Broadcast engineers will find themselves working on all technical aspects of AM and FM radio broadcasting technology. Their duties range from installation, setup and operation to controlling, maintenance and repair of electrical equipment for radio and television broadcasts.
According to the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE), many in this line of work are given various titles according to the path they follow and on their knowledge, specialty, training, qualifications, and work experience or education background. Also the kind of job assignment and equipment they are in charge of says what type of technician a person is, what type of industry he/she will likely work for and, what type of duties this individual will be assigned.
Broadcast engineers are hands-on technicians that offer technical assistance to ensure broadcasting gear works correctly and remains operational. They tend to be well-versed in video and audio equipment as well as have an understanding in electronics and electrical theory as well as communication and media practices.
Their status and competence also determines the type of everyday tasks they perform and what type of environment they work in. Some are self-employed and work for clients, while others work at broadcast stations, radio, television or mobile facilities.
There are also field broadcast engineers who work outside the studio or facility who oversee broadcasting equipment that reside in other areas. For example, some are assigned jobs that require them to go off site to connect wires, cables, satellites and transmitters or take audio and video equipment back to a lab. Once there, they will troubleshoot, configure, optimize, test and monitor analog and digital broadcast transmission signals on the systems’ gear in order to adjust or fix them as needed.
In addition, there are also those broadcast engineers that look after technical aspects of broadcast radio transmissions checking for transmitted and received signals to make sure they do not have a problem with noise interference. They even inspect and measure the relative strengths and weaknesses of amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM) of radio waves – that come from broadcast towers – to make sure they are in their approximate frequency range (of the dedicated electromagnetic spectrum).
At a telecommunications/broadcasting site, broadcast engineers also work on RF amplifiers and wireless telecommunications equipment and broadcasting devices in addition to working on transmitter/receiver systems preventing RF system failures.
Those interested in a broadcast engineer career must have:
- a working knowledge of latest technology and electronic equipment in the radio and television industry
- comprehension of radio frequency waves
- have worked with transmitter/receiver equipment and are familiar with broadcast automation systems
- an understanding of wired and wireless engineering practices
In essence, many broadcast engineers will be in charge of audio and video broadcasting equipment. They will have flexible schedules and occasionally work overtime – requiring them to handle technical and operational emergencies.
As indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS), there is a high expected job-growth for broadcast engineers in the years to come. Highly trained and skilled applicants with either a college degree in broadcast technology or vocational certification are sure to find work.
Those who do not have these credentials may have to prove their knowledge and skill in the field to be employed.
To become a high-ranking engineer in this field and receive more pay and have more job opportunities, there is the possibility to become a SBE-certified broadcast engineer. Basically, those with an education and with on-the-job training will be more competitive.
At present, there are many broadcast engineer entry-level positions available – places are always looking to hire someone to take care of new audio and video equipment or to maintain the old ones’ capabilities.