Broadcast engineers install, operate, maintain and repair the equipment used to make and broadcast radio and television programmes. They make sure that programmes are broadcast to the highest quality and on time.
You could be:
maintaining, testing and aligning the equipment used in radio broadcasting, such as control and switching systems and audio frequency equipment
responsible for the audio and video equipment used in television for studio recordings, network and outside broadcasts or webcasts
installing new equipment and facilities or networks
researching and developing new broadcasting techniques
analysing and fixing technical faults
maintaining the permanent cable and radio links which operate between studios and transmitters
responsible for transmitting stations and the equipment based in them, such as receivers and test equipment
advising on studio design, improving services and buying equipment
maintain records and technical documentation.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
The starting salary for broadcast engineers is around £23,000 a year, rising to around £40,000. With further experience this can rise to over £50,000 a year.
Many broadcasting engineers are based in major towns or cities, but if you are responsible for a transmitting station you may be based in a rural area.
You could be working in an office, studio, control room or on an outside broadcast.
Working hours can be long and irregular. Shift work covering evenings, weekends and nights is common. The media business is 24/7.
Outside broadcast work can involve working in isolated locations and in poor weather conditions, but the work can be extremely varied and interesting.
You may have to work abroad in dangerous situations, including conflict zones.
You normally start as a broadcast engineer trainee with a broadcasting company.
For this, you usually need a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) or degree in a relevant subject such as electrical engineering, electronic engineering, computing, physics, information technology or broadcast technology.
For entry to an HNC or HND course you normally need 1-2 Highers plus some subjects at National 5. For a degree course you need 4-5 Highers normally including Maths and Physics or a technological subject.
The BBC offers a technology apprenticeship which involves completing a BEng Honours in Broadcast Engineering and undergoing work placements across the BBC. You would need to be prepared to move around the UK. Entry requirements are 112 UCAS points, preferably including Maths and science or technological subjects, plus National 5 English and Maths.
They also run a technology traineeship for graduates that combines study for an MSc Broadcast and Communications Engineering with work placements (these may not be in Scotland). Competition for places is fierce. See the BBC website for entry requirements and more details.
You may be able to qualify by other training routes.
You might start work as a runner for a broadcasting company and then apply for in-house engineering training.
You usually need to have relevant work experience for entry. This could be unpaid work in a student film production, hospital radio or a work placement in broadcasting.
Most engineers in this field work for the BBC, ITV, STV, Sky or for independent radio or television companies and satellite, digital and cable broadcasters. Competition for jobs in broadcasting engineering is intense.
a strong interest in the media and broadcast technology
good technical knowledge of broadcast systems and equipment
good fault finding and problem solving skills
excellent IT skills
good communication skills
an understanding of health and safety and relevant legislation.
You need to be able to:
understand system design and schematic diagrams
understand and use technical manuals
plan and organise programmes of work
work to timetables and meet tight deadlines, usually under pressure
work on your own and also as part of a team
use your initiative and think on your feet
be flexible and versatile – multi-skilling is important.
After gaining your HNC, HND or degree and some further training with an employer, you can register with the Engineering Council as a professional engineer - either as Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).
For IEng you need to have either a recognised Bachelor’s degree or a recognised HNC or HND plus further study to Bachelor’s degree level.
For CEng you need to have a recognised Bachelor’s degree with Honours plus a recognised Masters degree (or equivalent), or a recognised integrated Master of Engineering (MEng) degree.
If you do not have any of the above qualifications, you may still be able to achieve IEng or CEng by other approved routes. You can check these alternative routes with the Engineering Council or with the appropriate professional engineering institution.
You will need to keep up to date with changes in technology and the introduction of new equipment.
Broadcast engineers who first qualify as IEng can progress to CEng after further training and experience. This can open up a wider range of opportunities.
You would usually start as a junior engineer assistant and progress, as an engineer, through work in transmission or communications.
You may need to move around the country to gain promotion.
There may be opportunities to become self-employed and work freelance.
Some engineers may move into teaching in colleges or universities.
There may be opportunities to work abroad.
The Engineering Council sets and maintains the standards of the engineering profession in the UK. It does so through 35 professional engineering institutions which are Licensed Members of the Engineering Council.