Becoming a Broadcaster: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a broadcaster? Get real job duties, career outlook and salary information to see if a career as a broadcaster is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Broadcaster

Careers in broadcasting - from on air to behind the scenes - span a wide variety of job duties that include providing news and entertainment to numerous media outlets. If you're considering a career as a broadcaster, there are a few pros and cons to consider.

Pros of Being a Broadcaster
Can work in many industries (radio, television, cable, Internet)*
Job options are better in smaller markets*
Opportunity for travel when on assignment*
Continual demand for programming*

Cons of Being a Broadcaster
Decline in employment (-14% for reporters and correspondents and -2% for broadcast news analysts between 2012 and 2022)*
High competition in large markets*
Low income for beginning professionals in small markets ($30,000 median salary for radio and television announcers in 2014)*
Continual geographic relocation as you advance*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

The job duties of a broadcaster vary depending on what type of medium they work for. For instance, reporters and correspondents present a variety of news and entertainment content for television and radio outlets, as well as websites and magazines. Radio and television announcers may also report on general news, sports, weather and music along with providing commentary. Radio announcers typically introduce music, interview guests, make station announcements and operate equipment in the studio.

Reporters and announcers could deliver news for recorded or live television or radio broadcasts. In addition to providing on-air commentary and information, these professionals may also research information, prepare and read scripts and conduct interviews. They may also be asked to host a special event.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Career opportunities for reporters and correspondents are expected to decline by fourteen percent from 2012-2022, due to corporate downsizing and lack of advertising revenue, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Based on 2014 BLS data, reporters and correspondents earned a median salary of about $36,000, though the top ten percent earned $82,000 or more. Broadcast news analysts are predicted to see a two percent decline in employment between 2012 and 2022; these workers also earned a median salary of about $61,000 in 2014 - though the top ten percent earned more than $182,000 annually.

A zero percent rise in employment for radio and television announcers was projected by the BLS from 2012-2012. Due to technological advances and corporate consolidation, the need for this position is slowing. The 2014 median salary of this group was $30,000 as reported by the BLS.

Education Requirements and Career Skills

The BLS notes that employers of broadcasters often look for candidates who have at least a bachelor's degree, though some will hire those with just relevant experience. Journalism, broadcasting and communications are all relevant programs. As job openings grow scarce and the competition for jobs increases, you may wish to pursue a degree that includes training in areas such as writing or news broadcasting. Specialized programs are also available that provide training in areas such as sports broadcasting.

Broadcaster careers typically require the ability to interpret and analyze information. This requires active listening and learning skills and well-developed interpersonal skills. You'll need to be comfortable working with other team members to develop stories and produce news features. As these professionals are often tasked with writing their own scripts for broadcast, excellent writing skills are important in these broadcasting careers.

Job Listings from Real Employers

In addition to a bachelor's degree, careers for announcers, reporters and correspondents often require professional experience or training. Employers also seek candidates with excellent communication skills since there's significant and constant exposure to the public. Here are some excerpts from real job postings from April 2012 for broadcasting opportunities throughout the country:

  • A Minneapolis radio affiliate is seeking a broadcast journalist for a variety of on-air and production duties, including writing, editing and anchoring stories. Three years of experience in radio or television news broadcasting are required and a bachelor's degree in journalism is preferred.
  • An Indianapolis news station is looking for a general assignment reporter. A bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism or a similar field is required plus three years of television newsroom anchoring or reporting experience. Knowledge of social media is necessary and the candidate must be able to work under pressure.
  • A radio station in Indianapolis needs an on-air talent to produce a radio show that's entertaining and informative. An associate's degree or equivalent is required plus two years of experience as a radio morning show host. Equivalent combination of education and experience will be considered.
  • A Hollywood radio network is looking for a radio announcer/DJ for either part- or full-time work. This candidate could choose to work in sports, music or entertainment.

How to Get Ahead in Your Career

While the biggest challenge you may face in your broadcasting career is getting your foot in the door, there are ways in which you can gain valuable professional experience as a student. Many broadcasting degree programs feature practical experience working with campus radio, the Internet podcasts or television stations. You may also have the opportunity to gain college credit for completing a professional internship with a local broadcasting station or company. The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF) offers internship opportunities like the Washington News Internship Program. In addition to the willingness to change markets for career advancement, NABEF stresses the importance of internships as a method of gaining valuable experience for your resume.

Alternative Careers in Broadcasting

Broadcast Technician

If you'd like to work in broadcasting, but be more involved in the technical aspect, you can consider work as a broadcast technician. This career deals with the set up, operation and monitoring of various types of recording equipment during a live or taped broadcast. You may be in charge of converting recordings to digital formats for editing. Unlike broadcasters, technicians could have a high school diploma for entry-level work; however, many in this career obtain postsecondary training. According to BLS projections, employment of broadcast technicians was expected to increase by nine percent from 2010-2020. These professionals, based on BLS 2011 data, earned a median salary of about $37,000.

Film and Video Editor

Video and film editors are another option in broadcasting if you'd like to work behind the scenes. This career works with directors and/or producers to develop a finished product for a recorded television broadcast. Although a bachelor's degree may not be required for all video editing positions, many professionals spend years gaining experience as assistant editors working for small productions before gaining the opportunity to edit a larger television broadcast. Due to some reporters and correspondents editing their own news stories in the field, the BLS projected a slower-than-average job growth of five percent from 2010-2020 for both film and video editors. However, average salaries were around $57,000 for video editors in radio and television broadcasting in May 2011. Editors in the motion picture and video industries were among the highest paid with an average annual income of $75,000 at that same time, per the BLS.

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