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What is a Broadcast Engineer?

Engineers install, test, operate and repair electronic broadcast transmission equipment.
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  • Written By: E. Ashantiva
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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Broadcast and sound engineers install, test, operate and repair electronic equipment that is used to transmit radio, television, and cable programs. Broadcast engineers also produce soundtracks for motion pictures, operate sound for live events and concerts, and record music in recording studios. Included in the larger field of electrical engineering, broadcast engineers must have a working knowledge of audio engineering, computer engineering and radio frequency engineering.

Duties and Responsibilities

Each broadcasting station requires a broadcast engineer, although some engineers service an entire broadcasting group or freelance for many stations. Duties consist of maintaining digital broadcast automation systems, digital recording equipment, and radio towers. Broadcast engineers also regulate the clarity, signal strength, and the range of sounds and colors for radio and television broadcasts. Work may focus on the the studio end, the transmitter end, as well as remote broadcasts.

In recent years, broadcasting has converted to digital, which has saved the industry time and money and has also consolidated the broadcast engineer’s daily tasks. Although most broadcast studios and control rooms are digital, it is still necessary for the engineer to understand analog methods.

Broadcast Engineer Employment Facts

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Competition is intense for broadcast engineering jobs, with higher-paying jobs generally being located in large metro areas. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 38,000 people in the U.S. identified as broadcast technicians in 2006, and the profession is only expected to grow. In fact, it is expected to grow faster than the average for all professions through 2016. Those with a wide range of skills and knowledge are more likely to find more job opportunities than those with focused skill sets. In 2006, the median salary for broadcast engineers was $30,690 US Dollars (USD), while the medial salary for sound engineers was $43,010 USD.

Broadcast Engineer Technical Skills

Although requirements vary from station to station, generally broadcast engineers are knowledgeable in a wide array of technology, from modern digital methods to traditional broadcast systems. Some areas of knowledge include acoustical engineering, broadcast automation, communications equipment, production switchers, and RF satellite linking.

Educational Requirements for Broadcast Engineers

Broadcast engineer positions usually require a degree in electrical engineering, telecommunications, computer information systems or computer engineering. Depending on the level of technical expertise, in the U.S., a job candidate may need an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Licensing is not required in the U.S. to become a broadcast engineer.

Some professional organizations related to the field of broadcast engineering include the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE), the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and the Association of Public Radio Engineers (APRE).

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