Broadcast technicians for a TV station have a wide-ranging set of job tasks. One minute they could be calibrating a video switcher used for the evening news, and the next, swapping out a hard drive for an editing bay. In a smaller market, a broadcast technician may even accompany reporters out in the field on an electronic news-gathering shoot. An analytical mind, as well as a strong background in computer science, are two requirements for a successful candidate as a broadcast TV technician.
The main requirement for someone looking to find employment as a broadcast technician is a high school diploma or GED. In addition, many broadcast stations require that candidates have at least an associate or bachelor's degree in a related field, such as electrical engineering or computer science, to qualify. Depending on the station and market, a certain number of years of on-the-job training, for example as a broadcast technician assistant, may substitute for a higher education degree. Because of the digital switchover in broadcasting in the 2000s, a knowledge of computers and networking is becoming more of a prerequisite than it has been in the past.
Applying for the Job
The first and most basic step in applying for a job as a broadcast technician is to fill out the application form. This can either be in paper or on the company website. Depending on the broadcast station's human resource policies, you may also be able to submit a CV or resume as well. If you have prior experience with broadcasting, such as college or vocational school productions, include these on your resume. If you have hands-on experience with vocational or college productions, ask the HR department if you can submit a demo reel -- this is a short compilation of highlights of some the productions on which you've worked.
License and Certification
Most broadcast technician positions don't require any formal licensing or certification. Depending on the station, however, candidates may be required to pass a hands-on knowledge or practical examination before they are allowed to handle equipment in the control room. The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers a number of certification classes for technicians. A certification from the SBE is an excellent way to show potential employers that you are serious about a position in the broadcast industry and also a effective way to stand out in an competitive larger market such as New York or Los Angeles.
Career Growth/Additional Opportunities
An experienced broadcast engineer looking for additional opportunities can shift to a larger market. In fact this is a career path that many broadcast technicians follow: first starting out in a small station in a small market, such as Abeline, and then, after gaining experience, moving to a mid-size market such as St. Louis, before landing a supervisory position in a top market such as New York. Advancement to supervisory positions within the industry is usually restricted to engineers with college degrees at the bachelor's or master's level.