40 per week
£18,000 + per year
Broadcast engineers make sure that television and radio programmes are broadcast at the right times. They also make sure that they’re the highest quality. If you are very interested in TV and technology, this job could be just what you are looking for.
To do this job you should have good practical and technical skills. You should also feel comfortable with electrical and electronic equipment. The job could also need you to work long or unsocial hours.
You would usually get a job through the entrant training schemes that broadcasting companies run. For this, you would normally need a BTEC, HND or degree in electrical, electronic or broadcast engineering.
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.
Your key tasks could include:
- setting up studio equipment for transmission and editing
- designing and setting up audio and video circuits
- installing multimedia hardware, software and other digital broadcast technology systems
- setting up and operating links between studios and OB units
- vision mixing (editing programmes live as they are being transmitted or recorded)
- testing and servicing equipment
- finding and repairing technical faults as quickly as possible, with minimum loss of service.
You would work as part of a team that can also include producers, studio managers and presenters.
Working hours and conditions
You would 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, and on outside broadcasts (OBs) in all weather conditions and locations. Location work and OBs could involve working away from home around the UK and possibly abroad.
Starting salaries for trainees can be around £18,000 a year.
With experience, this can rise to between £30,000 and £40,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You would usually start in broadcast engineering through the new entrant training schemes that broadcasting companies occasionally run, such as the BBC's Trainee Technologist Scheme. For this, you would normally need a BTEC HNC, HND or degree in electrical, electronic or broadcast engineering.
Some companies may accept you with A levels or a BTEC National Diploma in science or design technology. If you don't have an engineering-related degree or HND, you will need to show that you have a strong interest in technology and an aptitude for the work.
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. Contact Creative Skillset Careers for advice on schemes that may be running.
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
- work experience placements with broadcasters.
If you don't start through a training scheme, you will need experience in maintaining and repairing electronic equipment, and you should be familiar with broadcast technology. It would be helpful to have NVQs or other qualifications in electronic or electrical engineering.
Training and development
You will usually spend between 18 months and two years on a broadcaster's training scheme, learning on the job and taking relevant short courses.
Whilst training, you might start as a tape operator or network operations assistant in a control room, and after gaining around five years' experience, 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 are working freelance, you may need to arrange this yourself.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a broadcast engineer, you should have:
- 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.
Creative Skillset (Young creative talent)
BKSTS - The Moving Image Society
Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU)
373-377 Clapham Road
Tel: 020 7346 0900
246 High Holborn
Tel: 020 3206 0400
The largest employers are the BBC and the terrestrial TV broadcasters (ITV, Channel 4, Five and S4C). You could also work for satellite, cable and digital broadcasters, independent radio stations, outside broadcast companies, or facilities houses that hire 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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