Broadcast Engineers were traditionally electrical engineers who specialised in the broadcast sector. Their areas of specialism included radio and television broadcasting, as well as audio and RF engineering. Modern broadcast engineers will usually also possess excellent computer engineering and IT skills as the sector increasingly integrates computers into the traditional broadcasting mix.
What do they do?
Broadcast Engineers operate, maintain, update and repair the hardware and systems used for broadcasting across television, radio and online.
They work in teams in a range of locations and situations, from broadcast automation systems in studios, to transmission systems for the transmitter plant, to outside broadcasts (OB’s), post-production operations and new media e.g. webcasts and interactive TV.
Broadcast Engineers can be directly involved in broadcasting programmes, or focus on maintaining and servicing the equipment. They can be generalists or highly specialised in a particular field e.g. MAM Engineer, Video Encoding Engineer, MCR/Uplink Engineer, Transmitter Engineer etc.
Their key responsibilities might include:
- The installation of multimedia hardware, software and other digital broadcast technology systems
- The setting up and operation of links between OB units and studios
- Vision mixing (editing programmes live as they are being transmitted or recorded)
- Testing and maintaining broadcast and transmission equipment
- Quickly finding and repairing technical faults, with minimum disruption to service.
- Setting up studio equipment for transmission and editing
- The design and set up of video and audio circuits
Employers usually require a degree or HND/foundation degree in one of the following subjects:
- Broadcast engineering/technology
- Electrical engineering
- Electronic engineering
Hands-on work experience is highly valued by graduate employers and you should list any that you have gained on your CV. Many broadcast organisations offer the opportunity to gain work experience and it is worth contacting the major channels if work experience is not provided as part of your degree course. It is also recommended that you get involved in any student broadcasting opportunities at your educational institution.
Skills and personal attributes
The ability to work as part of a team but also be able to use your own initiative to solve problems is valued in this profession. You will need:
- Excellent IT and programming skills across a range of platforms
- Proactive, results focussed approach to work
- Strong attention to detail
- Time management skills
- Fault-finding and problem solving skills
- A knowledge of Health & Safety in the workplace
- Great communication skills
- The ability to remain calm under pressure
Working as a Broadcast Engineer
Broadcast Engineers are in high demand and the profession offers good job prospects for individuals with the skills necessary to do these jobs.
“Engineering and technology graduate starting salaries consistently appear in the top three in the league tables for the highest graduate starting salaries.”
Broadcast Engineers often work in permanent positions, but there are also many opportunities to work as a specialist contractor in this field. Contractor salaries are often higher and working as a contractor enables the individual engineer to specialise in particular areas that interest them, becoming recognised as an expert in their field and consequently commanding a higher salary due to their specialist knowledge. If you are considering a career as a contractor in the broadcast sector, you can find out more information at http://christy-media.com/looking-for-work/thinking-about-contract-work/.
Typically Broadcast Engineers are required to work a minimum of 40 hours a week, but this can vary. Shift work that includes weekends is common and there may be an element of travel, especially if you are involved in location work or outside broadcasting. A flexible attitude toward working hours is useful in this profession.
Starting salaries for graduates entering broadcast engineering in a junior role can be from £18,000 to £24,000*, whilst experienced Broadcast Engineers will earn significantly more. For examples of salaries, please browse the Jobs Board at www.christy-media.com.
*all salaries quoted should be used as rough guides only