Television Production Manager Careers: Job Description & Salary

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a television production manager? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a television production manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Television Production Manager Career

Television production managers (also called producers) are typically in charge of the planning and execution of TV shows and broadcasts from start to finish. Is being a television production manager right for you? Consider the following pros and cons to find out.

Pros of a Television Production Manager Career
High levels of job satisfaction for individuals who are project-oriented**
Salaries are relatively high (the median annual salary for directors and producers was about $69,100 as of May 2014), and a handful of highly successful producers may earn far more than this*
The job is fast-paced, and tasks are varied**
You'll work with a broad spectrum of people (actors, directors, crew members, etc.)*

Cons of a Television Production Manager Career
Competition for jobs is intense, and producers may face extended periods of unemployment between projects*
Producers face long hours and erratic schedules, including holiday, evening and weekend work*
Stringent production deadlines can be very stressful*
You may need to move in order to find a job (over a third of producers and directors worked in either New York or California as of May 2014)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Princeton Review.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Television production managers have different duties depending on the size of the production they're working on. For smaller productions, a production manager may be responsible for securing funding and choosing a director, cast and crew. This producer also would oversee administrative aspects of the actual filming or broadcast, and he or she would be ultimately responsible for ensuring that the project was completed on time and within budget. On larger television productions, there may be an executive or head producer who's in charge of the overall operation, as well as a few assistant producers who are assigned to duties in specific areas (makeup and costume, sound and lighting, etc.).

Television production managers often work for broadcast television stations or networks, producing newscasts, situation comedies, dramas and talk shows. They may also work for cable networks or as freelancers, creating show pilots or other independent projects. Occasionally, corporations or organizations, such as hospitals, drug stores or financial institutions, will hire television production managers to oversee closed-circuit television programs, national advertising or infomercials.

Job Prospects and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates that the number of jobs for producers and directors will increase by about 3% between 2012 and 2022. This is much lower than the projected growth rate for all occupations, which is 11%. The BLS indicated that having excellent skills was critical to catching good work.

The BLS reported that the median annual wage for all producers and directors was $69,100 as of May 2014; however, there is quite a bit of variability in the pay rates for this profession. The highest-paid 10% of producers and directors earned over $109,640 annually, while the lowest-paid 10% earned less than $32,000 per year.

Education and Training Requirements

Most employers seek candidates who hold a bachelor's degree for TV producer positions. The BLS reports that common majors for producers and directors include communication, writing and acting. Some aspiring producers even earn degrees in business or nonprofit management. In addition to education, another common requirement for television production manager jobs is experience. According to the BLS, many producers and directors spend at least a few years working as writers, film editors or actors before moving into management roles. You'll most likely need the following skills to work as a television production manager as well:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Management and leadership

Job Postings from Real Employers

When searching for ideal candidates for television production manager positions, employers tend to look for relevant experience. They also seek creativity, communication skills and knowledge of technology. Below are some examples of job postings from real employers from March 2012:

  • A drugstore chain in Illinois sought a media production manager to handle all aspects of national television and radio commercials while adhering to a strict budget and company guidelines. Applicants needed a bachelor's degree and at least 3 years of television production experience, with at least 1 year of experience managing or coordinating production. Night and weekend work and some travel were required.
  • A major television network in New York was looking to hire an executive producer to oversee the creation and development of new shows and to oversee current programming. A bachelor's degree was required, along with 5-7 years of production experience, strong communication skills and clear editorial direction.
  • A Texas television network required an executive producer to manage all aspects of its news operation. The job required good English and Spanish writing abilities, knowledge of basic video editing and a high level of creativity and motivation. A bachelor's degree and 3 years of newsroom experience were also required.
  • A broadcast station in Iowa needed an executive news producer to direct a team of producers and bring creativity to evening newscasts. The ideal candidate would manage news teams and make sure all online outlets were updated appropriately. Prior production experience was required, preferably as an executive producer.

How to Stand Out

Although a bachelor's degree is required for many positions, having one may help you stand out for certain positions where it is optional. In addition, the BLS notes that producers with strong business knowledge and skills will most likely have better job prospects, so taking some business courses may help you stand out. Although related work experience is required to move up to television producer roles, you can distinguish yourself from the competition by tackling and successfully completing the most challenging tasks available to you while you're gaining that work experience. Since TV production requires the ability to work effectively under stress, potential employers prefer candidates who have already demonstrated this quality on the job. College internships can also give you a big advantage in the job market, since they offer a chance to learn the ropes and prove your mettle.

Alternative Career Paths


If you like many aspects of television production work, but you'd prefer to focus exclusively on the creative side of things, directing may be a better role for you. Directors spend less time dealing with mundane administrative tasks and more time implementing their creative vision for the TV production at hand. For example, they may supervise set construction, coach performers during rehearsals and oversee the editing process.

Camera Operator

If you'd like to work in the television industry, but you'd prefer that the spotlight be on someone else, you might consider a career as a camera operator. Instead of running the whole show, you'll just be in charge of setting up and operating studio cameras for in-house work and mobile cameras for remote broadcasts. However, you should be aware that you'll still need to earn a bachelor's degree, since this position is highly technical, and your hours will probably be irregular, just like those of a production manager. In addition, the BLS reported that video, TV and motion picture camera operators earned a median annual salary of approximately $40,000 as of May 2011, and job growth for this position is expected to be minimal.

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