Where Can A Career In Television Take You?
TV is seen as a very glamorous industry to work in, which it can be - but it also requires bags of talent and determination to turn it into a fruitful career.
Behind every TV programme is a huge team of people, from researchers to wardrobe assistants to lighting technicians and camera operatives. Keep your eye on the credits of the next TV programme that you watch to get an idea of just how many people are involved.
These teams require a range of different talents and skillsets, which are all vital for a successful production.
In television experience is everything, which means that many people will have to work up from the bottom. Brace yourself for being a runner and making tea before working your way up into producing and editing.
If you’re seeking more of a creative or presenting role, you’ll need to have a portfolio of work that demonstrates what you are capable of. A degree can give you the space to build this and potentially allow you to start slightly higher up in the industry.
Many roles in TV work on a freelance basis, which means that the income is not very stable. However, for large projects it can be very well paid and this helps to cover the gaps in work that you may have in between projects.
The work can be demanding and involve very long hours in order to meet deadlines, but the buzz that comes from a large, creative project coming together and potentially being shown on TV or streaming services makes it worth all of the hard work.
Skills & interests required
The most-coveted skill for those working in television is problem-solving. Unexpected issues arise all the time in television during planning, production and even post-production. Last minute solutions are often required to ensure that a project still goes ahead and finishes on time.
Depending on what area of television you work in you will need slightly different skills. Producers, for example, will need a creative eye whilst also being savvy with money to make sure that projects remain in budget.
Communication skills are key for working in television. If you’re a presenter this may be your on-screen delivery, or as a producer you’ll be the intermediary between all the different groups involved in a project. Even as a technician you will need to be vocal about any issues that you may be encounter to other team members. Good communication skills across all teams are crucial to a successful production.
Also, networking will be instrumental to your success in television. Much of your work will come from recommendations from others, so it’s important to be able to make a lasting and good impression on those who you work with.
Other skills that may be useful working in television include:
Typical Career Progression Routes for Graduates in Television
Television is a wide and varied industry, so there really is no set career progression. You could begin to work on larger and higher budget productions, but many who work in this industry choose to pursue their passions, which may mean more sideways steps.
The unpredictable nature of television also means that typically there is no set progression path and a lot of the work is done contractually.
The working day in television can be quite long, especially during filming as deadlines need to be met. There also could be some challenging working conditions – the crew that filmed Planet Earth, for example, had to deal with quite a few difficult environments, including deserts, jungles and oceans!
Tips for getting into the field
Some of the largest broadcasters, such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, offer apprenticeships and trainee schemes in broadcasting that can be an excellent first step into the field.
The earning potentials within television can vary widely, but here are some average salaries for some typical roles in the field:
Trainee producers can earn between £17,000-£23,000.
Junior television production coordinators start on around £140 a day. As the work is usually contract based, salaried jobs can be difficult to source.
Senior TV editors can earn in excess of £50,000.
Qualification requirements & subjects to study
There are no set qualifications for television. If you want to go into production then a relevant degree could be useful, but your experience will speak louder than your qualifications.
However, many subjects such as Media, Film, or Design will give you a platform to develop your creative style and provide foundational knowledge that may help you later on in your career. Look for courses that you can take after graduation to get the skills you need if you degree isn’t directly related.