Most broadcast and sound engineering technicians have an associate’s degree or vocational certification, although some are hired with only a high school diploma. Some formal training, gained through either work experience or education, is often required.
Audio and video equipment technicians need to have at least a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate to be eligible for entry-level positions. However, many also have an associate’s degree or vocational certificate.
Technical training for audio and video equipment technicians may take several months to a year to complete. In this training, they get hands-on experience with the equipment they will use in many entry-level positions. Coursework and practical experience from a high school or college audiovisual club can prepare a student to be an audio and video equipment technician.
Similarly, broadcast technicians need at least a high school diploma or a GED, although many also have some college education or a vocational training certificate in a related field. Because of the competitiveness of the industry, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in broadcast technology, electronics, computer networking, or a related field can help a technician's career.
Sound engineering technicians usually complete a vocational program, which may take up to a year. Many technicians have an associate’s degree.
Prospective broadcast and sound engineering technicians should complete high school courses in math, physics, and electronics and need to have excellent computer skills to be successful in this field.
Technicians who have work experience and formal training in their field will have the best opportunities for a job. Because technology is constantly improving, technicians often enroll in continuing education and receive on-the-job training to become skilled in new equipment and systems. On-the-job training may include topics such as setting up cables, 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 formal apprenticeship programs do exist, more frequently a new technician will accompany a more senior level technician to get the training and skills necessary for advancement.
Although not required by most employers, earning voluntary certification may offer advantages in getting a job as a broadcast or sound engineering technician. Certification allows employers to be sure 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 a broadcast networking certification, each of which requires passing an exam. Similarly, InfoComm International offers an audiovisual Certified Technology Specialist credential.
Although many broadcast and sound engineering technicians work first in small markets or with small stations in big markets, after they gain the necessary experience and skills they often transfer to larger, better paying radio or television stations. Large stations almost never hire someone without previous experience, and they value more specialized skills.
Experienced workers with strong technical skills can become supervisory technicians or chief engineers. A college degree in engineering is typically needed to become chief engineer at large television stations.
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 the equipment and edit audio and video recordings.
Manual dexterity. Technicians set up audio and visual equipment and cables which 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 problems with the equipment and propose possible solutions to them. Employers typically desire applicants with a variety of skills who are able to set up equipment, maintain the equipment, and troubleshoot and solve any problems.
Technical skills. Technicians work with and repair a variety of electrical, electronic, and mechanical systems and equipment.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition