Broadcast engineers develop, maintain, repair and operate equipment used across television, radio and new media. They are also known as radio/TV engineers.
Broadcast engineers ensure that the equipment is of the highest broadcast quality to make radio, TV and online programmes. They may be studio/office based, supporting live/recorded TV and radio and post-production operations or be on location. Their responsibilities include:
- Designing and installing audio and visual circuits, hardware and software and broadcast systems
- Establishing audio and visual links between different units or for outside broadcasts
- Responding to technical faults and repairing them quickly
- Servicing and testing equipment
- Maintaining radio transmitters
- Supporting other departments including news, broadcast and production
- Working on satellite operations, digital and analogue technologies
- Working in research departments to create and develop new ideas to meet the requirements of colleagues and customers.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for broadcast engineers
Broadcast engineers need:
- Thorough knowledge of broadcasting technology
- An understanding of analogue and digital electronic systems
- Excellent IT skills
- A creative approach to problem solving
- Quick thinker and ability to use initiative
- To be calm under pressure
- Good time management skills and ability to prioritise
- Good teamworking skills
- A flexible approach and ability to improvise
- To be able to explain technical subjects in a non-technical way
- Knowledge of health and safety.
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of broadcast engineers
- BBC, ITV, Channel 4, STV, Five and S4C
- Independent radio stations across the UK
- Satellite, cable and digital broadcasters
- Outside broadcast companies
- Independent production companies
Job vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications and specialist engineering recruitment agencies.
Qualifications and training required
There are routes into a career as a broadcast engineer for both university graduates and school leavers.
Most have a degree, foundation degree or HND in electrical/electronic/ sound/broadcast engineering. Other degrees including Physics and Computer Science are also a way into this career. For entry to a relevant degree course the usual requirement is 3 A levels, normally to include Maths, and a Science or Technology subject, often Physics. GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C or above are also required along with a good mix of other subjects, including English.
In Scotland HNC/HND entry requires 1-2 Highers and good National 5s. Degree courses require 4-5 Highers including Maths and Physics or a technological subject. Check each institution carefully. There may be Modern Apprenticeships.
Other qualifications such as BTEC level 3 National or the International Baccalaureate Diploma are often accepted. Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to one A level. Always make sure you check individual university, college or employer entry qualifications carefully, as specific requirements may differ.
You can also get into broadcast engineering through higher/degree level apprenticeships. Large broadcasting organisations such as the BBC, advertise vacancies and training schemes on their website.
Having work experience in a broadcast or related setting (sound operator at your local theatre/hospital radio) is also a good way of showing your interest and commitment to this career.