If you're looking for an entry-level position that will introduce you to the field of telecommunications, consider a job as a master control operator. Master control operators work in the control centers of television and radio stations, loading and playing recorded television and radio programs and commercials. They adjust knobs in the master control center, such as color and video levels, to the correct settings and troubleshoot any equipment problems. They are responsible for switching between programs and playing prerecorded announcements, such as the station technical difficulty message or emergency broadcast recordings. Most master control operators have technical school training and are mechanically inclined.
The average salary of master control operators is $48,067, according to Salary Expert, an Internet source of national salary information. Salary depends on geographical area, with average salaries in 10 top cities as follows: New York, $61,737; Berkeley, Calif., $60,632; Washington, D.C., $59,957; Baltimore, $52,275; Philadelphia, $50,682; Houston, $48,135; Miami, $48,006; Augusta, Maine, $40,769; Fargo, N.D., $39,465 and Pierre, S.D., $34,756.
Across the nation, salaries also differ for those new to the field. When looking at ten randomly selected cities, earnings were as follows: Pierre, S.D., $26,650; Fargo, N.D., $30,261; Augusta, Maine, $31,326; Miami, $36,810; Houston, $36,909; Philadelphia, $38,862; Baltimore, $40,084; Washington, D.C., $45,974; Berkeley, Calf., $46,492 and New York, $47,339.
Master control operators in the 90th percentile of all earners are generally seasoned professionals who have several years in the field. In New York, the average salary for these top earners is $77,639, followed by Berkeley, Calf., $76,250; Washington, D.C., $75,400; Baltimore, $65,740; Philadelphia, $63,737; Houston, $60,534; Miami, $60,372; Augusta, Maine, $51,270; Fargo, S.D., $49,630 and Pierre, S.D., $43,709.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes master control operators in the category of broadcast and sound engineers. As of May 2012, projected job outlook for this occupational category through 2020 was 13 percent for audio and video technicians, 10 percent for broadcast and sound engineering technicians, 9 percent for broadcast technicians and 1 percent for sound technicians. These projections compare to 14 percent for all other occupations. Competition will be strong; master control operators up to date on the latest technology have the best chance of securing employment.
2016 Salary Information for Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $42,740 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, broadcast and sound engineering technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,200, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $62,340, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 134,300 people were employed in the U.S. as broadcast and sound engineering technicians.