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Careers in TV

Careers in TVWant to work in TV? There’s more than one way to get there.

Working up from the bottom

One of the most popular ways to get into TV, this involves a lot of hard work. Usually you need to have a degree before you start, although it does not necessarily need to be in something relevant such as media studies. If you can prove that you have the qualifications, small studios and companies may take you on as a ‘runner.’

Runners are responsible for doing many of the small but vital jobs around the set – making sure everyone has food and drink, getting scripts to the right place at the right time, dressing sets and being a general ‘dogsbody.’ Many people really enjoy it, and the benefit is that it will give you an insight into how things generally work.

As a runner you can get a ‘foot in the door’ of the industry and you are well placed to apply for other jobs. It is worth bearing in mind that being a runner is generally not very well paid at all, and you may be required to work for free for a short time to prove that you have the commitment.

Qualifications alone

You’d think that a media studies degree would be an excellent route into TV. The good thing about doing formal qualifications is that you will be an expert in techniques and technologies used in the industry as soon as you have finished your course.

However, you should be realistic about your options. There are currently more people studying a ‘media-relevant’ degree than work in the whole of the BBC. There are roughly 200,000 people working in the media industry, yet 60,000 people try to get into it every year.

If you do choose to do a media degree or a post graduate qualification, it is worth looking around at your options. Ask the universities what their graduates tend to do, talk to media companies and ask them whether they would be more likely to hire you with that qualification. Make sure that you know exactly why you are spending your time studying, and try to supplement your course with work experience in the holidays.

Transfer from somewhere else

It is often much easier to gain experience in a less competitive field and then transfer to television later on. Many BBC journalists, producers and presenters, for instance, begin by working on local radio stations across the country. The experience allows them to build up their skills and gain credibility, and once inside the organisation they can apply for other jobs in the more competitive field of television.