Professional, management, and sales occupations generally require a college degree; technical occupations often do not. It is easier to obtain employment and gain promotions with a degree, especially in larger, more competitive markets. Advanced schooling is generally required for supervisory positions-including technical occupations-having greater responsibility and higher salaries.
Entry-level jobs in news or program production increasingly require a college degree and some broadcast experience. Approximately 450 colleges offer formal programs in journalism and mass communications, including radio and television broadcasting. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs in broadcasting. Broadcast trade schools offer courses that last 6 months to a year and teach radio and television announcing, writing, and production.
Individuals pursuing a career in broadcasting often gain initial experience through work at college radio and television stations or through internships at professional stations. Although these positions are usually unpaid, they sometimes provide college credit or tuition. More importantly, they provide hands-on experience and a competitive edge when applying for jobs. In this highly competitive industry, broadcasters are less willing to provide on-the-job training, and instead seek candidates who can perform the job immediately.
Some technical positions require only a high school diploma. However, many broadcast stations seek individuals with training in broadcast technology, electronics, or engineering from a technical school, community college, or 4-year college. An understanding of computer networks and software will become more important as the industry introduces more digital technology. Supervisory technical positions and jobs in large stations generally require a college degree.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) issues certification to technicians who pass a written examination. Several classes of certification are available, requiring increasing levels of experience and knowledge for eligibility. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandated that the FCC drop its licensing requirements for transmitter maintenance; SBE certification has filled the void left by the elimination of this license.
Employees in the radio and television broadcasting industry often find their first job in broadcast stations serving smaller markets. Competition for positions in large metropolitan areas is stronger, and these stations usually seek highly experienced personnel. Because many radio and television stations are small, workers in this industry often must change employers to advance. Relocation to other parts of the country frequently is necessary.