There’s another way to work in television and it isn’t in front of the camera. Aside from the production crews and presenters, there is an expansive technical crew and broadcast engineers play a fundamental role in this side of media.
These guys work in television, radio, podcasts and other mediums to ensure that programmes are broadcasted on time and with a high quality of sound and image.
They are preoccupied with the broadcasting hardware and systems, operating, maintaining and repairing them to ensure that everything runs smoothly when the time comes to broadcast.
Broadcast engineers ensure audio-visual links are working, repair faults in broadcasting systems and try to limit equipment malfunctions.
They might also have a hand in developing and designing specialist circuits, broadcast technology systems and the like, and setting up and operating technology for broadcasts outside of the studio.
Salary & benefits
A starting salary for a broadcast engineer might hover around the £18,000 to £20,000 mark. With plenty of experience, this could increase to £35,000 to £60,000 per annum.
Working hours will vary week to week. The working hours of a broadcast engineer are unpredictable. If there are technical hitches and problems they will be expected to stay until it’s sorted out.
They might have to work long and unsociable hours, particularly for live and outside broadcasts. Working shifts is also a common feature of the broadcast engineer’s schedule.
The majority of trainee broadcast engineers are graduates with a degree in engineering. However, graduates from other disciplines, with strong numeracy skills and an interest in technology, may also enter the profession.
Broadcast engineering isn’t solely restricted to honours graduates either. Those with a HNC, HND or foundation degree in electrical engineering, broadcast engineering or electronic engineering might be able to mete out a career in the profession.
Equally, some companies will recruit those with an AVCE in Engineering, whilst those working as runners or technicians for a company might be able to move into trainee broadcast engineering roles.
Extensive work experience is generally valued over postgraduate qualifications. Other than that, a decent level of hearing and colour vision is required, as is knowledge of electronic engineering and digital theory.
Broadcast engineers will need technical know-how and sharp technical problem solving skills. They should also be whizzes on the computer and work well in teams.
Training & progression
Training is pretty much ‘on the job’. There are some (very popular) training schemes for new entrants run by organisations like the BBC and broadcast engineers might also take extra courses to supplement their on-the-job training.
Broadcast engineers tend to specialise in a particular area as their career develops and, with experience, they might move on to more team leader roles.
As most broadcasting engineers are on short-term or long-term contracts, networking will usually be important to help them seek out more lucrative contracts and progress in their careers.