Jobs Outlook: Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians and Radio Operators

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People seeking entry-level jobs as technicians in broadcasting are expected to face strong competition in major metropolitan areas, where pay generally is higher and the number of qualified jobseekers typically exceeds the number of openings. There, stations seek highly experienced personnel. Prospects for entry-level positions usually are better in small cities and towns for beginners with appropriate training.

Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012. Job growth in radio and television broadcasting will be limited by consolidation of ownership of radio and television stations, and by laborsaving technical advances such as computer-controlled programming and remotely controlled transmitters. Changes to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations now allow a single owner for up to eight radio stations in a single large market, and rules changes under consideration may have a similar impact on the ownership of television stations. Owners of multiple stations often consolidate the stations into a single location, reducing employment because one or a few technicians can provide support to multiple stations. Technicians who know how to install transmitters will be in demand as television stations install digital transmitters. Although most television stations are broadcasting in both analog and digital formats and plan to switch entirely to digital, radio stations are only beginning to broadcast digital signals.

Employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians in the cable and pay television portion of the broadcasting industry should grow as the range of services is expanded to provide, such products as cable Internet access and video-on-demand. Employment of these workers in the motion picture industry will grow rapidly. However, job prospects are expected to remain competitive because of the large number of people who are attracted by the glamour of working in motion pictures.

Projected job growth varies among detailed occupations in this field. Employment of broadcast technicians is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012, as advancements in technology enhance the capabilities of technicians to produce higher quality radio and television programming. Employment of radio operators is expected to decline as more stations operate transmitters that control programming remotely. Employment of audio and video equipment technicians and sound engineering technicians is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations. Not only will these workers have to set up audio and video equipment, but it will be necessary for them to maintain and repair this equipment.

In addition to employment growth, job openings also will result from the need to replace experienced technicians who leave this field. Some of these workers leave for other jobs that require knowledge of electronics, such as computer repairer or industrial machinery repairer.

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