Studying Radio Broadcasting: Degrees at a Glance
Most undergraduate degree programs in broadcasting cover multiple forms of media, including radio, television and digital media. Some programs are designed to teach students about the technical skills needed for running broadcasting equipment. Other programs focus on teaching students about communications topics, like writing for media broadcasting and on-air public speaking.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that during the 2010-2020 decade, technician careers in broadcast engineering were expected to increase by nine percent. Careers related to the field of radio announcing were projected to experience a slightly slower growth rate of only seven percent. Although the BLS predicted significant competition for careers in radio broadcasting, some niche fields might offer more opportunities, such as Internet radio.
|Associate Degree||Bachelor's Degree|
|Who is this program for?||People who want to learn about radio broadcasting and broadcasting equipment||Individuals interested in radio broadcasting careers, including careers in announcing, media writing, advertising and station management|
|Common Career Paths (with approx. median annual salary)|| - Broadcast technician ($37,000)*|
- Freelance news writer ($56,000)*
- Radio mechanic ($39,000)**
|- Broadcast station producer ($71,000)*|
- Radio disc jockey ($27,000)*
- Broadcasting public relations specialist ($53,000)*
|Time to Completion||2 years, full time||4 years, full time|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Complete core broadcasting classes|
- Pass general education classes
- Meet elective requirements
- Complete class assignments
- Pass final exams
| - Complete broadcasting courses|
- Participate in practicum hours at the campus broadcasting station, if applicable
- Maintain grade-point average
- Complete capstone project in broadcasting or communications
|Prerequisites|| - High school diploma or equivalent || - Equivalent of a high school diploma|
- For some programs, an associate degree in broadcasting or mass communications
|Online Availability||Not many||Some programs available|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (July 2012 figures)
Associate Degree in Radio Broadcasting
The majority of associate degree programs in broadcasting cover information about radio and television broadcasting. Students gain fundamental skills in setting up recording equipment, preparing broadcasts and broadcasting information over the air. Students may also learn about speaking clearly on the radio and developing radio personas.
Most associate degree programs in radio broadcasting are structured with a mix of lectures and hands-on learning. Some programs require students to participate in on-campus broadcasting projects, such as campus radio shows or campus news programs. Several degree programs may also teach students about the business side of broadcasting, including on-air promotions and radio station management.
Pros and Cons
- Most programs train you to broadcast in multiple mediums, (TV, radio and online), which can make you eligible for more broadcasting job opportunities
- Several colleges and universities have on-site broadcasting stations, allowing you to gain real-world experience
- Some of the technical training you receive in these programs can be used for careers outside of broadcasting, such as careers related to maintaining, installing and repairing video or audio equipment*
- Several careers in radio broadcasting require applicants to hold bachelor's degrees*
- Business conglomerates are merging radio stations, which could seriously minimize potential job opportunities for radio broadcasting careers*
- You'll face heavy competition for most jobs in the broadcast industry*
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Courses and Requirements
Most broadcasting degree programs will require you to take courses in general communications, such as public speaking and persuasion. Broadcasting electives that might make you more marketable may include news writing, voice acting, field reporting, public relations and broadcast production.
Common classes in either media studies or radio broadcasting may include some of the following:
- Broadcast journalism
- Broadcast programming management
- Radio advertising
- Broadcast announcing
- Studio operations
Although many universities will offer you the chance to work for the campus broadcasting station, not all associate degree programs require this participation. Other than completing course assignments and passing all required classes in the radio broadcasting major, the only other common requirement for earning an associate degree includes completing general education classes.
Online Degree Options
You won't find many online associate degree programs in radio broadcasting. Some colleges do offer several general education classes online, but this varies by institution. Degree programs in radio broadcasting require a lot of hands-on training, especially when learning how to use and repair equipment, making online programs less attractive. Furthermore, students who are trying to learn about public speaking or radio announcing may require immediate guidance from professors, which is difficult to do online.
Stand Out with This Degree
According to the BLS, Internet radio is becoming a major industry trend. Consequently, while completing your degree in radio broadcasting, you may also want to take classes related to online broadcasting and promotion. Knowing how to stream live radio online may give you an advantage when seeking work. You may also want to learn about creating podcasts and webcasts, which are online videos that show announcers discussing topics and interviewing people.
Additionally, social networking has become one of the latest advertising tools for businesses and broadcasting agencies. Many broadcasting employers are looking for job candidates who know how to write interesting blogs or manage viral advertising campaigns. While still in the broadcasting associate degree program, you can take electives in broadcasting or Internet advertising to get some of the training you need for social network marketing.
Bachelor's Degree in Radio Broadcasting
Similar to many associate degree programs, the majority of bachelor's degree programs in broadcasting cover most major forms of media. In these programs, students learn about the production process, including information about technologies used for audio and visual programming. Students will also take classes that discuss legal issues in the broadcasting industry, such as copyright laws, broadcasting regulations, contractual agreements and censorship.
Most bachelor's degree programs in broadcasting teach students about the history of the industry so they may better understand and spot industry trends. Students are also expected to gain the skills necessary to report news stories to the public in ways that are both entertaining and informative. This includes demonstrating writing proficiency and story concepts as well as production concepts. You'll typically learn about communication theories and how the media industry affects everyday life.
Pros and Cons
- Between 2010 and 2020, media-related careers for writers are expected to grow by 13%*
- Broadcasting courses provide training with media writing, management, technical training and advertising, which can make you eligible for multiple career paths
- 4-year universities often have many student clubs, and joining national or local broadcasting clubs may help you find more employment opportunities
- As more broadcasting companies buy out independent stations to make conglomerate stations, job opportunities are expected to decline*
- Due to job competition in major cities, broadcast professionals may have to relocate to find employment opportunities*
- Getting broadcasting experience outside of the classroom may require working for smaller broadcasting stations, which could mean working for a lower salary*
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Common Courses and Requirements
Most bachelor's degree programs in broadcasting require students to complete 45-60 units of broadcasting courses and electives. In these degree programs, there are usually several elective options that will allow you to shape your degree to fit your career plans. With elective coursework, you can get additional training in areas such as multimedia writing, broadcast directing and media editing.
Core classes in broadcasting often include some of the following:
- Audio production
- Mass communications law
- Broadcast story development
- Multimedia training
To graduate from this program, you'll most likely need to complete a practicum or internship in the field. The majority of universities have campus broadcasting stations where students can fulfill practicum requirements. Most bachelor's degree programs in broadcasting also require students to complete a final project, sometimes referred to as a capstone project. Other graduation requirements may include completing all assigned projects, maintaining a particular grade point average and passing final exams.
Online Program Info
There are some fully online bachelor's degree programs in broadcasting. Several of these programs will only accept students who already hold associate degrees in mass communications or broadcasting. Online degree programs in broadcasting can prepare students for careers in corporate communications, electronic broadcasting and public relations. Not all online programs provide broadcasting internship opportunities, which may limit your chances of gaining practical experience. Furthermore, online degree programs in broadcasting may be costly.
Getting Ahead with This Degree
While in the bachelor's degree program, one way to get ahead includes taking every opportunity to gain work experience at the campus broadcasting station. If you have a particular career goal, such as becoming a radio personality, then you can build experience by volunteering to host as many radio shows as possible. If you're not quite sure about what you want to do in broadcasting, working different jobs at the campus broadcasting station will allow you to gain work experience and may help you determine which career field works best for your interests.