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
2016 Median Pay $42,550 per year
$20.46 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, 2016 134,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 10,700

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, they may need either a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $42,550 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to stem from businesses, schools, and entertainment industries seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities. They will need technicians to set up, operate, and maintain new technologically advanced equipment.

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

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 also may 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, also known as broadcast engineers, 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, either in studios or on location in the field, to broadcast radio or television programs. Broadcast technicians also use computer programs to edit audio and video recordings.

Sound engineering technicians, also known as audio engineers or sound mixers, 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 audio tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product.

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 134,300 jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up broadcast and sound engineering technicians was distributed as follows:

Audio and video equipment technicians 83,300
Broadcast technicians 34,000
Sound engineering technicians 17,000

The largest employers of broadcast and sound engineering technicians were as follows:

Radio and television broadcasting 20%
Motion picture and sound recording industries 16
Self-employed workers 10
Real estate and rental and leasing 10
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 10

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, hospitals, and homes.

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

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 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.

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, they may need either 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 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. In addition, the level of education a new hire has achieved can also dictate how much training is required. Those entering the occupation with only a high school diploma or equivalent would likely need a longer period of on-the-job training, compared with those who have postsecondary education.

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.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight broadcast engineering certifications, two operator certifications, and one broadcast networking certification. All of them require passing an exam.

InfoComm International offers the general Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credential as well as the design CTS and installation CTS. All three credentials require passing an exam and are valid for 3 years.

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 broadcast technicians or chief broadcast engineers. To become chief broadcast 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 2016

Media and communication equipment workers

$45,680

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

$42,550

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $42,550 in May 2016. 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 $22,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $84,520.

Median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in May 2016 were as follows:

Sound engineering technicians $53,680
Audio and video equipment technicians 42,230
Broadcast technicians 38,550

In May 2016, the median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and sound recording industries $50,230
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 42,820
Real estate and rental and leasing 39,400
Radio and television broadcasting 36,380

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

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 2016-26

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication equipment workers

2%

 

Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment of audio and visual equipment technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, 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 audio and video budgets so they can use video conferencing to reduce travel costs and communicate worldwide with other offices and clients. In addition, an increase in the use of digital signs across a wide variety of industries, such as schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores should lead to higher demand for audio and video equipment technicians.

Schools and universities are also seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities in order to attract and keep the best students. More audio and visual technicians may be needed to install and maintain interactive whiteboards and wireless projectors so teachers can give multimedia presentations and record lectures.

Employment of broadcast technicians is projected to decline 3 percent from 2016 to 2026. More consumers may choose free over-the-air television programming instead of cable or satellite services, in a practice commonly referred to as “cord-cutting.” This may contribute to stronger demand for broadcast television. However, most major networks use a single facility to broadcast to multiple stations, which limits the growth potential for broadcast technicians.

Employment of sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, 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.

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, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

134,300 145,000 8 10,700

Audio and video equipment technicians

27-4011 83,300 94,000 13 10,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

Broadcast technicians

27-4012 34,000 32,900 -3 -1,100 employment projections excel document xlsx

Sound engineering technicians

27-4014 17,000 18,100 6 1,100 employment projections excel document 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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Computer support specialists

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations. These specialists either support computer networks or they provide technical assistance directly to computer users.

See How to Become One $52,160
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, and use 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 $62,190
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.

See How to Become One $55,920
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 $59,040
Radio and television announcers

Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these or other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

See How to Become One $30,830
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Bachelor's degree $38,870
Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, also known as telecom technicians, set up and maintain devices that carry communications signals, such as telephone lines and Internet routers.

Postsecondary nondegree award $53,640

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more career information and links to employment resources, visit

National Association of Broadcasters

Audio Engineering Society

For more information about certification and links to employment information for broadcast technicians, visit

Society of Broadcast Engineers

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

InfoComm International

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, Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/broadcast-and-sound-engineering-technicians.htm (visited November 01, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

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 CareerOneStop.

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).

2016 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 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

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, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

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 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 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 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.