Friday, August 15, 2008

Facts about Being an On Air Announcer

Whether you're keeping commuters entertained as a personable voice on the radio or you are calling the shots on a television program, being an on air announcer can give you a chance to reach a wide audience and to do something that can be a lot of fun. However, before you decide that this is a job to pursue you may need to do a little legwork and find out all of the facts. You might just find that being the voice of the media isn't quite what you'd hoped. On the other hand, you might also discover it's the perfect career for you.

What to Expect in the Job

Being an on air announcer isn't going to involve just reading off cue cards. Although you may be expected to read some pre-written material, that's not all your job is going to entail. Depending on the specific position you are offered, you may need to do research and write your own material. That means you might want to work on more than just your verbal communication skills.

You're also going to need to be ready to make off-the-cuff and ad-lib commentary on a regular basis. Most on air announcers don't know what's coming next so they can't always prepare in advance with a funny line or a colorful turn of the phrase. These are things you have to be ready to shoot out without any preparation.

On the bright side, you're also going to have a better chance of working in your community. If you’re on a local station, for example, you will probably become a celebrity in your area after working for a little while.

However, you also need to be prepared for the real demands of working in the media. Although there are some high points, you're going to end up working irregular hours. You may end up being hired for the early shift that will require you to be up and working before dawn. When you start out, you'll probably be the one assigned to weekend and holiday shifts.

And don't forget the pressure of the deadlines. If you're given an assignment to do on-air, it had better be ready or you're going to be the one who ends up embarrassed.

The Career's Pay & Future

The good news is that these announcers do end up earning a pretty decent living. Most average around $40,000 a year. However, if you are involved as a news analyst you could earn as much as $70,000 per year. These salaries would put you right at or above the median income levels in the United States. That’s not bad for a fun job.

Now, we have to talk about the bad news. According to the United States Department of Labor, the need for on air announcers is going to decrease between 2006 and 2016. The main reason is technology and mergers. When local stations were opened and operated locally, on air personalities were hired from within the community and that meant jobs were available all over the country. Today, many local stations are owned by media conglomerates that create the shows and programs and distribute them to all of the stations in order to cut down on the necessary staff and to save money.

As a result, the competition for announcer positions is going to be fierce even if you're lucky enough to find some openings at the local level. If none are available, you may need to relocate to a larger market in order to get your foot in the door.

Preparing for a Career as an Announcer

Experience is going to be crucial if you want to land one of these coveted spots. However, you won't be able to get experience until you've done some actually media work. One of the best ways to get this experience is by pursuing a degree in communications or broadcast journalism. Make sure the college you choose has a radio or television station that you can work at while completing your degree.

Before you finish school, be sure to pick up an internship. These programs give you hands-on training in the area you want to pursue so they are extremely valuable. Plus, you can use the experience to make connections which could help you land a job.

Having a great voice is also going to be useful. If you're not born with great speaking ability, practice will improve the situation. Consider working with a voice coach or a speech teacher to improve your delivery and to make sure that your announcing voice will impress hiring managers.

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