What is a Broadcast Technology Degree?

Degree programs in broadcast technology prepare students to work as sound engineering technicians, also known as broadcast engineers. These are the professionals who install, set up, test, operate, and repair electronic equipment used to record and transmit live and taped radio and television programs and to produce audio and video streaming broadcasts for the Internet.

Topics covered in a broadcast technology curriculum include standard and high definition television, digital and analog audio and video standards, cameras and special effect generators, microphones and mixing consoles, radio frequency transmitters for AM and FM radio and television, system and component troubleshooting, use and application of broadcast instrumentation, and computer hardware and networking.

Program Options

Certificate in Broadcast Technology – One Year Duration
Certificate programs teach only subjects in the major. They train students in the fundamentals of broadcast technology.

Associate Degree in Broadcast Technology – Two Year Duration
A broadcast technology associate program combines courses in the major with some liberal arts classes in subjects such as English literature and composition and the social sciences.

Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Technology – Three to Four Year Duration
At the bachelor’s level, the broadcast technology curriculum is a comprehensive hybrid of courses in the major and the liberal arts, as well as some core classes in broadcast journalism and the history of broadcasting. Because of the longer duration of a bachelor’s program, students have greater opportunities to do hands-on project work.

Despite the distinctions described above, broadcast technology courses like the following are at the heart of all of these programs. Hands-on lab work is a large component of the coursework.

  • Introduction to Networking – network terminology, devices, standards, protocols, and their relation to the Open System Interconnection (OSI) model; hubs, bridges, switches, basic cabling, and Internet Protocol or IP (the method by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet)
  • Fundamentals of Computer Hardware and Operating Systems – hardware and software essentials of computer systems; hands-on installation and configuration of popular operating systems, diagnosis and troubleshooting of hardware and software problems; applications, backup, and security
  • Professional Communications and Presentation Skills – industry technical documents and reports, lab experience working independently and in teams
  • The World of Broadcasting – overview of the broadcast industry, technology in the field, organizational structure of a broadcasting operation, broadcast site visit, lab experience with audio and video equipment used in the industry
  • Troubleshooting Electrical Circuits – analyzing electrical concepts, DC and AC conditions, related troubleshooting, circuit laws, testing equipment and components, computer simulated circuits and hands-on labs
  • Broadcast Communications Systems – routing, configuration, local area networking, broadcast media distribution and the Internet; hands-on set-up, configuration, simulation, and evaluation of network based services such as Ethernet, streaming audio and video, and broadcast instrumentation
  • Digital Logic Troubleshooting – operating and troubleshooting digital logic circuits, microprocessor architecture and I/O (input/output) capabilities, analyzing schematics
  • Structured Cabling – transmission characteristics of optical fiber and copper transmission media used in voice, data, and video transmission; building cabling standards, installing and managing cabling; health standards, hands-on installation of a structured cable system
  • Troubleshooting Electronic Components and Circuits – computer-simulated and hands-on troubleshooting of circuit operations problems
  • Business Dynamics – technology in business, developing business cases, customer service, ethics
  • Broadcast Radio Frequency (RF) Fundamentals – lab experiences with RF instrumentation, RF building block circuits, antennas, transmission lines, FM transmitters, and stereo generation
  • Broadcast Systems Instrumentation – testing and measurement principles, equipment use and procedures lab
  • Project Preparation – principles of project management, defining project scope, and project planning and execution
  • Acoustic and Audio Systems – audio signal processing, broadcast camera audio set-up, microphone and loudspeaker transducer theory, acoustic measurements, digital recording, system and component troubleshooting
  • Video Standards and Systems – analog and digital video standards, video compression standards, techniques specific to the television environment
  • Radio Frequency Transmission Systems – lab experience with broadcast transmitter site layout; television and radio transmitters; microwave technology in television, radio, and satellite systems; related hardware; digital modulation techniques; power systems and grounding for high-power transmitters
  • Capstone Project – students explore a broadcast technology problem or issue to demonstrate technical knowledge, skills, and development and execution strategies
  • Advanced Audio Systems – audio metering, audio consoles, studio systems interfacing, studio wiring and grounding, digital audio and digital audio system interconnection; lab experience in the design, fabrication, installation, configuration, and alignment of a studio broadcast audio system
  • Playout and Automation – maintenance of broadcast playout (equipment/processes that play source media and convert it into a form which may be put to air for external use), automation, and media management systems
  • Broadcast Video Equipment – lab experience with video formats, signal process path through a color camera system, video online and offline editing systems, switching and processing of video for special effects

Degrees Similar to Broadcast Technology

Computer Engineering
This degree field integrates electrical engineering and computer science to further advancement in digital technology, computer networking, and computer systems. Students of computer engineering study calculus, physics, computer architecture, digital-logic design, data structures, and programming languages.

Electrical Engineering
Students of electrical engineering learn how to use physics, electronics, and electromagnetism to design devices that are powered by or produce electricity. Most degree programs in the field start with foundational classes in calculus, physics, and chemistry.

Electronics Engineering Technology
Students of electronics engineering technology learn how to install, operate, maintain, and repair electrical and electronic equipment.

Film and Photographic Technology
Students of film and photographic technology study the equipment techniques, and processes used in the production of films and photographs.

Information Technology (IT)
IT refers to anything related to computing technology: the Internet, computer hardware, computer software, and computer networks. It is the design and use of computer networks for data processing and communication.

Management Information Systems
Students who major in management information systems learn how to build systems to retrieve and store information. They take courses in database architecture and management, multimedia systems, and human/computer interaction.

Sound Engineering
Sound engineers, also known as audio engineers, are part technician, part artist. They are the masters of clarity and quality behind recordings and live performances. They are crucial to many fields in the entertainment, broadcasting, and live event sectors. Degree programs in sound engineering teach students the fundamentals of sound design – recording, mixing, reproducing, and manipulating the equalization and electronic effects of sound.

Telecommunications Engineering
Telecommunications technology students learn how to design, build, and install telecommunications systems, from telephones to wireless networks. The typical curriculum covers data networking, programming, and digital signal processing.

Skills You’ll Learn

Broadcast technology is multidimensional. It therefore leaves its graduates with a considerable skillset:

  • Attention to detail – the work of a broadcast technician is meticulous work
  • Communication and collaboration – broadcast technicians need to be able to work closely with other professionals
  • Computer skills – the programming and editing tasks of a broadcast technician are computer-based tasks
  • Critical thinking, problem-solving, and troubleshooting – when equipment and broadcast signals malfunction, solutions need to be found
  • Manual dexterity – the work involves setting up equipment, connecting wires, and using controls to make adjustments
  • Multitasking – the work of is multifaceted
  • Self-discipline and flexibility – the work can demand long hours and willingness to push through unexpected technical challenges

What Can You Do with a Broadcast Technology Degree?

Employment options for broadcast technology grads include:

  • AM and FM Radio Stations
  • Television Stations
  • Audio Visual Services Companies
  • Broadcast Equipment Manufacturers and Retailers
  • Cable and Satellite Specialty Channels and Origination Centers
  • Educational Television and Audio-Visual Systems
  • Post-Production Facilities
  • Recording Studios
  • Telecommunications Providers

These are some of the different titles that broadcast technicians and engineers may hold, depending on their place of employment and their specific responsibilities:

  • Audio / Video Installation and Maintenance Technician
  • Broadcast Design Engineer
  • Broadcast Engineer
  • Broadcast Information Technology (IT) Engineer
  • Broadcast Integration Engineer
  • Broadcast IT Support Technologist
  • Broadcast IT Systems Engineer
  • Broadcast Maintenance Engineer
  • Broadcast Network Engineer
  • Broadcast Systems Engineer
  • Broadcast Technician
  • Broadcast Technologist
  • MCR (Master Control Room) Technician
  • Outside Broadcast Engineer
  • Radio Broadcast Technologist
  • Remote Broadcast Engineer
  • TV Studio Broadcast Engineer
  • Video Broadcast Engineer


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