Guide on how to get into TV

TV is hard industry to break in to. Millions of people grow up watching TV and it plays a big part in the lives of many from informing them to entertaining them. Working in the Television industry is seen as glamorous work and is very much in demand because of this.

The landscape of TV has seen many technological advances in recent years from the invention of Satellite to the Digital switchover currently taking place in the UK. This has seen an explosion of channels and choice on our TV screens which has meant more companies starting up and more jobs becoming available. If this wasn’t enough we are now at the beginning of an Internet TV revolution with more and more programmes being aired on the Internet.

The first thing you need to decide when you want to start a career in TV is what area of the Television industry you want to get in to. One of the most sought after positions in TV is the presenter position. The presenters are the people we see coming through our TV screens but the truth is that there are many people working behind the scenes to make sure the presenter looks good and actually has a show to present.

If you want to go in to presenting there are two routes one is to enrol on a course on Broadcast Journalism and the other is to enrol on an acting course. Presenters don’t need to know all the technical stuff that gets the show to air but they need to know how to communicate with and gain the attention of the viewer.

Two creative positions in TV industry that are also in high demand are the positions of Camera Operative and Editor. Working under the direction of the Director or Producer it is the Camera Operatives and Editors who make the programmes look and feel like they do. There are many courses available up and down the country to help you improve or work on your skills in these areas. You can find out about training courses through organisations like CSV and Skillset:

The great thing about TV is that equipment and software you can practice on is very affordable. You can now buy camcorders and editing software for under two hundred pounds and there are many organisations who will now give young people funding to afford this equipment and software. The equipment and software may not be up to the standard and specification as the professionals use but you can very easily pick up the basics. Don’t miss an opportunity to do some filming and practise your editing. When you are starting off you may need to both shoot and edit your own stuff even if you just want to be a Camera Operative or you just want to be an editor because when you are starting off you need a finished product to show potential employers. If you can produce a high quality finished product with below standard equipment this shows an employer how good you are at editing or filming.

However it is important that when you are learning and training to find out what equipment and software professional companies use as these companies will be looking to employ people who have experience with the systems they use. These systems may be expensive but armed with this information you may be able to find a college or university course where they use the same equipment and software. To improve your skills as an Editor or Camera Operative you can go on a degree course although many argue having experience in the work place is just as or more important than having a degree.

If you are considering going down the university route be sure to do your research to find out where graduates of your chosen course or establishment go on to work at. You can also ask media professionals and media companies where they studied to or where the people they employ come from. Picking the right course and the right university is very important if you want to go far in this industry.

Another sector of TV employment is Audio. Many programmes require Audio engineers, technicians, recordists and editors. There are fewer audio positions that there are visual positions in the TV world but they play a very important part in TV production. Like editing and filming equipment and software is becoming more affordable to practice audio technique on. Just as people that want to get in to the visual side of the industry practice and produce if you want to get in to audio you should be doing the same going out recording sounds and editing them in to a final piece so you have something to show future employers.

The great thing about the Internet TV boom is now with sites like YouTube anyone can set up their own online station or showcase their work online. Putting your work on site likes YouTube is a great way of getting exposure and feedback also by having it on the internet you can show people your work wherever you are even if you don’t have any of your projects with you.

There are many office based jobs in TV from Researchers to Producers and everything in between. Most of what makes a TV programme look good is the work that goes on before hand in the office. Many people start in the industry as Researchers and Runners. Researchers do as the job title says and research whereas Runners are the ones who do all the jobs no one else wants to or has time to do. In these two positions you can gain invaluable experience in the TV world.

Another office based position is that of writer. If you are doing a programme which features a presenter or a narrator what they are saying will have usually been scripted before the show. Writers play a very important part in the production of a TV show. To get a job as a writer TV companies will usually be looking for someone with a track record so it can be a hard area to get in to but if you keep building up your experience and work on your talent you can break in to this sector.

When breaking in to the media world you have to be ready to start at the bottom and work your way up. Many companies are working to tight budgets so you also have to be prepared not to be earning what you want to be earning right away. No one just walks in to positions as Director, Producer or Executive. The best thing to do is to try and get as much as work experience or do as much voluntary work for companies whilst you are young as you can to get yourself noticed and to gain some great experience.

When trying to break in to the TV industry you should always have you ear to the ground and be reading all the publications with Media News and Jobs in. Some great publications are the Media section in Monday’s Guardian newspaper and the Broadcast Magazine just to name a few. You should also favourite and bookmark every internet page with jobs in TV and keep checking back to them like the BBC jobs page for instance.

To have a good long career in TV you need to be a good networker and keep your contacts book up to date. A high percentage of TV jobs available are Freelance positions which means you are not a full time employee of the companies you are working with and they will just bring you in when they need you. This is because many production companies aren’t filming or editing everyday. The things to remember is that these companies have big lists of freelance staff they can call on so you need to make sure your name is on the top of their list and you do this by your networking skills and then when they do offer you work by doing a better job than any of their other Freelancers.