40 per week
£20,000 + per year
Broadcast engineers work in television, radio and podcasts to make sure that programmes are broadcast at the right times. They also make sure that programmes are of the highest quality.
To do this job, you’ll need to be creative and have good practical and technical skills. You’ll also need to be comfortable working with electrical and electronic equipment. If you’re passionate about broadcasting then this job could be just what you’re looking for.
You may be able to start out through one of the entrant training schemes that broadcasting companies run. For this, you’ll usually A levels in science, maths and engineering. For some schemes, you may need a degree.
As a broadcast engineer, you might work on studio and outside broadcasts (OBs), post-production operations, and new media such as interactive TV and webcasts. You might be directly involved in broadcasting programmes, or you might focus on servicing the equipment.
In this role you might:
- set up studio equipment for transmission and editing
- design and set up audio and video circuits
- install multimedia hardware, software and other digital broadcast technology systems
- set up and operate links between studios and OB units
- edit programmes live as they are being transmitted or recorded
- test and service equipment
- find and repair technical faults as quickly as possible, with minimum loss of service
You’ll work as part of a team that can also include producers, studio managers and presenters.
Working hours and conditions
You’ll normally work around 40 hours a week. Shift work is common, including weekends and nights. You may need to work extra hours at short notice, particularly for news programmes.
You could work in recording studios, studio galleries, control rooms and maintenance workshops. If you’re working on outside broadcasts (OBs), you’ll need to be prepared to do this in all weather conditions and locations. Location work and OBs could involve working away from home around the UK and possibly abroad.
As a trainee you’ll start on around £20,000 a year.
With experience, this can rise to between £30,000 and £46,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You’ll usually start in broadcast engineering through the new entrant training schemes that some broadcasting companies run. Examples are the BBC Engineering Apprentice or the BBC Engineer Traineeship.
To get onto the BBC Engineering Apprentice scheme you’ll usually need A levels in science, maths and engineering. You’ll work toward a BEng in Engineering and you’ll also get lots of work experience.
The BBC Engineer Traineeship is for graduates. You’ll need a degree in:
- broadcast engineering
- broadcast technology
- computer science.
For more information on BBC training schemes go to the BBC website.
Another option is to find work as a runner or assistant at a TV station, and later apply for a place on an in-house engineering training scheme.
Competition for places on training schemes is strong, and you may increase your chances by getting practical experience first in using broadcast technology equipment. You could get this through:
- student film and TV productions
- community or hospital radio
- a placement with a broadcaster.
Check out work experience opportunities on Channel 4's website. You can also find out more from the BBC's work experience pages.
If you don't start through a training scheme, you’ll need experience in maintaining and repairing electronic equipment. You'll also need to be familiar with broadcast technology. It would be helpful to have work-related qualifications, such as a Level 2 certificate or diploma in electronic or electrical engineering.
Training and development
You’ll usually spend between 18 months and 2 years on a broadcaster's training scheme. You’ll learn on the job and take relevant short courses.
You might start as a tape operator or network operations assistant in a control room. With around 5 years' experience, you could then progress to broadcast engineer.
Throughout your career, you should keep up to date with new technology, for example digital and multimedia systems. Your employer may provide ongoing training. If you’re working freelance, you may need to arrange this yourself.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a broadcast engineer, you’ll need:
- good practical and technical skills
- knowledge of electrical and electronic equipment
- awareness of health and safety in the workplace
- the ability to find and repair faults
- good communication and teamwork skills
- flexibility and willingness to work long or unsocial hours when necessary
- stamina and fitness
- IT skills.
BKSTS - The Moving Image Society
Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU)
Tel: 020 7346 0900
Tel: 020 3206 0400
The largest employers are:
- Channel 4
You could also work for satellite, cable and digital broadcasters, independent radio stations, outside broadcast companies, or a facilities house that hires out broadcast equipment.
Jobs can be permanent or fixed-term contracts. Freelance work is also possible with experience.
You may find the following useful for vacancies and making contacts:
Job market information
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