Whether you are in the forefront - as an announcer, reporter or disc jockey - or in the background - as a producer, editor or technician - broadcasting offers a variety of careers that entertain, inform and educate through television or radio.
Talent and hard work drive professional success in broadcasting. An impressive portfolio of work can unlock many job opportunities.
"You can have a minimum amount of talent and if you work hard you can get a full-time job," says Robert Mathers, admissions director for the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland in Baltimore. "The key is to advance and the way to advance is to really apply yourself."
One way to advance is through education - starting with training in the fundamentals and continuing with advanced skills throughout a career.
A degree and the skills set that come with it have become increasingly important in the labor market. Indeed, broadcast employers are increasingly less likely to provide on-the-job training, instead seeking prospects that can perform immediately, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Students have two options for training in basic broadcasting skills: four-year colleges or trade schools with terms running two years or less.
At the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland, students select one of three majors: Radio/TV News/Sports talent, Radio DJ, or television production, Mathers says. Students must pass 600 hours of instruction to graduate. This takes between nine months and two years, depending on whether a student attends full-time or part-time, Mathers says.
In these 600 hours, students take classes and perform studio work in their major and the following subjects: announcing, commercials, disc jockey techniques, general broadcasting, general news and issues, radio/TV news/sports, radio DJ, radio production and TV production. Students also receive instruction on broadcast promotions, job seeking, public speaking and sales. Instructors work with students one-on-one to improve studio techniques, vocal delivery, or aspects of writing. In addition, each student receives a significant project to perform monthly in his or her major, Mathers says.
Frederic Leigh, associate director of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University in Tempe, says coursework at the school starts with introductory journalism courses. Broadcast-specific classes include basic and advanced writing for radio and TV, production techniques, broadcast news reporting, broadcast programming (theory, ethics, audience psychographics), videography, broadcast sales and promotion, advanced TV production, broadcast station management and television newscast production.
A bachelor's degree is enough for a graduate to start in the field, while master's degrees are attractive to professionals with some experience or graduates from other fields that wish to break into broadcasting, Leigh says. Coursework at ASU includes more advanced study of writing and production, media research and subjects such as cable television and other emerging electronic media. Completion of a research project is also required.
The Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg, Fla., is a school for journalists offering a whole series of radio and TV seminars. Subjects include TV Power Reporting, Producing Newscasts: The Complete Producer and Powerful TV Photojournalism.
After graduation and a few years' experience, employees in the broadcasting industry can seek out advanced training from trade organizations such as The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation in Washington, D.C. It offers fellowships and seminars such as the Broadcast Leadership Training Program, designed to enhance the overall broadcasting community.