are relevant options if you intend to become a producer.
Step 3: Complete an Internship
Working as an intern provides you with initial experience, an opportunity to begin forming relationships with industry professionals and possibly a job straight out of college. With so many applicants to choose from, many broadcasters prefer candidates who are ready to work and don't need on-the-job training. You might find a position interning with a television studio or network, a production company or a television show currently in production. If you are interested in fulfilling an internship while still in college, you might want to consider interning at a local television station.
Step 4: Obtain Employment at a TV Station or Film Studio
The major TV and film production centers are located in New York and Los Angeles. However, you're likely to encounter the keenest competition for jobs in either locale. Entry-level production assistant positions in the cable access and local TV stations in smaller cities around the U.S. may be easier to secure. The broader your technical knowledge and the more tasks you can perform competently, the better your employment prospects will be.
Step 5: Produce Your First TV Show or TV Movie
The first show or movie you successfully guide from inception to air improves your chances of winning approval for the next project and the one after that. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that growth in demand for programming content will be strongest for subscription and cable TV broadcasting and in online, mobile and interactive media (www.bls.gov).
According to the BLS, there were about 152,400 producers and directors employed in 2018 (www.bls.gov). From 2018-2028, employment was expected to increase 5%. Industry consolidation will be an inhibiting factor to growth. The BLS reports that as of May 2018, you could have potentially earned a median annual salary of $71,680 as a producer or director.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Directors perform a similar function to producers in that they normally have a managerial role within a production, but generally have less involvement with the business side of things. Their role within a film or television show is to direct and work with crew members in order to carry out a creative vision. Likewise, art directors, who are primarily concerned with the visual aspect of a magazine spread, television show, film or other piece of media, also share a lot of skills with producers. Both of these professions are open to students with a bachelor's degree in a media or arts related field. Students who are most interested in the project management side of a producer's career and want to pursue a degree in arts or nonprofit management may want to look into becoming executives for socially conscious companies or nonprofit organizations. These professionals are in charge of an organization's strategies and policies and generally occupy significant roles in the company.