Broadcast engineers develop, maintain and support the equipment used to make television and radio broadcasts. They install and modify different broadcasting systems, developing and supporting the latest technologies. Broadcasting relies on sophisticated equipment to produce television and radio programmes, as well as transmit them to the outside world.
Also known as
- Engineer, Broadcasting
- Radio Broadcasting Engineer
- Television Broadcasting Engineer
- TV Broadcasting Engineer
Broadcast engineers work on the equipment used to make television and radio broadcasts.
Those who work in television are responsible for the audio and video equipment used for studio recordings, and for network and outside broadcasts.
In a large television company, studio engineers are likely to provide support to different departments, including news, broadcast and production. Some broadcast engineers are responsible for the quality of signals fed to and received from a number of networks.
Some broadcast engineers work on location with outside broadcasts, or at transmitting stations, which can be in remote areas.
Broadcast engineers also support new technologies, for example, satellite operations, and digital text services that are replacing traditional text-based information services.
Broadcast engineers also work in research and development departments, helping to create and develop new ideas.
Broadcast engineers working in radio are responsible for the maintenance and testing of control and switching systems. They use both analogue and digital coding equipment.
Broadcast engineers sometimes work in cramped or overcrowded conditions. In outside broadcasts, they may have to work in bad weather or in isolated locations. They may have to work away from home for periods of time.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
As a broadcast engineer, you need:
- To be interested in electronics and working on a wide range of advanced technological equipment.
- To work to very tight deadlines.
- The ability to think quickly and use your initiative.
- A flexible approach.
- Good communication skills.
- To improvise if things go wrong.
- A willingness to take responsibility when equipment fails.
- To stay calm under pressure; the whole production team will depend on you to keep the systems working.
- Strong team skills to work well with others.
- To work neatly.
- To have a high level of safety awareness.
- To keep up to date with advances in technology in this fast-changing area.
- A broad knowledge of engineering and technology, rather than a specialist knowledge of one particular system.
A genuine interest in this work is essential because competition for jobs is fierce and successful applicants tend to have relevant work experience.
You should take the time to research the programmes and online services offered by the company you're applying to join, and be ready to offer your opinions on these.
Pay and Opportunities
Salaries for broadcast engineers vary.
The pay rates given below are approximate.
Broadcast engineers earn in the range of £17,000 - £21,000 a year, rising to £30,000 - £43,000. Higher earners can make around £50,000 a year.
Higher salaries are available depending on employer, role and responsibilities.
Hours of work
Broadcast engineers often work long, irregular hours, including early starts, late finishes, weekends and public holidays. Some work on a freelance basis.
Where could I work?
Employers are the BBC and independent television and radio companies.
Opportunities for broadcast engineers occur with broadcasters in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Universal Jobmatch website.
Vacancies can also be found through specialist engineering recruitment agencies, internet job boards and the websites of professional engineering bodies.
Entry Routes and Training
Most entrants have a degree, foundation degree or HND in a subject such as broadcast technology, sound/broadcast engineering or electrical/electronic engineering.
Other relevant degrees include physics, and computer-related subjects such as software engineering and computer science.
However, a Higher Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start.
Having some technical skills and a strong interest in broadcasting is as important as having academic qualifications. Work experience, paid or voluntary, in areas such as local and hospital radio, local television and amateur dramatics can demonstrate this interest and experience to employers.
Major broadcasting organisations such as the BBC advertise vacancies and trainee schemes as they arise. Competition for these posts is fierce.
Initial training is usually on-the-job.
Broadcast engineers are expected to keep up to date with the fast-changing technology in this industry.
The BBC Academy website offers information on broadcast engineering.
Broadcast engineers can progress to senior and management posts after further training and experience.
The usual entry requirements for a relevant engineering degree are:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C or above
- A further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C or above
- Maths and a science or technology subject, eg, Physics may be required at A level
- English, Maths and a science subject are usually required at GCSE at grade C or above.
For entry to an engineering HND course, the usual requirement is at least 1 A level pass, normally in a maths or science subject.
To get onto a Higher Level Apprenticeship, you will need at least two A Levels, or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship.
Other qualifications, such as a relevant Edexcel (BTEC) level 3 National or the International Baccalaureate Diploma are often accepted. Check prospectuses carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
A background as a technician in electronics or sound production is useful.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Engineering) could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
London College UCK offers an HNC and HND in Electronic/Electrical Engineering, via distance learning.
The University of Portsmouth offers a BEng (Hons) in Electronic Systems Engineering, via distance learning.
- 12% of people in occupations such as broadcast engineer are self-employed.
- 4% work part-time.
- 38% have flexible hours.
Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.
Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies
Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0845 6439001
Engineering technology news
Publisher: EngineeringUK and Royal Academy of Engineering
Skills for the creative industries
Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills
Creative & Cultural Skills
Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts
Publisher: Venture Marketing Group
Getting into Engineering Courses
Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman
Address: 105 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1QL
Tel: 0141 2213181
Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Engineering Training Council Northern Ireland (ETC NI)
Northern Ireland Enquiries
Address: Sketrick House, Ards Business Park, Jubilee Road, Newtownards BT23 4YH
Tel: 028 9182 2377
Tel: 020 7010 0600