Entry into this occupation is highly competitive. Formal training in broadcasting from a college or technical school (private broadcasting school) is valuable. Most announcers have a bachelor’s
degree in a major such as communications, broadcasting, or journalism. Station officials pay particular attention to taped auditions that show an applicant’s delivery and—in television—appearance and style on commercials, news, and interviews. Those hired by television stations usually start out as production assistants, researchers, or reporters and are given a chance to move into announcing if they show an aptitude for “on-air” work. A beginner’s chance of landing an on-air job is remote, except possibly at a small radio station, as a substitute for a familiar announcer, or on the late-night shift at a larger station. In radio, newcomers usually start out taping interviews and operating equipment.
Announcers usually begin at a station in a small community and, if they are qualified, may move to a better paying job in a large city. They also may advance by hosting a regular program as a disc jockey, sportscaster, or other specialist. Competition is particularly intense for employment by networks, and employers look for college graduates with at least several years of successful announcing experience.
Announcers must have a pleasant and well-controlled voice, good timing, excellent pronunciation, and correct grammar. College broadcasting programs offer courses, such as voice and diction, to help students improve their vocal qualities. Television announcers need a neat, pleasing appearance as well. Knowledge of theater, sports, music, business, politics, and other subjects likely to be covered in broadcasts improves one’s chances for success. Announcers also must be computer literate, because programming is created and edited by computer. Announcers need strong writing skills, because they normally write their own material. In addition, they should be able to ad-lib all or part of a show and to work under tight deadlines. The most successful announcers attract a large audience by combining a pleasing personality and voice with an appealing style.
High school and college courses in English, public speaking, drama, foreign languages, and computer science are valuable, and hobbies such as sports and music are additional assets. Students may gain valuable experience at campus radio or TV facilities and at commercial stations while serving as interns. Paid or unpaid internships provide students with hands-on training and the chance to establish contacts in the industry. Unpaid interns often receive college credit and are allowed to observe and assist station employees. Although the Fair Labor Standards Act limits
the work unpaid interns may perform in a station, unpaid internships are the rule. Unpaid internships sometimes lead to paid internships, which are valuable because interns do work ordinarily performed by regular employees and may even go on the air.
Persons considering enrolling in a broadcasting school should contact personnel managers of radio and television stations, as well as broadcasting trade organizations, to determine the school’s reputation for producing suitably trained candidates.