Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Summary

broadcast and sound engineering technicians image
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians operate controls to ensure quality audio and video recordings for radio and television broadcasts.
Quick Facts: Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians
2015 Median Pay $41,780 per year
$20.09 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 117,200
Job Outlook, 2014-24 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 7,700

What Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians Do

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

Work Environment

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, and recording studios. They can also work in hotels, arenas, or in offices and school buildings.

How to Become a Broadcast or Sound Engineering Technician

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, it could be either a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $41,780 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to stem from businesses, schools, and radio and television stations seeking new equipment to improve their audio and video capabilities.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for broadcast and sound engineering technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of broadcast and sound engineering technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about broadcast and sound engineering technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians Do About this section

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians operate equipment in schools and office buildings.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

Duties

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate, monitor, and adjust audio, video, lighting, and broadcast equipment to ensure consistent quality
  • Set up and take down equipment for events and live performances
  • Record speech, music, and other sounds on recording equipment or computers, sometimes using complex software
  • Synchronize sounds and dialogue with action taking place on television or in movie productions
  • Convert video and audio records to digital formats for editing on computers
  • Install audio, video, and lighting equipment in hotels, offices, and schools
  • Report any problems that arise with complex equipment and make routine repairs
  • Keep records of recordings and equipment used

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.

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 may also 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 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 to broadcast radio or television programs and use computer programs to edit audio and video recordings.

Sound engineering technicians 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 tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product. Sound engineering technicians operate transmitters to broadcast radio or television programs and use computers to program the equipment and edit audio recordings.

The following are examples of types of broadcast and sound engineering technicians:

Recording engineers operate and maintain video- and sound-recording equipment. These engineers work with computers, computer networks, and software to produce special effects for radio, television, or movies.

Sound mixers, or rerecording mixers, produce soundtracks for movies or television programs. They rerecord songs or compositions that already have been commercially released. After filming or recording is complete, these workers often dub the final product by adding or removing sounds.

Field technicians set up and operate portable equipment outside the studio—for example, for television news coverage. Because this coverage requires so much electronic equipment and the technology is changing so rapidly, many technicians are assigned exclusively to news coverage teams.

Chief engineers, transmission engineers, and broadcast field supervisors oversee other technicians and maintain broadcasting equipment.

Work Environment About this section

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians work with a variety of electronic and recording equipment.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians held about 117,200 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most broadcast and sound engineering technicians were as follows:

Radio and television broadcasting 22%
Motion picture, video, and sound recording industries 15
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 11

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, government agencies, hospitals, and homes.

Technicians doing maintenance may climb poles or antenna towers; those setting up equipment may do heavy lifting.

About 1 in 10 broadcast and sound engineering technicians were self-employed in 2014.

Work Schedules

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 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 movie studios.

How to Become a Broadcast or Sound Engineering Technician About this section

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians
Most broadcast and sound engineering technicians have an associate’s degree or vocational certification, although some are hired with a high school diploma.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, it could either be a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.  

Education

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.

Training

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 topics such as 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. Although some apprenticeship programs do exist, more frequently a new technician will accompany a more experienced technician to get the training and skills necessary for advancement.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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.

For example, the Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight broadcast engineering certifications, two operator certifications, and two broadcast networking certifications. All of them require passing an exam. Similarly, InfoComm International offers an audiovisual Certified Technology Specialist credential.

Other Experience

Practical experience working in a high school or college audiovisual department also can help prepare someone to be an audio and video equipment technician.

Advancement

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 technicians or chief engineers. To become chief engineer at large television stations, technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science.

Important Qualities

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.

Pay About this section

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2015

Media and communication equipment workers

$43,480

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

$41,780

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $41,780 in May 2015. 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 $20,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83,120.

Median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in May 2015 were as follows:

Sound engineering technicians $53,330
Audio and video equipment technicians 41,440
Broadcast technicians 37,490

In May 2015, the median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture, video, and sound recording industries $50,400
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 42,300
Radio and television broadcasting 35,370

Technicians working in major cities typically earn more than those working in smaller locations.

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.

Job Outlook About this section

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication equipment workers

5%

 

Employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to stem from businesses, schools, and radio and television stations seeking new equipment to improve their audio and video capabilities.

Employment of audio and visual equipment technicians is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, 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 video budgets so they can use video conferencing to reduce travel costs and communicate worldwide with other offices and clients. An increase in the use of digital signs for schools, hospitals, and hotels also will lead to higher demand for audio and video equipment technicians.

In addition, schools and universities are seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities to attract and keep the best students. They are building classrooms with interactive whiteboards and video equipment so teachers can give more interactive multimedia presentations and record their lectures.

Employment of broadcast technicians is projected to decline 6 percent from 2014 to 2024. More television stations are consolidating the broadcasting duties of multiple local stations into one single site in a term referred to in the industry as “central casting.” This trend may continue to reduce the overall number of broadcast technicians.

Employment of sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as 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. Television and motion picture companies are installing the latest technologies, such as digital or three-dimensional screens, in movie and home theaters and are converting existing theaters to new formats.

Job Prospects

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.

Employment projections data for broadcast and sound engineering technicians, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

117,200 124,900 7 7,700

Audio and video equipment technicians

27-4011 70,900 79,400 12 8,400 [XLSX]

Broadcast technicians

27-4012 30,100 28,200 -6 -2,000 [XLSX]

Sound engineering technicians

27-4014 16,100 17,400 8 1,200 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of broadcast and sound engineering technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Computer support specialists

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. Some, called computer network support specialists, support information technology (IT) employees within their organization. Others, called computer user support specialists, assist non-IT users who are having computer problems.

See How to Become One $51,470
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation.

Associate's degree $61,130
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Postsecondary nondegree award $55,160
Film and video editors and camera operators

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.

Bachelor's degree $55,740

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more career information and links to employment resources, visit

National Association of Broadcasters

For more information about certification and links to employment information, visit

Society of Broadcast Engineers

For more information on certification and career information for audio and video equipment technicians, visit

InfoComm International

National Systems Contractors Association

O*NET

Audio and Video Equipment Technicians

Broadcast Technicians

Sound Engineering Technicians

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/broadcast-and-sound-engineering-technicians.htm (visited December 02, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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How to Become One

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Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.