Audio Equipment Technician Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an audio equipment technician career? Get real job descriptions, career information and salary info to see if this career path could be right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being an Audio Equipment Technician

Audio equipment technicians, more commonly called AV technicians, set up, run and maintain audiovisual equipment for businesses, schools, radio stations and other environments. Find out the pros and cons of being an audio and video equipment technician to see if this career is right for you.

Pros of a Career As an Audio Equipment Technician
Average median salary (41,780 in 2014)*
Minimal training and education required*
You can often work as an assistant in order to gain experience*
10,600 new jobs projected for the 2012-2022 decade*

Cons of a Career As an Audio Equipment Technician
The job can be physically demanding*
Work hours can often go beyond 40 weekly, including weekends and holidays*
Troubleshooting an AV problem during an event can be stressful*
Contract deadlines can create heavy workloads*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

AV technicians work with video screens and monitors, microphones, speakers, projectors and recording equipment. They are in charge of setting up and operating this equipment for radio and television broadcasts, sporting events, conventions, news conferences and other events. At live events, they arrive early to connect cables, speakers, wires, mixing boards and other related equipment. They operate sound and mixing boards during the event and tear everything down at the end of the event. Other duties may include using equipment to record speech or music on the radio, at live events or at meetings. They may also be responsible for repairing equipment or for reporting equipment problems.

AV technicians can also work in business and school environments installing and maintaining AV equipment used for presentations. The advent of digital movie screens has provided jobs for technicians in the film industry, where they are needed for installation and troubleshooting of this technology.

Career Prospects and Salary Info

The national median salary for AV technicians, as of May 2014, was $41,780, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As of May 2012, 24% of all broadcast and sound engineering technicians, including the subset of AV technicians, worked in TV and radio broadcasting, while 10% worked for the film and video industry.

According to the BLS, employment of AV technicians was expected to grow at a rate of about 14% from 2012-2022, which was about the same as the rate of growth for all occupations. Projected job growth is attributed to several factors, including newer AV facilities in schools and universities, new technology in home and movie theaters and an increased use of video conferencing.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

According to the BLS, the minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma or GED certificate. However, most employers require some kind of formal training, college education or experience. Opportunities such as being a part of an audiovisual club at your high school, certificate programs, associate degree programs or previous work experience are all valuable.

Skills/Experience

The following list includes some of the preferred skills mentioned by the BLS and requested in job postings: communication skills, including teamwork and customer service; high level of self-motivation; physical strength; manual dexterity; troubleshooting and problem-solving skills; and ability to quickly learn new technology. Experience in installation of AV equipment, construction and handling of power tools is also important.

What Are Employers Looking For?

Some employers prefer that you have an associate degree. Others simply require that you have some experience with AV equipment. Jobs can be found with companies that design audio and video systems or with organizations that use them. Requirements range from experience in electronics and installation of AV equipment to construction and customer service skills. The following information was culled from a list of job postings submitted to Infocomm International, a nonprofit organization of audiovisual professionals, in March 2012:

  • An Oklahoma firm that designs audio and visual systems for business, governmental, medical, religious and educational organizations was looking for an AV installation technician. Experience installing audio and video equipment was preferred, and knowledge of electronics was desired. Construction skills and the ability to use power tools were also requested.
  • A large audio-video systems company in Denver, CO, that conducted business on a national level, sought an AV service technician to test, maintain and repair systems for performing arts venues, sporting events and a variety of other settings. Preferred qualifications included a 2-year degree, experience in the field, customer service skills and the ability to play a musical instrument. This company had offices in eight major cities.
  • An AV technician position was available at a resort in Illinois. This position required a positive attitude and a willingness to work split shifts assisting hotel guests with audiovisual equipment. Six months experience and customer service skills were requested, but no formal education was required.
  • A well-known New Hampshire college sought an AV operations technician to set up, maintain and operate AV systems throughout the school. Two years experience and an associate degree in the field or equivalent experience was required.

Making Your Skills Stand Out

Consider a Degree or Certificate Program

Although formal college training is not required, the BLS points out that a certificate or other type of training program can provide you with skills and give you a competitive edge when job searching. Because some employers are looking for candidates with an associate degree, staying in school to obtain one can be in your interest. Certificate programs in audio and video technology teach you how to set up and operate recording equipment and may also delve into studio recording techniques. Some courses may also teach you about basic electrical theory, lighting and sound. Associate degree programs cover the same skill sets, while providing general education coursework.

Obtain Certification

The BLS also indicates that obtaining certification, while voluntary, can show employers that you have knowledge and experience with the most recent technologies. Infocomm International offers a Certified Technology Specialist credential for AV technicians, obtainable by passing an exam.

Other Fields to Consider

Sound Engineering Technician

If you'd like to delve further into the artistic aspects of audio technology and make a slightly higher income, consider becoming a sound engineering technician. These professionals record and mix sound in a studio or live venue. You could work in a recording studio where you would record music or sound for movies; or you could mix live sound for concerts, theater productions or sporting events. A 1-year certificate program can provide you with some of the skills you'll need, though associate degree programs in audio or sound engineering are also available. The median annual wage for this position was approximately $47,000 as of May 2011, with a projected growth of 1% from 2010-2020, according to the BLS.

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technician

On the other hand, if you're more excited about technical work with computers and other electronics, you could earn even more money by becoming an electrical or electronic engineering technician. This position involves assisting in the design and development of a variety of electrical devices, such as computers, navigational equipment or monitoring devices used for medical purposes. You'll generally need an associate degree in electronic or electrical engineering technology to pursue this career path. Coursework typically includes classes in computer programming, circuitry and physics. The projected job growth for this position for the 2010-2020 decade was just 2%; the 2011 median annual wage for this job was slightly under $57,000.

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