Study Broadcasting Communications: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Degree Info

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What will you learn in a broadcasting communications degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Broadcasting Communications Associate's and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

The broadcasting industry has faced multiple changes as technology advances. The industry includes various occupations that you may qualify for with a broadcasting communications degree. At the associate's level, you prepare for entry-level positions at radio and television stations, such as a broadcast technician. The bachelor's degree program provides more advanced study, which can help you prepare for careers in broadcast news analysis, production or direction.

Some job prospects for broadcasting careers fare better than others, according to 2010-2020 employment projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); broadcast technicians were expected to see a 9% employment growth, broadcast news analysts may see a 10% growth rate, and radio and television announcers may see a 7% increase. However, reporters and correspondents may see an 8% decline in employment.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in working in entry-level support or technical roles People who want to pursue a career path toward news analysis, anchoring, production or direction
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean salary) - Public address announcer ($40,000)*
- Broadcast technician ($42,000)*
- Radio operator ($45,000)*
- Audio and video equipment technician ($46,000)*
- Sound engineering technician ($56,000)*
- Broadcast news analyst ($76,000)*
- Radio or television announcer ($41,000)*
- Reporter or correspondent ($44,000)*
- Producer or director ($92,000)*
Time to Completion High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits - Roughly 120 credits
- Internship or field experience
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Rare Rare

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Broadcasting Communications

Associate's degree programs provide a basic education in communicating news and other stories through multiple media platforms. The development of information communicated through the Internet and other web-based technologies has had an impact on job growth in the industry. Consequently, some schools structure programs to deliver training in broadcasting over digital technologies. The associate's degree program helps you establish the basic skills and analysis techniques required for your specific career path. Some schools have various communication programs that focus on specific fields, such as broadcast technology and radio and television production.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Several occupations pay relatively competitive salaries
  • Programs provide a stepping-stone to bachelor's degree programs
  • Some industry careers only require an associate's degree

Cons

  • Some careers require further education
  • Slower-than-average job growth is projected for some occupations
  • May compete with those with bachelor's degrees

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

Common Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program requires roughly 60 credits in general education, elective and core coursework. Programs may teach on-air personality development, diction, speech and journalism fundamentals. Internships are required in some programs. Some common courses may include:

  • Broadcast journalism
  • Media literacy
  • Media production
  • Digital video
  • Radio broadcasting
  • Ethics
  • Production/anchoring

Online Course Info

Locating an online broadcasting communications degree program may prove difficult. However, some schools offer a portion of their curricula online. Additionally, some of the general education classes or introductory communications classes may be offered online to provide you with some scheduling flexibility.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

The BLS reported online news and podcasts are growing so gaining proficiency in digital computing skills can give you an edge over the competition. Experience also plays a significant role in employer hiring decisions, and employers may look for candidates who participated in internships during their studies. Even though many programs don't require you to complete an internship, you can still find opportunities at local radio or television stations. Additionally, if your school has a radio or television station, you may be able to gain practical experience there.

After graduating, consider obtaining certification from the Society of Broadcast Engineers in order to help validate your skills and expertise. A variety of certifications are available, including those for equipment operators and broadcasting engineer specialists. Each certification has its own education and experience requirements, but an exam is typically necessary for each credential.

Degree Alternatives

With some broadcasting communications career prospects rising at sluggish rates, you may want to consider other fields of study before starting your degree program. The telecommunications associate's degree program offers training in the modern technologies used to distribute various data types, including voice and video. Graduates of the program find work at Internet service providers and companies that use communications technologies. The program offers a science- and technology-based curriculum and may lead to opportunities in engineering technology.

According to BLS 2010-2020 projections, telecommunications equipment installers and repairers may see employment rise 15%. Individuals with specialized expertise in technologies such as on-demand technology, broadband connection and PBX (private branch exchange) installation may see the best prospects. As of May 2011, these professionals earned approximate average salaries of $53,000, reported the BLS.

Bachelor's Degree in Broadcasting Communications

The bachelor's degree program takes your broadcasting communications education further through upper-division coursework, hands-on experiences in studios and participation in field projects or internships. You learn the principles and concepts required to begin a career in audio production, electronic media, cable television or online media. The program offers a broad education by reviewing the history of media and may also include an area of emphasis, such as electronic media or radio production.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many employers prefer candidates with bachelor's degrees
  • Programs provide experience through campus studios, newspapers and field experiences
  • Some programs allow you to choose concentrations specific to your career goals

Cons

  • Job competition will be keen in larger metropolitan areas
  • Some salaries are comparable to those earned by associate's degree holders (public address announcers earned $40,000 while radio and television announcers earned $41,000)*
  • Few options for distance-learning programs

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Common Courses and Requirements

Your curriculum mixes general education, electives and upper-division courses that emphasize theory, criticism, ethics and production techniques. Programs usually require roughly 120 credits in coursework and an internship. Classes you may take include:

  • Audio production
  • News broadcasting
  • Media law

Online Course Info

Like those at the associate's level, online bachelor's programs are rare. While a few programs may be available, it may be easier to find campus-based programs that offer some classes online.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

While completing an internship is typically required to graduate, you can enhance your professional experience by acquiring multiple internships throughout your college career. Seeking multiple internships with several news agencies can greatly diversify your professional experience as well as your professional contacts.

Your campus may have facilities equipped with the latest broadcasting technology. Taking advantage of these facilities can enhance your equipment operation capabilities. Additionally, working on several projects or producing shows using your college's facilities can help you build a portfolio and establish important skills.

Degree Alternatives

Though some broadcasting communications positions pay relatively competitive salaries at the baccalaureate level, job prospects continue to dwindle in response to technological advances. You may want to consider pursuing a degree that makes a career in public relations accessible; applicable majors include mass communications and public relations. You can expect to study media production and communication methods and technology. Master's degrees may be required for upper-level positions.

The BLS projected faster-than-average job growth (21%) for public relations managers and specialists during the 2010-2020 decade. As of May 2011, public relations specialists earned mean salaries of about $60,000, and public relations and fundraising managers earned averages of nearly $106,000, according to the BLS.

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