Pros and Cons of Becoming a TV Broadcaster
TV broadcasters, including anchors, reporters and announcers, deliver the news from the main anchor desk or through live reports. The path to becoming a TV broadcaster is competitive and stressful, so it is important to understand what to expect along the way.
|Pros of a TV Broadcaster Career|
|Relatively high pay (mean annual wage about $84,000 for broadcast news analysts)*|
|Plentiful education options (at least 1,500 U.S. schools with relevant degree programs)*|
|Can advance by moving to a larger market*|
|Can reach a broad audience*|
|Cons of a TV Broadcaster Career|
|Stressful, deadline-driven work environment*|
|Long hours and erratic schedules to cover breaking news or events*|
|Advancement usually requires relocation (moving three to five times before landing the position you want)**|
|Stiff job competition (fewer than 6,000 anchor positions nationwide in 2012)*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Radio Television Digital News Association
Job Description and Duties
Although a student might be drawn to this career because he or she loves news and wants to become a local celebrity, it takes years of experience and quite a bit of broadcasting know-how to earn a coveted anchor position, especially in the top metropolitan markets. Some TV broadcasters specialize in a particular segment of the newscast such as sports or weather, while others cover what's going on around the area, the country or the world. TV broadcasters don't just read a teleprompter or script, though; they conduct interviews, research and write stories, edit the content and prepare coverage for reports and news packages.
TV broadcasters introduce and comment on news segments to help viewers at home understand how events may affect their lives. Special events and breaking news coverage may disrupt a TV broadcaster's work schedule, requiring him or her to stay at the station all night, come in early or head out with a news crew on a moment's notice. This unpredictability can make the job hectic and therefore, requires quick thinking and a calm demeanor.
Career Prospects and Salary Information
The broadcasting industry is quite competitive, since many people are drawn to the glamorous image of the famous newscaster covering important current events. The reality is that overall employment in broadcast media was projected to decline 13% from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS. Prospective TV broadcasters should expect intense competition for jobs in the coming years: employment for broadcast news analysts is estimated to decline 2%, while reporter and correspondent jobs are expected to decline by 14% in the same decade. Meanwhile, no growth is projected for radio and television announcers.
May 2014 salary figures from the BLS show that there is a dramatic variation in TV broadcaster salaries. Most broadcast news analysts earned between $28,210 and $182,470 per year, with the average annual salary at $84,380. For reporters, the average wage was $45,800, with the majority of employees taking home between $21,090 and $81,940. Most announcer salaries ranged between $17,610 and $80,000, and the average salary was reported at $44,030 per year.
For TV broadcasters, experience and geographic location can be a huge factor in determining how much they are paid, with those working for big stations in the top markets commanding the highest salaries. A news anchor in one of the top 25 markets might earn over $165,000, but there are over 200 markets. If you land an anchor position in a smaller market, you might earn $35,000 a year. In 2011, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) released an earnings survey that showed starting salaries of broadcast employees with no full-time experience. On average, these reporters had an average salary of $23,000; new anchors averaged $20,000 in their first year if they had no previous full-time experience.
What Are the Requirements?
TV broadcasters are journalists who are comfortable on camera and in the field, so it is essential to start your education with a bachelor's degree in journalism, communications, media or a similar discipline. You'll need to take classes that enhance your public speaking, since TV broadcasters need to enunciate and use a strong, yet pleasant voice. To help you learn to research, write and deliver accurate news stories, load up on English, journalism and other writing-intensive courses. Anchors usually start out working as reporters, production assistants or associate producers, so classes in audio and video production will help you understand what it takes for a story idea to become a multimedia piece ready for a news broadcast.
Overwhelmingly, TV broadcasters need industry experience to advance from a position as a general assignment or field reporter to a full-fledged studio anchor, especially if they want to work in one of the top-rated markets. The good news is that students can start gaining this experience while still in college by working for school newspapers, radio and television stations or other media co-curricular activities. Part-time and summer jobs with local media and internships with professional media outlets can give you the real world experience and networking opportunities to start your career path in broadcasting.
What Do Employers Want?
With the rise of multimedia content platforms and digital communication technologies, employers are looking for prospective TV broadcasters who are the full package (and have the resume and demo reel to prove it). In addition to stellar written and oral communications skills, TV broadcasters have to show that they are tech-savvy and can generate and update content for the station website, social media and other interactive platforms. Since TV broadcasters help create the public image of a news station, it is important for them to project professionalism but still appear relatable to viewing audiences. They also need a nose for news, meaning that they seek out story ideas, pursue leads and stay updated on current events by being avid consumers of news themselves. Below are some examples of job postings that were available in March 2012:
- A cable news outlet in Buffalo advertised for an anchor who could also report from the field, write and edit news stories. The employer emphasized familiarity with the local area, the ability to ad-lib and a willingness to mentor less-experienced newsroom staff.
- A St. Louis news station advertised for a multimedia journalist who used social media to get a pulse on viewer interests and gather story ideas. In addition to three to five years of reporting and anchoring experience, applicants needed video production skills.
- A Georgia news affiliate looked for a sports anchor to cover local, college and professional sports stories. This multimedia journalist position required updating Web content and preference was shown to candidates with computer editing skills.
How to Gain an Edge in the Field
In a job market flooded with people looking to be the next star news anchor, the experience and skills you bring to a job interview are extremely important in helping you stand out from other applicants. News stations in large cities or outlets with a large share of the market prefer to hire candidates with extensive anchoring and reporting experience, so think smaller in looking for your first entry-level position. Being enthusiastic, flexible and willing to take jobs in production, news writing and reporting can provide the training ground to make you well-versed in all aspects of the news process; this also benefits future employers, since you may require less training than other applicants.
Create Demo Reel
Internships and work experience also allow you to put together a strong demo reel in which you can showcase all of your abilities. Having the technical skills to shoot video, edit and create graphics in addition to writing effectively and performing well on camera makes you a desirable candidate, and the demo reel (along with a strong resume) lets you demonstrate your talents. Industry consolidation and a shift to a greater emphasis on Internet and interactive media means candidates who are comfortable with social media and website content management will have an advantage over those who lack such skills.