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Broadcast Engineering Degree

If you are interested in becoming a broadcast engineer and want to know more about broadcast engineering in general, read on to learn more and find out what qualifications you will need to have to enter this field.  

What is broadcast engineering

Broadcast engineering is a sub-field of electrical and computer engineering which is primarily concerned with radio and TV broadcasting. A broadcast engineer also sometimes referred to as a broadcast engineering technician, sets up and manages the video and audio equipment for various broadcasts. In order to do so, these professionals must have a thorough understanding of the principles of electrical engineering.

How to pursue broadcast engineering as a degree

If you are interested in pursuing a career in broadcast engineering, you will need to fulfill certain educational requirements. While there may be some employers who would hire applicants with an associate’s degree in the field, most employers do require an applicant to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in the field. You will also need to get relevant experience in the field.

For those seeking to apply for advanced positions in broadcast engineering, a master’s degree may be beneficial to your career prospects.

In general, the following steps may be taken by those wishing to pursue this career path:

Steps to becoming a broadcast engineer:

1. Enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in broadcast engineering OR electrical engineering OR communications/broadcast technology

2. Enroll in a graduate degree program in broadcast engineering

3. Get relevant training and experience in the field of broadcast engineering

4. Get relevant certification and licensure

Bachelor’s degree in broadcast engineering

Broadcast engineering is a form of electrical engineering and degrees in this field are focused on technology. Students will learn how to use common equipment in the field, repair electronics, and draw electronic diagrams. You will also learn about various different broadcast services such as television, radio, and film.

While there are some universities which offer programs in broadcast engineering, programs in electrical engineering are more common. A bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering will teach you about advanced concepts in communications, semiconductors, analog and digital systems, electrical networks, and embedded systems. These programs also involve courses in advanced physics and math.

Degree

Duration

Some of the courses offered

Bachelor’s degree in broadcast engineering OR electrical engineering OR communications/broadcast technology

4 years

  • Computer engineering techniques
  • Physics
  • Systems engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Radio and television broadcast systems
  • Statistics for engineers
  • Calculus

Master’s degree in broadcast engineering

If you are interested in becoming a project manager for a broadcast network, a network manager or developer, a media or broadcast engineer or a streaming media developer, you will need to have an advanced degree in the field.

A graduate program in broadcast engineering (or, as an alternative, electrical engineering) will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of all of the different aspects of media production, broadcasting, and electrical systems used in broadcasting. If you are interested in working as an engineer, an advanced degree in the field is essential.

Degree

Duration

Some of the courses offered

Master’s degree in broadcast engineering

2 years

  • Signal Processing and Data Communication
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Physical Design of Wireless Systems
  • Information Theory and Coding
  • Introduction to Operating Systems
  • Introduction to multimedia networking

Certification and licensure

While you don’t necessarily need to have a license in order to work as a broadcast engineer, some employers, especially for positions in radio, may require you to have a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensure. While there are a number of different licenses offered by the FCC, a broadcast engineer would typically require the General Radiotelephone Operator License.

The requirements for this license are:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Fluency in English
  • Passing an exam which tests your knowledge on FCC laws and operating practices as well as the fundamentals of electronics, operations, and repairs

Certifications are voluntary and are sought by those seeking to improve their job prospects. There are a number of certifications available through the Society of Broadcast Engineers which includes:

  • Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist (CBNT)
  • Certified Broadcast Technologist (CBT)
  • Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer (CPBE)

The requirements for each certification varies but typically, applicants must have a certain amount of experience in the field and may also be required to hold prior qualifications such as an FCC license or a professional engineer's (PE) license. A complete list of the requirements for each certification can be found on the Society of Broadcast Engineers website.

Career prospects and salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website provides a detailed career profile for Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians. According to their data in May 2015, these professionals made an annual median salary of $41,780 which works out to be about $20.09 per hour.

In terms of employment in the profession in 2014, there were 117,200 jobs in this field. Furthermore, it is expected to see employment growth of 7% between 2014 and 2024, which will lead to the creation of about 7,700 new jobs.

For broadcast and sound engineering technicians, there are three industries which have a high level of employment. These include:

Industry

Annual Median Wage (May 2015)

Motion picture, video, and sound recording industries

$50,400

 

Arts, entertainment, and recreation

$42,300

Radio and television broadcasting

$35,370

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