What does a Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician do?

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What is a Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician?

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio and television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies and in office and school buildings. They generally work indoors in office buildings and radio, television, or recording studios. However, those who broadcast news and other programs outside the studio may work outdoors in all types of weather. Technicians typically work full time.

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What does a Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician do?

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate, monitor, and adjust audio and video equipment to regulate the volume and ensure quality in radio and television broadcasts, concerts, and other performances
  • Set up and tear down equipment for events and live performances
  • Record speech, music, and other sounds on recording equipment
  • Synchronize sounds and dialogue with action taking place on television or in movie productions
  • Convert video and audio records to digital formats for editing
  • Install audio, video, and sometimes lighting equipment in hotels, offices, and schools
  • Report and repair equipment problems
  • Keep records of recordings and equipment used.

These workers may also be called broadcast or sound engineering technicians or operators or engineers. At smaller radio and television stations, broadcast and sound technicians may do many jobs. At larger stations, they are likely to specialize more, although even their job assignments may change from day to day. Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up and operate audio and video equipment, although the kind of equipment they use may depend on the particular type of technician or industry. Audio and video equipment technicians set up and operate audio and video equipment. They also connect wires and cables and set up and operate sound and mixing boards and related electronic equipment. They work with microphones, speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, and recording equipment. The equipment they operate is used for meetings, concerts, sports events, conventions, news conferences, as well as lectures, conferences, and presentations in businesses and universities. They may also set up and operate custom lighting systems. They frequently work directly with clients and must listen to, understand, and provide solutions to problems in a simple and clear manner. In addition, many audio and video equipment technicians are self-employed and must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients. Sound engineering technicians operate machines and equipment that record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions. They record audio performances or events and may combine tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product. Sound engineering technicians operate transmitters to broadcast radio or television programs and use computers both to program the equipment and to edit audio recordings.

How to become a Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician

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 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. 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. 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. 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.

What is the workplace of a Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician like?

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, or recording studios. However, some work outdoors in all types of conditions to broadcast news and other programs. Audio and video technicians also set up audiovisual systems in offices, schools, government agencies, hospitals, and homes.