What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming an Audio Video Technician?

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Audio video technicians play an integral role in the setup and maintenance of projects that require the operation of:

  • sound
  • video
  • lighting

These are used to enhance events, meetings, and the like. Below, we discuss how to choose the right audio video degree program.  We provide details on information such as:

  • advancement
  • job outlook
  • salary

Becoming an audio video technician is easy if you know what degree path to take.

How Do I Become an Audio Video Technician?

Audio video technician degree requirements vary. Most positions require some sort of postsecondary education in the form of:

  • a certificate
  • associate’s degree
  • bachelor’s degree

High-school students should take courses in:

  • computer science
  • electronics
  • mathematics
  • physics

Both community colleges and baccalaureate institutions offer programs for the prospective audio video technician major. These programs include anything from short-term certificates or diplomas that can be completed in a few months to a bachelor’s degree that may take several years.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Audio Video Technician?

Audio video technician degree requirements vary by program type and institution. For diploma and certificate programs, students can expect a completion time of three to 12 months. The right audio video technician school will ensure that their program balances theory and practice. Most programs integrate hands-on learning throughout, with immersive learning experiences near the end in the form of an internship or supervised work experience. This ensures that students gain real-world skills, which go far beyond a functional understanding of how to use the equipment.

What Degree Do You Need to Be an Audio Video Technician?

There are multiple degree pathways to a career as an audio video technician. Moreover, each audio video technician school will have distinct names for its program. Common bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Animation – An animation degree focuses on creativity and technical skills. From an audio video technician standpoint, the most helpful classes are in:
    • editing
    • postproduction
    • video and audio production
    • the production pipeline

Students should exit any program with skills in the latest industry software, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk Maya, and the like. Common classes include:

    • 2D and 3D animation
    • concept and development
    • film production
    • post-production
  • Audio Video Production – The best audio video technician college major is a bachelor’s degree in audio and video production. This program is specifically for those on their way to becoming an audio video technician. The program focuses on career skills needed to succeed on the job, such as:
    • audiovisual equipment operation
    • digital sound editing
    • post-production
    • pre-production
    • synthesizing music
    • troubleshooting

In addition to technical skills, students learn how to communicate with internal and external stakeholders in an effective manner. Also, students learn customer service techniques on how to meet clients’ needs. Some programs also teach:

    • digital design
    • scriptwriting
    • storyboarding

These classes are helpful for those creating videos that require stories and narratives.

  • Multimedia Design – Another audio video technician college major is multimedia design. A multimedia bachelor’s degree teaches students to design and create digital content using A/V equipment and cutting-edge software. Students take classes such as:
    • business applications
    • computer applications
    • visual design
    • web interface design
  • Visual Effects – A visual effects degree aims to provide students with a mastery of digital technology, including:
    • 3D modeling
    • animation
    • editing
    • production
    • storyboarding

This degree is a pathway to a career as an audio video technician, and it includes courses such as:

    • animation techniques
    • introduction to rigging
    • video editing

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Best Audio Video Technician Major to Declare in College

The best audio video technician major is audio video technology. It is specifically designed to prepare graduates for a career in audio and video technology. The requirements to major in this bachelor’s degree program are a high-school diploma and other institutional requirements set by the institution, such as GPA and test scores. Most of these programs do not require any pre-requisite courses, but it is beneficial to have experience working with equipment.

You should look for programs that offer real-world learning experiences through technology labs and internships where you can learn under the supervision of an A/V technician. These experiences should be scattered throughout the program, with the most immersive experience occurring during the last term. Programs are available in all formats, such as:

  • online
  • in-person
  • hybrid (mixture of in-person and online)

Common audio video technician degree requirements at the top programs include:

  • audio production
  • lighting and sound
  • operating systems
  • sound techniques

How Much Money Can an Audio Video Technician Earn?

Audio and video technicians earn a mean annual wage of $53,390, according to data provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS). This annual wage works out to about $25.67 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. The lowest 10% earn $27,840 ($13.39 per hour) compared to the highest 10% that earn $87,050 ($41.85 per hour).

Wages are fairly consistent across the industries in which audio video technicians work, with the exception of the motion picture and video industries. These pay considerably more (see table below). The top industries include:

  • Rental and leasing services – $50,820
  • Motion picture and video industries – $66,800
  • Colleges and universities – $49,330
  • Radio and TV broadcasting – $52,940
  • Promoters of performing arts, sports, and other events – $49,730

The data does not include self-employment averages, which are not tracked by the BLS.

The average salary of $53,390 for audio video technicians is higher than the $41,950 national average of all occupations tracked by the BLS. This makes the investment in education a worthwhile endeavor. The increased wages earned by audio video technicians compared to the average national wage equates to approximately $1,000 more per month.

As with other occupations, audio video technician wages vary by region. The top-paying states include:

  • Washington – $72,500
  • California – $67,500
  • District of Columbia – $66,990
  • New York – $61,980
  • Massachusetts – $60,180

Top-paying metropolitan areas include:

  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue: $80,510
  • Charleston-North Charleston: $77,990
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim: $73,960
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward: $66,140
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: $63,600

Top-paying non-metropolitan areas include:

  • Massachusetts non-metro: $57,420
  • Upper peninsula of Michigan non-metro: $51,180
  • Hawaii-Kauai non-metro: $50,140
  • Southern Vermont non-metro: $47,040
  • Southwest Main non-metro: $46,370

The significantly higher metropolitan wages are connected with a higher cost of living in urban areas, compared to the lower cost of living in more rural settings. Moreover, rural positions are more likely to have lower educational requirements such as postsecondary certificates or an associate degree, compared to a bachelor’s degree requirement that is common for positions in metro areas.

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Do Audio Video Technicians Need to be Certified or Licensed?

Audio video technicians do not need to be certified to gain employment, but some professionals choose to seek certification to increase employability and continue learning the trade. The certifications are offered by the Society of Broadcast Engineers, which is the only organization dedicated to the advancement of all broadcast engineers.

There are over 5,000 members with 114 chapters that focus on:

  • career advancement
  • networking opportunities
  • continued education and training

The SBE offers the Certified Audio Engineer (CEA) and Certified Video Engineer (CVE) certifications. Eligibility requirements for the certifications include five years of relevant experience in A/V engineering or a related field. Those without five years of experience can supplement their experience through one of the following:

  • Professional engineer’s license (counts as four years)
  • Bachelor’s degree (counts as four years)
  • Associate degree (counts as two years)
  • Military or other accredited education can substitute, on a year-for-year basis, for up to four years

In addition to the required experience, individuals must sit for a 50-question, multiple-choice exam lasting three hours that covers content in:

  • basic electronics
  • operating procedures
  • safety
  • theory

The passing score for each certification exam is 70%. Certification is valid for five years, and the SBE will notify the individual’s employer and any other party requested. Test-takers who do not pass may sign up for subsequent test dates for a $30 fee.

What Kind of Ongoing Training do Audio Video Technicians Need?

There is no industry standard for ongoing training in the industry, unless an A/V technician decides to re-certify after their five-year CEA or CVE certification expires. In other instances, individual organizations and industries may require a specific number of credits or hours of ongoing professional development and training. Nearly all audio and video technicians participate in some sort of training due to the rapid advancements and changes in audio and video technology.

What Is the Job Outlook for an Audio Video Technician Career?

The median job outlook for all occupations tracked by the BLS is eight percent during the 10-year period of 2020-2030. During the same period, the occupational growth for broadcast, sound, and video technicians is 21 percent. This is nearly three times the growth rate for all other fields. Some of the growth is related to the economic recovery that results as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and economic activity increases. In addition, many organizations have realized that video meetings save time and money, which means the demand for audio and video technicians will increase. These industries include:

  • private businesses
  • healthcare
  • education, and more

The highest number of audio and video technician jobs are located in dense, urban populations. The top three are:

  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago

The regions with the highest concentration of audio and video technician jobs include:

  • Orlando
  • Las Vegas
  • Charlottesville

While the highest employment levels are in densely populated metro areas, there are still plenty of opportunities in non-metropolitan areas where wages are often lower but the cost of living is less, as well. The top three non-metro areas include:

  • Southwest Missouri
  • Southwest New York
  • Hawaii non-metro
  • Northeast Mississippi

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What Is the Typical Day Like for an Audio Video Technician?

The typical day for an audio video technician can be characterized as active. Daily activities include tasks such as:

  • installing and adjusting equipment
  • filming live events
  • working with stakeholders to set up meetings and other gatherings

In addition, daily activities may include:

  • sound and video editing
  • converting media into distinct formats
  • monitoring incoming and outgoing sound and video

Tasks and functions that are performed on a weekly and monthly basis include:

  • resolving and troubleshooting any existing media systems issues
  • performing routine maintenance on equipment
  • meeting with other employees and supervisors

The job is a very hands-on one, and it is integral to the success of the organization. Because this is a specific skillset, A/V techs are relied upon and play an important role for any workplace that uses media. While tasks are always similar, the work has a high level of variation, as each project and event is unique. Audio video technicians typically work consistent schedules that include set times and 40 hours per week. Schedules may vary for those who work in the entertainment industry, where work takes place during non-traditional hours such as evenings and weekends.

In conclusion, if you’re interested in an audio video technician college major, you will find an industry set to experience excellent growth. You will complete much career-focused, hands-on coursework.

If you’re unsure of a specific degree path, becoming an audio video technician can be accomplished with multiple degree pathways, although majors such as audio and video production provide the exact training and education needed. Aspiring A/V technicians should pursue a bachelor’s degree with an internship or fieldwork that can provide a competitive advantage when looking for employment opportunities.

Not all audio video technician jobs require a bachelor’s degree, but the industry is moving towards a time  when the majority of successful applicants will have an undergraduate degree. High-school students should seek out opportunities at school and in their communities to learn more about the career and take related coursework. After you graduate, obtaining an industry certification combined with ongoing professional development can help with career growth and advancement.

BDP Staff
January 2022

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