Career Pathway of the Month

April 2018 – Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Summary

automotive body and glass repairers image

Automotive body repairers restore automobile frames to factory specifications.
Quick Facts: Automotive Body and Glass Repairers
2016 Median Pay $40,370 per year
$19.41 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 180,000
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 14,900

What Automotive Body and Glass Repairers Do

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.

Work Environment

Automotive body repairers work indoors in body shops, which are often noisy. Shops are typically well ventilated, so that dust and paint fumes can be dispersed. Repairers sometimes work in awkward and cramped positions, and their work can be physically demanding.

Automotive glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location to repair damaged windshields and window glass.

How to Become an Automotive Body or Glass Repairer

Most employers prefer to hire automotive body and glass repairers who have completed a training program in automotive body or glass repair. Still, many new automotive body and glass repairers begin work without previous training. Industry certification is becoming increasingly important.

Pay

The median annual wage for automotive body and related repairers was $41,540 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for automotive glass installers and repairers was $34,340 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of automotive body and glass repairers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be best for jobseekers with industry certification and training in automotive body and glass repair.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for automotive body and glass repairers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of automotive body and glass repairers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about automotive body and glass repairers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Automotive Body and Glass Repairers Do

automotive body and glass repairers image

Automotive body and glass repairers inspect car frames for structural damage.

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass.

Duties

Automotive body repairers typically do the following:

  • Review damage reports, prepare cost estimates, and plan work
  • Inspect cars for structural damage
  • Remove damaged body parts, including bumpers, fenders, hoods, grilles, and trim
  • Realign car frames and chassis to repair structural damage
  • Hammer out or patch dents, dimples, and other minor body damage
  • Fit, attach, and weld replacement parts into place
  • Sand, buff, and prime refurbished and repaired surfaces
  • Apply new finish to restored body parts

Automotive glass installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Examine damaged glass or windshields and assess repairability
  • Clean damaged areas and prepare the surfaces for repair
  • Stabilize chips and cracks with clear resin
  • Remove glass that cannot be repaired
  • Check windshield frames for rust
  • Clean windshield frames and prepare them for installation
  • Apply urethane sealant to the windshield frames
  • Install replacement glass
  • Replace any parts removed prior to repairs

Automotive body and glass repairers can repair most damage from vehicle collisions and make vehicles look and drive like new. Repairs may be minor, such as replacing a cracked windshield, or major, such as replacing an entire door panel. After a major collision, the underlying frame of a car can become weakened or compromised. Body repairers restore the structural integrity of car frames to manufacturer specifications.

Body repairers use pneumatic tools and plasma cutters to remove damaged parts, such as bumpers and door panels. They also often use heavy-duty hydraulic jacks and hammers for major structural repairs, such as aligning the body. For some work, they use common hand tools, such as metal files, pliers, wrenches, hammers, and screwdrivers.

In some cases, body repairers complete an entire job by themselves. In other cases, especially in large shops, they use an assembly line approach in which they work as a team with each individual performing a specialized task.

Although body repairers sometimes prime and paint repaired parts, painting and coating workers generally perform these tasks.

Glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location and perform their work in the field. They commonly use specialized tools such as vacuum pumps to fill windshield cracks and chips with a stabilizing resin. When windshields are badly damaged, they use knives to remove the damaged windshield, and then they secure the new windshield using a special urethane adhesive.

Work Environment

Automotive body and glass repairers

Automotive body repairers typically work indoors in body shops.

Automotive body and related repairers held about 160,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of automotive body and related repairers were as follows:

Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair 57%
Automobile dealers 19
Self-employed workers 9
Automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance 6

Automotive glass installers and repairers held about 19,600 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of automotive glass installers and repairers were as follows:

Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair 87%
Self-employed workers 4
Construction 2
Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores 2

Body repairers typically work indoors in body shops, which are often noisy. Most shops are well ventilated, so that dust and paint fumes can be dispersed. Glass installers and repairers often travel to the customer’s location to repair damaged windshields and window glass.

Automotive body and glass repairers sometimes work in awkward and cramped positions, and their work can be physically demanding.

Injuries and Illnesses

Automotive body repairers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. These workers may suffer minor injuries, such as cuts, burns, and scrapes. Following safety procedures helps to avoid serious accidents.

Work Schedules

Most automotive body and glass repairers work full time. When shops have to complete a backlog of work, overtime is common. This often includes working evenings and weekends.

How to Become an Automotive Body or Glass Repairer

automotive body and glass repairers image

Automotive glass repairers receive hands-on practice while attending programs in collision repair.

Most employers prefer to hire automotive body and glass repairers who have completed a training program in automotive body or glass repair. Still, many new body and glass repairers begin work without previous training. Industry certification is increasingly important.

Education

High school, trade and technical school, and community college programs in collision repair combine hands-on practice and technical instruction. Topics usually include electronics, repair cost estimation, and welding, all of which provide a strong educational foundation for a career as a body repairer.

Trade and technical school programs typically award certificates after 6 months to 1 year of study. Some community colleges offer 2-year programs in collision repair. Many of these schools also offer certificates for individual courses, so students can take classes part time or as needed.

Training

New workers typically begin their on-the-job training by helping an experienced body repairer with basic tasks, such as fixing minor dents. As they gain experience, they move on to more complex work, such as aligning car frames. Some body repairers may become trained in as little as 1 year, but they generally need 2 or 3 years of hands-on training to become fully independent body repairers.

Basic automotive glass installation and repair can be learned in as little as 6 months, but becoming fully independent can take up to a year of training.

Workers who complete programs in collision repair often require significantly less on-the-job training. They typically advance to independent work more quickly than those who do not have the same level of education.

Throughout their careers, body repairers need to continue their training to keep up with rapidly changing automotive technology and materials. Body repairers are expected to develop their skills by reading technical manuals and by attending classes and seminars. Many employers regularly send workers to advanced training programs, such as those offered by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR).

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification is recommended because it shows competence and usually brings higher pay. In some instances it is required for advancement beyond entry-level work.

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a standard credential for body repairers. In addition, many vehicle and paint manufacturers have product certification programs that are used to train body repairers in specific technologies and repair methods.

A few states require a license to perform automotive glass installation and repair. Check with your state for more information.

Advancement

Automotive body and glass repairers earn more money as they gain experience, and some may advance into management positions within body shops, especially those workers with 2- or 4-year degrees.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Automotive body and glass repairers evaluate vehicle damage and determine necessary repair strategies. In some cases, they must decide if a vehicle is “totaled,” or too damaged to justify the cost of repair.

Customer-service skills. Automotive body and glass repairers discuss auto body and glass problems, along with options to fix them, with customers. Workers must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Automotive body and glass repairers must pay close attention to detail. Restoring a damaged auto body or windshield requires workers to have a keen eye for even the smallest imperfection.

Dexterity. Automotive body repairers’ tasks, such as removing door panels, hammering out dents, and using hand tools to install parts, require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Automotive body repairers must know which diagnostic, hydraulic, pneumatic, and other power equipment and tools are appropriate for certain procedures and repairs. They must know how to apply the correct techniques and methods necessary to repair automobiles.

Physical strength. Automotive body and glass repairers must sometimes lift heavy parts, such as door panels and windshields.

Time-management skills. Automotive body and glass repairers must be timely in their repairs. For many people, their automobile is their primary mode of transportation.

Pay

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Automotive body and related repairers

$41,540

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

$40,930

Automotive body and glass repairers

$40,370

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Automotive glass installers and repairers

$34,340

The median annual wage for automotive body and related repairers was $41,540 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,880, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $70,620.

The median annual wage for automotive glass installers and repairers was $34,340 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $51,540.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for automotive body and related repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Automobile dealers $41,700
Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair 41,550
Automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance 41,150

In May 2016, the median annual wages for automotive glass installers and repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Construction $39,450
Automotive body, paint, interior, and glass repair 34,420
Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores 28,310

The majority of repair shops and auto dealers pay automotive body and glass repairers on an incentive basis. In addition to receiving a guaranteed base salary, employers pay workers a set amount for completing various tasks. Their earnings depend on both the amount of work assigned and how fast they complete it.

Most automotive body and glass repairers work full time. When shops have to complete a backlog of work, overtime is common. This often includes working evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Automotive body and related repairers

9%

Automotive body and glass repairers

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

7%

Automotive glass installers and repairers

7%

Overall employment of automotive body and glass repairers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty (see table below).

An increase in the number of vehicles on the road should bolster demand for automotive body and glass repair over the next decade. Demand may fluctuate throughout the year due to the seasonality of inclement weather in some regions. The need for repair may be greater during the winter months in areas with snow and ice, for example, because these conditions increase the chance of accidents.

The adoption of advanced safety features, such as automatic braking for collision avoidance and more durable automotive glass, may reduce future demand for automotive body and glass repair work, but this technology will take time to become commonplace.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities are projected to be good for automotive body and glass repairers. The need to replace experienced automotive body and glass repairers who change occupations, retire, or stop working for other reasons will also provide many job opportunities.

The best opportunities in automotive body repair will be available to those with industry certification and training in automotive body repair and refinishing, and in collision repair.

Employment projections data for automotive body and glass repairers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Automotive body and glass repairers 180,000 195,000 8 14,900

Automotive body and related repairers

49-3021 160,400 174,100 9 13,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

Automotive glass installers and repairers

49-3022 19,600 20,900 7 1,300 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of automotive body and glass repairers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. See How to Become One $60,270
Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks. Postsecondary nondegree award $38,470
Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators

Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators

Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators evaluate insurance claims. They decide whether an insurance company must pay a claim, and if so, how much. See How to Become One $63,670
Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians (also known as diesel technicians) and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine. High school diploma or equivalent $45,170
Glaziers

Glaziers

Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights, and other fixtures in storefronts and buildings. High school diploma or equivalent $41,920
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, also called mechanics, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries. High school diploma or equivalent $47,690
Painting and coating workers

Painting and Coating Workers

Painting and coating workers paint and coat a wide range of products, including cars, jewelry, and ceramics, often with the use of machines. See How to Become One $35,300
Quick Facts: Automotive Service Technicians

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Summary

automotive service technicians and mechanics image

Automotive service technicians and mechanics use a variety of tools throughout their day.
Quick Facts: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
2016 Median Pay $38,470 per year
$18.50 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 749,900
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 45,900

What Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Do

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Work Environment

Most automotive service technicians and mechanics work in well-ventilated and well-lit repair shops. Although technicians often identify and fix automotive problems with computers, they commonly work with greasy parts and tools, sometimes in uncomfortable positions.

How to Become an Automotive Service Technician or Mechanic

Employers prefer that automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a program at a postsecondary institution. Industry certification is usually required once the person is employed.

Pay

The median annual wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $38,470 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities for qualified jobseekers should be very good.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for automotive service technicians and mechanics.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of automotive service technicians and mechanics with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about automotive service technicians and mechanics by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Do

Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics perform oil changes on vehicles.

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Duties

Automotive service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

  • Identify problems, often by using computerized diagnostic equipment
  • Plan work procedures, using charts, technical manuals, and experience
  • Test parts and systems to ensure that they work properly
  • Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
  • Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
  • Repair or replace worn parts, such as brake pads, wheel bearings, and sensors
  • Perform repairs to manufacturer and customer specifications
  • Explain automotive problems and repairs to clients

Although service technicians work on traditional mechanical systems, such as engines, transmissions, and drivebelts, they also must be familiar with a growing number of electronic systems. Braking, transmission, and steering systems, for example, are controlled primarily by computers and electronic components.

Other integrated electronic systems, such as accident-avoidance sensors, are becoming common as well. In addition, a growing number of technicians are required to work on vehicles that use electricity or alternative fuels, such as ethanol.

Service technicians use many different tools, including computerized diagnostic tools and power tools such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, welding torches, and jacks and hoists. These tools usually are owned by their employers.

Service technicians also use many common hand tools, such as wrenches, pliers, and sockets and ratchets. Service technicians generally own these tools themselves. In fact, experienced workers often have thousands of dollars invested in their personal tool collection. For example, some invest in their own set of pneumatic tools—such as impact wrenches—powered by compressed air.

The following are examples of types of service technicians:

Automotive air-conditioning technicians install and repair air-conditioners and parts, such as compressors, condensers, and controls. These workers must be trained and certified in handling refrigerants.

Brake technicians diagnose brake system problems, adjust brakes, replace brake rotors and pads, and make other repairs on brake systems. Some technicians specialize in both brake and front-end work. (See “Front-end technicians.”)

Drivability technicians, also known as diagnostic technicians, use their extensive knowledge of engine management and fuel, electrical, ignition, and emissions systems to diagnose issues that prevent engines from performing efficiently. They often use the onboard diagnostic system of a car and electronic testing equipment such as scan tools and multimeters to find the malfunction.

Front-end technicians diagnose ride, handling, and tire wear problems. To correct these problems, they frequently use special alignment equipment and wheel-balancing machines.

Transmission technicians and rebuilders work on gear trains, couplings, hydraulic pumps, and other parts of transmissions. An extensive knowledge of computer controls and the ability to diagnose electrical and hydraulic problems are needed to work on these complex components.

Technicians who work on large trucks and buses are described in the diesel service technicians and mechanics profile.

Technicians who work on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and railcars are described in the heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians profile.

Technicians who repair and service motorcycles, motorboats, and small all-terrain vehicles are described in the profile on small engine mechanics.

Work Environment

Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics keep records of diagnostic tests and repairs.

Automotive service technicians and mechanics held about 749,900 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of automotive service technicians and mechanics were as follows:

Automobile dealers 31%
Automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance 27
Self-employed workers 13
Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores 9

Service technicians stand for most of the day, and they typically work in well-ventilated and well-lit repair shops. Although technicians often identify and fix automotive problems with computers, they commonly work with greasy parts and tools, sometimes in uncomfortable positions.

Work Schedules

Most service technicians work full time, and many work evenings or weekends. Overtime is common.

Injuries and Illnesses

Automotive service technicians and mechanics have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Service technicians must frequently work with heavy parts and tools. As a result, workplace injuries, such as small cuts, sprains, and bruises, are common.

How to Become an Automotive Service Technician or Mechanic

Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics learn from more experienced workers.

Employers prefer that automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a program at a postsecondary institution. Industry certification is usually required once the person is employed.

Education

High school courses in automotive repair, electronics, computers, and mathematics provide a good background for prospective service technicians. However, high school graduates typically need further training to become fully qualified.

Completing a vocational or other postsecondary education program in automotive service technology is considered the best preparation for entry-level positions. Programs usually last 6 months to a year and provide intensive career preparation through classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Short-term certificate programs in a particular subject, such as brake maintenance or engine performance, are also available.

Some service technicians get an associate’s degree. Courses usually include mathematics, electronics, and automotive repair. Some programs add classes in customer service and other necessary skills.

Various automobile manufacturers and dealers sponsor associate’s degree programs. Students in these programs typically spend alternating periods attending classes full time and working full time in service shops under the guidance of an experienced technician.

Training

Service technicians who have graduated from postsecondary programs in automotive service technology generally require little on-the-job training.

Those who have not completed postsecondary education, however, generally start as trainee technicians, technicians’ helpers, or lubrication workers. They gradually acquire more knowledge and experience by working with experienced mechanics and technicians.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. No formal test preparation is required, but many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed for the EPA exam.

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the standard credential for service technicians. Certification demonstrates competence and usually brings higher pay. Many employers require their service technicians to become certified.

ASE certification is available in nine different automobile specialty areas: automatic transmission/transaxle, brakes, light vehicle diesel engines, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, heating and air-conditioning, manual drive train and axles, and suspension and steering.

To become certified, technicians must have at least 2 years of experience (or relevant schooling and 1 year of experience) and pass an exam. Technicians who achieve certification in all of the foregoing areas (light vehicle diesel engine certification is not required) may earn ASE Master Technician status.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Service technicians discuss automotive problems—along with options to fix them—with their customers. Because workers may depend on repeat clients for business, they must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Service technicians must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing vehicle systems, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments or other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Service technicians perform many tasks that require steady hands and good hand–eye coordination, such as assembling or attaching components and subassemblies.

Mechanical skills. Service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often must take apart major parts for repairs and be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Service technicians must keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability of parts.

Physical strength. Service technicians must sometimes lift and maneuver heavy parts such as engines and body panels.

Troubleshooting skills. Service technicians use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in increasingly complicated mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

Pay

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Median annual wages, May 2016

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

$40,930

Automotive service technicians and mechanics

$38,470

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $38,470 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,070.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for automotive service technicians and mechanics in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Automobile dealers $42,680
Automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance 36,350
Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores 32,760

Many experienced technicians working for automobile dealers and independent repair shops receive a commission related to the labor cost charged to the customer. Under this system, which is commonly known as “flat rate” or “flag rate,” weekly earnings depend on the amount of work completed. Some repair shops pay technicians on an hourly basis instead.

Most service technicians work full time, and many work evenings or weekends. Overtime is common.

Job Outlook

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

7%

Automotive service technicians and mechanics

6%

Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The number of vehicles in use is expected to continue to rise. More entry-level service technicians will be needed to perform basic maintenance and repair, such as replacing brake pads and changing oil, on these vehicles. New technologies, however, such as electric vehicles, may limit future demand for automotive service technicians and mechanics because these vehicles will be more reliable and thus require less frequent maintenance and repair.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities for qualified applicants should be very good, whether they obtained their knowledge through education or experience.

Many job openings will be in automobile dealerships and independent repair shops, where most service technicians currently work.

Employment projections data for automotive service technicians and mechanics, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Automotive service technicians and mechanics 49-3023 749,900 795,800 6 45,900 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of automotive service technicians and mechanics.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Automotive body and glass repairers

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass. High school diploma or equivalent $40,370
Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Diesel service technicians (also known as diesel technicians) and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine. High school diploma or equivalent $45,170
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, also called mechanics, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries. High school diploma or equivalent $47,690
Small engine mechanics

Small Engine Mechanics

Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment. Mechanics often specialize in one type of equipment, such as motorcycles, motorboats, or outdoor power equipment. See How to Become One $35,280
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. See How to Become One $60,270

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Summary

diesel service technicians and mechanics image

Diesel service technicians and mechanics repair diesel engine vehicles, such as buses and trucks.
Quick Facts: Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics
2016 Median Pay $45,170 per year
$21.72 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 278,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 25,800

What Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics Do

Diesel service technicians (also known as diesel technicians) and mechanics inspect, repair, and overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.

Work Environment

Diesel service technicians and mechanics usually work in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops. They occasionally repair vehicles on roadsides or at worksites. Most diesel technicians work full time, and overtime and evening shifts are common.

How to Become a Diesel Service Technician or Mechanic

Although most diesel service technicians and mechanics learn on the job after a high school education, employers are increasingly preferring applicants who have completed postsecondary training programs in diesel engine repair. In addition, industry certification may be important.

Pay

The median annual wage for diesel service technicians and mechanics was $45,170 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job prospects should be best for those who have completed postsecondary training in diesel engine repair.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for diesel service technicians and mechanics.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of diesel service technicians and mechanics with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about diesel service technicians and mechanics by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics Do

Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel service technicians and mechanics may work on a vehicle’s electrical system, make major engine repairs, or retrofit engines with emission control systems to comply with pollution regulations.

Diesel service technicians and mechanics (also known as diesel technicians) inspect, repair, or overhaul buses and trucks, or maintain and repair any type of diesel engine.

Duties

Diesel service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

  • Consult with customers,  read work orders, and determine work required
  • Plan work procedures, using technical charts and manuals
  • Inspect brake systems, steering mechanisms, transmissions, engines, and other parts of vehicles
  • Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
  • Read and interpret diagnostic test results to identify mechanical problems
  • Repair or replace malfunctioning components, parts, and other mechanical or electrical equipment
  • Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
  • Test-drive vehicles to ensure that they run smoothly

Because of their efficiency and durability, diesel engines have become the standard in powering trucks and buses. Other heavy vehicles and mobile equipment, including bulldozers and cranes, also are powered by diesel engines, as are many commercial boats and some passenger vehicles and pickups.

Diesel technicians make major and minor engine repairs, and work on a vehicle’s electrical and exhaust systems to comply with pollution regulations.

Diesel engine maintenance and repair is becoming more complex as engines and other components use more electronic systems to control their operation. For example, fuel injection and engine timing systems rely on microprocessors to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize harmful emissions. In most shops, workers often use hand-held or laptop computers to diagnose problems and adjust engine functions.

Diesel technicians also use a variety of power and machine tools, such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, grinding machines, and welding equipment. Hand tools, including pliers, sockets and ratchets, and screwdrivers, are commonly used.

Employers typically provide expensive power tools and computerized equipment, but workers generally acquire their own hand tools over time.

Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles are described in the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.

Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and railcars, are described in the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

Technicians and mechanics who work primarily on motorboats, motorcycles, and small all-terrain vehicles are described in the small engine mechanics profile.

Work Environment

Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel technicians usually work in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops.

Diesel service technicians and mechanics held about 278,800 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of diesel service technicians and mechanics were as follows:

Truck transportation 18%
Wholesale trade 14
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 9
Automotive repair and maintenance 8
Self-employed workers 7

Diesel technicians usually work in well-ventilated and sometimes noisy repair shops. They occasionally repair vehicles on roadsides or at worksites.

Injuries and Illnesses

Diesel service technicians and mechanics have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. They often lift heavy parts and tools, handle greasy or dirty equipment, and work in uncomfortable positions. Sprains and cuts are common among these workers. Diesel technicians need to follow some safety precautions when in the workplace.

Work Schedules

Most diesel technicians work full time. Overtime is common, as many repair shops extend their service hours during evenings and weekends. In addition, some truck and bus repair shops provide 24-hour maintenance and repair services.

How to Become a Diesel Service Technician or Mechanic

Diesel service technicians and mechanics

Diesel technicians initially learn to perform routine maintenance and repair tasks.

Although most diesel technicians learn on the job after a high school education, employers are increasingly preferring applicants who have completed postsecondary training programs in diesel engine repair. In addition, obtaining industry certification may be helpful because certification demonstrates a diesel technician’s competence and experience.

Education

Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent. High school or postsecondary courses in automotive repair, electronics, and mathematics provide a strong educational background for a career as a diesel technician.

Some employers prefer to hire workers with postsecondary education in diesel engine repair. Many community colleges and trade and vocational schools offer certificate or degree programs in diesel engine repair.

These degree programs mix classroom instruction with hands-on training and include learning the basics of diesel technology, repair techniques and equipment, and practical exercises. Students also learn how to interpret technical manuals and electronic diagnostic reports.

Training

Diesel technicians who begin working without any postsecondary education are trained extensively on the job. Trainees are assigned basic tasks, such as cleaning parts, checking fuel and oil levels, and driving vehicles in and out of the shop.

After they learn routine maintenance and repair tasks and demonstrate competence, trainees move on to more complicated subjects, such as vehicle diagnostics. This process can take from 3 to 4 years, at which point a trainee is usually considered a journey-level diesel technician.

Over the course of their careers, diesel technicians must learn to use new techniques and equipment. Employers often send experienced technicians to special training classes conducted by manufacturers and vendors to learn about the latest diesel technology.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the standard credential for diesel and other automotive service technicians and mechanics. Although not required, this certification demonstrates a diesel technician’s competence and experience to potential employers and clients, and often brings higher pay.

Diesel technicians may be certified in specific repair areas, such as drivetrains, electronic systems, and preventative maintenance and inspection. To earn certification, technicians must have 2 years of work experience and pass one or more ASE exams. To remain certified, diesel technicians must pass a recertification exam every 5 years.

Many diesel technicians are required to have a commercial driver’s license so that they may test-drive buses and large trucks.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Diesel technicians frequently discuss automotive problems and necessary repairs with their customers. They must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Diesel technicians must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing engines and components, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments and other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Mechanics need a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination for many tasks, such as disassembling engine parts, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools.

Mechanical skills. Diesel technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often disassemble major parts for repairs, and they must be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Diesel technicians must keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and accountability for parts.

Physical strength. Diesel technicians often lift heavy parts and tools, such as exhaust system components and pneumatic wrenches.

Troubleshooting skills. Diesel technicians use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

Pay

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Median annual wages, May 2016

Diesel service technicians and mechanics

$45,170

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

$40,930

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for diesel service technicians and mechanics was $45,170 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,070, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $67,550.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for diesel service technicians and mechanics in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $53,450
Wholesale trade 46,430
Automotive repair and maintenance 43,220
Truck transportation 41,280

Many diesel technicians, especially those employed by truck fleet dealers and repair shops, receive a commission in addition to their base salary.

Most diesel technicians work full time. Overtime is common, as many repair shops extend their service hours during evenings and weekends. In addition, some truck and bus repair shops provide 24-hour maintenance and repair services.

Job Outlook

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Diesel service technicians and mechanics

9%

Total, all occupations

7%

Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

7%

Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

As more freight is shipped across the country, additional diesel-powered trucks will be needed to carry freight wherever trains and pipelines are not available or economical. In addition, diesel cars and light trucks are becoming more popular, and more diesel technicians will be needed to maintain and repair these vehicles.

Job Prospects

Workers who have completed postsecondary education should have the best job opportunities, followed by graduates of accredited high school automotive programs.

Workers without postsecondary education often require more supervision and on-the-job instruction than others. These untrained workers will face stronger competition for jobs because training is an expensive and time-consuming process for employers.

Employment projections data for diesel service technicians and mechanics, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists 49-3031 278,800 304,600 9 25,800 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of diesel service technicians and mechanics.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. See How to Become One $60,270
Automotive body and glass repairers

Automotive Body and Glass Repairers

Automotive body and glass repairers restore, refinish, and replace vehicle bodies and frames, windshields, and window glass. High school diploma or equivalent $40,370
Automotive service technicians and mechanics

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks. Postsecondary nondegree award $38,470
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians, also called mechanics, inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries. High school diploma or equivalent $47,690
Small engine mechanics

Small Engine Mechanics

Small engine mechanics inspect, service, and repair motorized power equipment. Mechanics often specialize in one type of equipment, such as motorcycles, motorboats, or outdoor power equipment. See How to Become One $35,280

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Summary

electrical and electronics installers and repairers image

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers use special testing equipment to determine problems.
Quick Facts: Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers
2016 Median Pay $55,920 per year
$26.89 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 135,000
Job Outlook, 2016-26 1% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2016-26 1,000

What Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers Do

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Work Environment

Many electrical and electronics installers and repairers work in repair shops or in factories. Installers and repairers may have to lift heavy equipment and work in awkward positions. The majority worked full time in 2016.

How to Become an Electrical or Electronics Installer and Repairer

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers need at least a high school education, but most specializations require further preparation through advanced education, apprenticeship training, or work experience.

Pay

The median annual wage for electrical and electronics installers and repairers was $55,920 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026. However, growth rates will vary by specialty. Job opportunities should be best for qualified workers with an associate’s degree in electronics.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for electrical and electronics installers and repairers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of electrical and electronics installers and repairers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about electrical and electronics installers and repairers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers Do

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers use diagnostic equipment to troubleshoot electric motors.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Duties

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Discuss problems and requirements with customers
  • Inspect and test equipment
  • Reproduce, isolate, and diagnose problems
  • Disassemble equipment as necessary to access problematic components
  • Clean, repair, and replace components
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Keep records of repairs, tests, parts, and labor hours

Modern manufacturing plants and transportation systems use a large amount of electrical and electronics equipment, from assembly line motors to sonar systems. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers fix and maintain these complex pieces of equipment.

Because automated electronic control systems are becoming more complex, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters—which measure voltage, current, and resistance—and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers often use hand tools such as pliers, screwdrivers, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

The following are examples of types of electrical and electronics installers and repairers:

Commercial and industrial electrical and electronics equipment repairers adjust, test, repair, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairerssuch as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers—specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. These installers and repairers work with a range of complex electronic equipment, including digital audio and video players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays. These workers also may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Work Environment

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers usually work in a clean shop.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers held about 135,000 jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up electrical and electronics installers and repairers was distributed as follows:

Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment 68,300
Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay 23,400
Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers 17,300
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment 13,900
Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles 12,100

The largest employers of electrical and electronics installers and repairers were as follows:

Manufacturing 20%
Government 16
Wholesale trade 13
Utilities 12
Repair and maintenance 11

Many electrical and electronics installers and repairers work in repair shops or in factories, and some may work outside when they travel to job sites.

Installers and repairers may have to lift heavy equipment and work in awkward positions. They spend most of their day walking, standing, or kneeling.

Work Schedules

The majority of electrical and electronics installers and repairers worked full time in 2016.

How to Become an Electrical or Electronics Installer and Repairer

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Many technical colleges have basic electronics programs that include practical experience labs.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers need at least a high school education, but most specializations require further preparation through advanced education, work experience, or both.

Education

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers must understand electrical equipment and electronics. As a result, employers often prefer applicants who have taken courses in electronics at a community college or technical school. Courses usually cover AC and DC electronics, electronic devices, and microcontrollers. It is important for prospects to choose schools that include hands-on training in order to gain practical experience.

Training

In addition to technical education, workers usually receive training on specific types of equipment. This may involve manufacturer-specific training for repairers who will perform warranty work.

Before working independently, entry-level repairers usually develop their skills while working with experienced technicians who provide technical guidance.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some electrical and electronics installers and repairers need prior work experience. Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers typically begin by helping in machine or electrical workshops, where they gain experience with tools and motors.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers often gain experience by first working as electricians.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

While certification is not required, a number of organizations offer it, and it can be useful in getting a job. For example, the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA International) offers more than 50 certification programs in numerous electronics specialties for various levels of competency. The International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians (ISCET) also offers certification for several levels of competence. The ISCET focuses on a broad range of topics, including basic electronics, electronic systems, and appliance service. To become certified, applicants must meet prerequisites and pass a comprehensive exam.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers must be able to identify the color-coded components that are often used in electronic equipment.

Communication skills. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work closely with customers, so they must listen to and understand customers’ descriptions of problems and explain solutions in a simple, clear manner.

Physical stamina. Some electrical and electronics installers and repairers must stand at their station for their full shift, which can be tiring.

Physical strength. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers may need to lift heavy parts during the repair process. Some components weigh over 50 pounds.

Technical skills. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers use a variety of mechanical and diagnostic tools to install or repair equipment.

Troubleshooting skills. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers must be able to identify problems with equipment and systems and make the necessary repairs.

Pay

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

$55,920

Electrical and electronic equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

$48,780

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for electrical and electronics installers and repairers was $55,920 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $84,990.

Median annual wages for electrical and electronics installers and repairers in May 2016 were as follows:

Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay $75,670
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment 59,280
Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment 56,250
Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers 41,570
Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles 32,220

In May 2016, the median annual wages for electrical and electronics installers and repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Utilities $76,670
Government 62,590
Manufacturing 55,060
Wholesale trade 47,140
Repair and maintenance 45,250

The majority of electrical and electronics installers and repairers worked full time in 2016.

Job Outlook

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

1%

Electrical and electronic equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers

-1%

Overall employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026. Growth rates will vary by occupation.

Employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers of commercial and industrial equipment, which represents about half of this profile’s 2016 employment, is projected to grow 2 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. As the industrial sectors of the economy expand, these workers will be needed to service and repair equipment.

Employment of powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics installers and repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. Although the installation of new, energy-efficient technologies will likely spur demand for some new workers, slow employment growth in the utilities industries is expected to temper demand for these workers.

Employment of electric motor, power tool, and related repairers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Improvements in electrical and electronic equipment design, as well as the increased use of disposable tool parts, are expected to result in slow employment growth.

Employment of electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment is projected to grow 3 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. Increasing employment in local governments is expected to drive most of the employment growth.

Employment of motor vehicle electronic equipment installers and repairers, which represents less than 10 percent of this profile’s 2016 employment, is projected to decline 26 percent from 2016 to 2026. Motor vehicle manufacturers continue to install more and higher quality sound, security, entertainment, and navigation systems in new vehicles. These new electronic systems require less maintenance and will limit installation of aftermarket products.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities should be good for qualified workers who are familiar with electronics, especially those with an associate’s degree in electronics.

The best job opportunities should be for commercial and industrial equipment installers and repairers as the need to replace retiring workers should result in many job openings. Conversely, few opportunities will be available for motor vehicle equipment installers and repairers as the amount of aftermarket installations continues to decline.

Employment projections data for electrical and electronics installers and repairers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers 135,000 136,000 1 1,000

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers

49-2092 17,300 18,500 7 1,200 employment projections excel document xlsx

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment

49-2093 13,900 14,300 3 400 employment projections excel document xlsx

Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial equipment

49-2094 68,300 69,900 2 1,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay

49-2095 23,400 24,300 4 900 employment projections excel document xlsx

Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles

49-2096 12,100 9,000 -26 -3,100 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of electrical and electronics installers and repairers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories. High school diploma or equivalent $52,720
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. See How to Become One $60,270
Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, also known as telecom technicians, set up and maintain devices that carry communications signals, such as telephone lines and Internet routers. Postsecondary nondegree award $53,640
Elevator installers and repairers

Elevator Installers and Repairers

Elevator installers and repairers install, fix, and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other lifts. High school diploma or equivalent $78,890
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems, among other tasks. High school diploma or equivalent $36,940
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, including broadcast and communications systems, such as portable music players and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. Bachelor’s degree $96,270
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, and use measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation. Associate’s degree $62,190
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites. High school diploma or equivalent $49,100

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Summary

general maintenance and repair workers image

Workers use hand tools and power tools to fix appliances and equipment.
Quick Facts: General Maintenance and Repair Workers
2016 Median Pay $36,940 per year
$17.76 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 1,432,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 112,500

What General Maintenance and Repair Workers Do

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems, among other tasks.

Work Environment

General maintenance and repair workers often carry out many different tasks in a single day. They could work at any number of indoor or outdoor locations. They may work inside a single building, such as a hotel or hospital, or be responsible for the maintenance of many buildings, such as those in an apartment complex or on a college campus.

How to Become a General Maintenance and Repair Worker

Jobs in this occupation typically require a high school diploma or equivalent. General maintenance and repair workers often learn their skills on the job for several years. They start out performing simple tasks while watching and learning from skilled maintenance workers.

Pay

The median annual wage for general maintenance and repair workers was $36,940 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of general maintenance and repair workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment may rise as increasing home prices and sales drive demand for remodeling and maintenance work.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for general maintenance and repair workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of general maintenance and repair workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about general maintenance and repair workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What General Maintenance and Repair Workers Do

General maintenance and repair workers

Workers are responsible for the upkeep of many homes and apartment buildings.

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems.

Duties

General maintenance and repair workers typically do the following:

  • Maintain and repair machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings
  • Fix or replace faulty electrical switches, outlets, and circuit breakers
  • Inspect and diagnose problems and figure out the best way to correct them
  • Perform routine preventive maintenance to ensure that machines continue to run smoothly
  • Assemble and set up machinery or equipment
  • Plan repair work using blueprints or diagrams
  • Do general cleaning and upkeep of buildings and properties
  • Order supplies from catalogs and storerooms
  • Meet with clients to estimate repairs and costs
  • Keep detailed records of their work

General maintenance and repair workers are hired for maintenance and repair tasks that are not complex enough to need the specialized training of a licensed tradesperson, such as a plumber or electrician.

These workers are also responsible for recognizing when a job is above their skill level and requires the expertise of an electrician; a carpenter; a heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanic or installer; or a plumber, pipefitter, or steamfitter.

General maintenance and repair workers may fix or paint roofs, windows, doors, floors, woodwork, walls, and other parts of buildings.

They also maintain and repair specialized equipment and machinery in cafeterias, laundries, hospitals, stores, offices, and factories.

General maintenance and repair workers get supplies and parts from distributors or storerooms to fix problems. They use common hand and power tools, such as screwdrivers, saws, drills, wrenches, and hammers to fix, replace, or repair equipment and parts of buildings.

Work Environment

General maintenance and repair workers

Many workers need safety gear when working with certain tools and equipment.

General maintenance and repair workers held about 1.4 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of general maintenance and repair workers were as follows:

Real estate and rental and leasing 21%
Manufacturing 13
Government 12
Healthcare and social assistance 8
Educational services; state, local, and private 8

General maintenance and repair workers often carry out many different tasks in a single day at any number of locations. They may work inside a single building, such as a hotel or hospital, or be responsible for the maintenance of many buildings, such as those in an apartment complex or on a college campus.

General maintenance and repair workers may have to stand for long periods or lift heavy objects. These workers may work in uncomfortably hot or cold environments, in uncomfortable or cramped positions, or on ladders. The work involves a lot of walking, climbing, and reaching.

Injuries and Illnesses

General maintenance workers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Workers risk electrical shocks, falls, cuts, and bruises.

Work Schedules

Most general maintenance workers work full time, including evenings or weekends. Some are on call for emergency repairs.

How to Become a General Maintenance and Repair Worker

General maintenance and repair workers

Beginners often work under the supervision of more experienced workers.

Jobs in this field typically do not require any formal education beyond high school. General maintenance and repair workers often learn their skills on the job. They start by doing simple tasks and watching and learning from skilled maintenance workers.

Education

Many maintenance and repair workers learn some basic skills in high school shop or technical education classes, postsecondary trade or vocational schools, or community colleges.

Courses in mechanical drawing, electricity, woodworking, blueprint reading, mathematics, and computers are useful. Maintenance and repair workers often do work that involves electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning systems or painting and roofing tasks. Workers need a good working knowledge of many repair and maintenance tasks.

Practical training, available at many adult education centers and community colleges, is another option for workers to learn tasks such as drywall repair and basic plumbing.

Training

General maintenance and repair workers usually start by watching and learning from skilled maintenance workers. They begin by doing simple tasks, such as fixing leaky faucets and replacing lightbulbs. After gaining experience, general maintenance and repair workers move on to more difficult tasks, such as overhauling machinery or building walls.

Some general maintenance and repair workers learn their skills by assisting other types of repair or construction workers, including machinery repairerscarpenters, or electricians.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensing requirements vary by state and locality. For more complex tasks, workers may need to be licensed in a particular specialty, such as electrical or plumbing work.

Advancement

Some maintenance and repair workers decide to train in one specific craft and become craftworkers, such as electriciansheating and air-conditioning mechanics, or plumbers.

Other maintenance workers eventually open their own repair or contracting business. However, those who want to become a project manager or own their own business may need some postsecondary education or a degree in construction management. For more information, see the profile on construction managers.

Within small organizations, promotion opportunities may be limited.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. These workers interact with customers on a regular basis. They need to be friendly and able to address customers’ questions.

Dexterity. Many repair and maintenance tasks, such as repairing small devices, connecting or attaching components, and using hand tools, require a steady hand and good hand–eye coordination.

Troubleshooting skills. Workers find, diagnose, and repair problems. They perform tests to figure out the cause of problems before fixing equipment.

Pay

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$40,930

Total, all occupations

$37,040

General maintenance and repair workers

$36,940

The median annual wage for general maintenance and repair workers was $36,940 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,660.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for general maintenance and repair workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Manufacturing $43,490
Government 40,560
Educational services; state, local, and private 39,180
Healthcare and social assistance 36,510
Real estate and rental and leasing 33,920

Most general maintenance and repair workers work full time, including evenings and weekends. Some are on call for emergency repairs.

Job Outlook

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

8%

General maintenance and repair workers

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Employment of general maintenance and repair workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment may rise as increasing home prices and sales drive demand for remodeling and maintenance work. In addition, maintenance and repair workers will continue to be needed to upgrade and renovate older homes.

Demographic changes also may affect the demand for general maintenance and repair workers. Because homeowners typically prefer to remain in their homes as they age, demand may increase for workers as the large baby-boom generation nears retirement. These older homeowners will invest in projects and renovations to accommodate their future living needs and allow them to remain in their homes after retirement.

The large millennial generation will also be entering the prime working-age and household-forming age cohort over the next decade. Although this generation has delayed home ownership because of financial and debt obligations, it is projected that many will enter the housing market over the next 10 years. These first-time homebuyers may favor existing older homes, which are often smaller and cheaper than new houses. This should help boost demand for maintenance and repair work to help keep these older homes in good condition.

In addition to single-family homes, maintenance and repair work is also needed for other types of properties. Due to the aging of many types of buildings, maintenance and repair workers will be needed to work on rental units and commercial and public buildings.

Many general maintenance and repair workers are employed in industries related to real estate, so employment opportunities may be sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. Some workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction and real estate development falls. However, maintenance and repairs continue during economic downturns as people opt to repair, rather than replace, equipment.

Job Prospects

Employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year will likely result in good job prospects. Many job openings are expected as experienced workers retire.

Those with experience in repair- or maintenance-related fields should continue to have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for general maintenance and repair workers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Maintenance and repair workers, general 49-9071 1,432,600 1,545,100 8 112,500 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of general maintenance and repair workers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Boilermakers

Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases. High school diploma or equivalent $62,060
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials. High school diploma or equivalent $43,600
Construction managers

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. Bachelor’s degree $89,300
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries. See How to Become One $55,920
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories. High school diploma or equivalent $52,720
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration and mechanics and installers

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings. Postsecondary nondegree award $45,910
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to, from, and within businesses, homes, and factories. High school diploma or equivalent $51,450

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Summary

heating air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers image

HVACR technicians must follow EPA rules when they work with gases and refrigerants.
Quick Facts: Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers
2016 Median Pay $45,910 per year
$22.07 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 332,900
Job Outlook, 2016-26 15% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 48,800

What Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers Do

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

Work Environment

HVACR technicians work mostly in homes, schools, hospitals, office buildings, or factories. Their worksites may be very hot or cold because the heating and cooling systems they must repair may not be working properly and because some parts of these systems are located outdoors. Working in cramped spaces and during irregular hours is common.

How to Become a Heating, Air Conditioning, or Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer

Because HVACR systems have become increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with postsecondary education or those who have completed an apprenticeship. Some states and localities may require technicians to be licensed.

Pay

The median annual wage for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $45,910 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Commercial and residential building construction is expected to drive employment growth, and job opportunities for HVACR technicians are expected to be good.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers Do

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration and mechanics and installers

HVACR technicians install, maintain, and repair heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems.

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called HVACR technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

Duties

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers typically do the following:

  • Install, clean, and maintain HVACR systems
  • Install electrical components and wiring
  • Inspect and test HVACR systems and components
  • Discuss system malfunctions with customers
  • Repair or replace worn or defective parts
  • Recommend maintenance to improve system performance
  • Keep records of work performed

Heating and air conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in homes, businesses, and other buildings. By providing a climate-controlled environment, refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items.

Some HVACR technicians specialize in one or more specific aspects of HVACR, such as radiant heating systems, solar panels, testing and balancing, or commercial refrigeration.

When installing or repairing air conditioning and refrigeration systems, technicians must follow government regulations regarding the conservation, recovery, and recycling of refrigerants. The regulations include those concerning the proper handling and disposal of fluids and pressurized gases.

Some HVACR technicians sell service contracts to their clients, providing periodic maintenance of heating and cooling systems. The service usually includes inspecting the system, cleaning ducts, replacing filters, and checking refrigerant levels.

Other workers sometimes help HVACR technicians install or repair cooling and heating systems. For example, on a large air conditioning installation job, especially one in which workers are covered by union contracts, ductwork may be installed by sheet metal workers, electrical work by electricians, and pipework by plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Boiler systems are sometimes installed by a boilermaker.

Home appliance repairers usually service window air conditioners and household refrigerators.

Work Environment

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration and mechanics and installers

HVACR technicians work indoors and outdoors.

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers held about 332,900 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers were as follows:

Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors 64%
Self-employed workers 9
Educational services; state, local, and private 4
Retail trade 4
Wholesale trade 3

HVACR technicians work mostly in homes, schools, stores, hospitals, office buildings, or factories. Some technicians are assigned to specific jobsites at the beginning of each day. Others travel to several different locations, making service calls.

Although most technicians work indoors, some may have to work on outdoor heat exchangers, even in bad weather. Technicians often work in awkward or cramped spaces, and some work in buildings that are uncomfortable because the air conditioning or heating system is not working properly.

Injuries and Illnesses

HVACR technicians have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Potential hazards include electrical shock, burns, muscle strains, and injuries from handling heavy equipment.

Appropriate safety equipment is necessary in handling refrigerants, because they are hazardous and contact can cause skin damage, frostbite, or blindness. When working in tight spaces, inhalation of refrigerants is also a potential hazard. Several refrigerants are highly flammable and require additional care.

Work Schedules

The majority of HVACR technicians worked full time in 2016. Evening or weekend shifts may be required, and HVACR technicians often work overtime or irregular hours during peak heating and cooling seasons.

How to Become a Heating, Air Conditioning, or Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration and mechanics and installers

New HVACR technicians typically begin by working alongside experienced technicians.

Because HVACR systems have become increasingly complex, employers generally prefer applicants with postsecondary education or those who have completed an apprenticeship. Some states and localities may require technicians to be licensed. Workers may need to pass a background check prior to being hired.

Education

Many HVACR technicians receive postsecondary instruction from technical and trade schools or community colleges that offer programs in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. These programs generally last from 6 months to 2 years and lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree.

High school students interested in becoming an HVACR technician should take courses in vocational education, math, and physics. Knowledge of plumbing or electrical work and a basic understanding of electronics is also helpful.

Training

New HVACR technicians typically begin by working alongside experienced technicians. At first, they perform basic tasks such as insulating refrigerant lines or cleaning furnaces. In time, they move on to more difficult tasks, including cutting and soldering pipes or checking electrical circuits.

Some technicians receive their training through an apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs usually last 3 to 5 years. Over the course of the apprenticeship, technicians learn safety practices, blueprint reading, and how to use tools. They also learn about the numerous systems that heat and cool buildings.

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship requirements vary by state and locality.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy, handle, or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. Many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed to prepare students for the EPA certification exam.

In addition, some states and localities require HVACR technicians to be licensed; check with your state and locality for more information.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. HVACR technicians often work in customers’ homes or business offices, so it is important that they be friendly, polite, and punctual. Repair technicians sometimes deal with unhappy customers whose heating or air conditioning is not working.

Detail oriented. HVACR technicians must carefully maintain records of all work performed. The records must include the nature of the work performed and the time it took, as well as a list of specific parts and equipment that were used.

Math skills. HVACR technicians need to calculate the correct load requirements to ensure that the HVACR equipment properly heats or cools the space required.

Mechanical skills. HVACR technicians install and work on complicated climate-control systems, so they must understand the HVAC components and be able to properly assemble, disassemble, and, if needed, program them.

Physical stamina. HVACR technicians may spend many hours walking and standing. The constant physical activity can be tiring.

Physical strength. HVACR technicians may have to lift and support heavy equipment and components, often without help.

Time-management skills. HVACR technicians frequently have a set number of daily maintenance calls. They should be able to keep a schedule and complete all necessary repairs or tasks.

Troubleshooting skills. HVACR technicians must be able to identify problems on malfunctioning heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems and then determine the best way to repair them.

Pay

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers

$45,910

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$43,440

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $45,910 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $73,350.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Wholesale trade $48,730
Educational services; state, local, and private 48,190
Retail trade 46,870
Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors 44,390

Apprentices usually earn about half of the wage paid to experienced workers. As they learn to do more, their pay increases.

The majority of HVACR technicians worked full time in 2016. Evening or weekend shifts may be required, and HVACR technicians often work overtime or irregular hours during peak heating and cooling seasons.

Job Outlook

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers

15%

Total, all occupations

7%

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

7%

Employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Commercial and residential building construction is expected to drive employment growth. The growing number of sophisticated climate-control systems is also expected to increase demand for qualified HVACR technicians.

Repair and replacement of HVACR systems is a large part of what technicians do. The growing emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction is likely to increase the demand for HVACR technicians as climate-control systems are retrofitted, upgraded, or replaced entirely.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities for HVACR technicians are expected to be good. Candidates familiar with tablet computers and electronics, as well as those who have developed troubleshooting skills, will have the best job prospects.

Technicians who specialize in new installation work may experience periods of unemployment when the level of new construction activity declines. Maintenance and repair work, however, usually remains relatively stable. Business owners and homeowners depend on their climate-control or refrigeration systems year round and must keep them in good working order, regardless of economic conditions.

Employment projections data for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers 49-9021 332,900 381,700 15 48,800 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Boilermakers

Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases. High school diploma or equivalent $62,060
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories. High school diploma or equivalent $52,720
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to, from, and within businesses, homes, and factories. High school diploma or equivalent $51,450
Sheet metal workers

Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used in heating and air conditioning systems. High school diploma or equivalent $46,940
solar photovoltaic installers image

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or other structures. High school diploma or equivalent $39,240
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems, among other tasks. High school diploma or equivalent $36,940
wind turbine technicians image

Wind Turbine Technicians

Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, install, maintain, and repair wind turbines. Postsecondary nondegree award $52,260
Stationary engineers and boiler operators

Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators

Stationary engineers and boiler operators control stationary engines, boilers, or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or for industrial purposes. High school diploma or equivalent $59,400

Line Installers and Repairers

Summary

line installers and repairers image

Line installers and repairers often work in teams to install and fix cables and wires.
Quick Facts: Line Installers and Repairers
2016 Median Pay $62,650 per year
$30.12 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 227,000
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 18,400

What Line Installers and Repairers Do

Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics.

Work Environment

Line workers encounter serious hazards on the job, including working with high-voltage electricity, often at great heights. The work also can be physically demanding. Although most work full time during regular business hours, some work irregular hours on evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays when needed.

How to Become a Line Installer or Repairer

To become proficient, most line installers and repairers require technical instruction and long-term on-the-job training. Apprenticeships are common.

Pay

The median annual wage for electrical power-line installers and repairers was $68,010 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for telecommunications line installers and repairers was $52,590 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of line installers and repairers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be best for those with good technical and mechanical skills.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for line installers and repairers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of line installers and repairers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about line installers and repairers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Line Installers and Repairers Do

Line installers and repairers

Line installers and repairers use a truck-mounted bucket to access equipment.

Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics.

Duties

Electrical power-line installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Install, maintain, or repair the power lines that move electricity
  • Identify defective devices, voltage regulators, transformers, and switches
  • Inspect and test power lines and auxiliary equipment
  • String power lines between poles, towers, and buildings
  • Climb poles and transmission towers and use truck-mounted buckets to get to equipment
  • Operate power equipment when installing and repairing poles, towers, and lines
  • Drive work vehicles to job sites
  • Follow safety standards and procedures

Telecommunications line installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Install, maintain, or repair telecommunications equipment
  • Inspect or test lines or cables
  • Lay underground cable, including fiber optic lines, directly in trenches
  • Pull cables in underground conduit
  • Install aerial cables, including over lakes or across rivers
  • Operate power equipment when installing and repairing poles, towers, and lines
  • Drive work vehicles to job sites
  • Set up service for customers

A complex network of physical power lines and cables provides consumers with electricity, landline telephone communication, cable television, and Internet access. Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, are responsible for installing and maintaining these networks.

Line installers and repairers can specialize in different areas depending on the type of network and industry in which they work:

Electrical power-line installers and repairers install and maintain the power grid—the network of power lines that moves electricity from generating plants to customers. They routinely work with high-voltage electricity, which requires extreme caution. The electrical current can range from hundreds of thousands of volts for long-distance transmission lines that make up the power grid to less than 10,000 volts for distribution lines that supply electricity to homes and businesses.

Line workers who maintain the interstate power grid work in crews that travel to locations throughout a large region to service transmission lines and towers. Workers employed by local utilities work mainly with lower voltage distribution lines, maintaining equipment such as transformers, voltage regulators, and switches. They also may work on traffic lights and street lights.

Telecommunications line installers and repairers install and maintain the lines and cables used by network communications companies. Depending on the service provided—local and long-distance telephone, cable television, or Internet—telecommunications companies use different types of cables, including fiber optic cables. Unlike metallic cables that carry electricity, fiber optic cables are made of glass and transmit signals using light. Working with fiber optics requires special skills, such as the ability to splice and terminate optical cables. In addition, workers use specialized equipment to test and troubleshoot cables and networking equipment.

Because these systems are complicated, many line workers also specialize by duty:

Line installers install new cable. They may work for construction contractors, utilities, or telecommunications companies. Workers generally start a new job by digging underground trenches or erecting utility poles and towers to carry the wires and cables. They use a variety of construction equipment, including digger derricks, which are trucks equipped with augers and cranes used to dig holes and set poles in place. Line installers also use trenchers, cable plows, and directional bore machines, which are used to cut openings in the earth to lay underground cables. Once the poles, towers, tunnels, or trenches are ready, workers install the new cable.

Line repairers are employed by utilities and telecommunications companies that maintain existing power and telecommunications lines. Maintenance needs may be identified in a variety of ways, including remote monitoring, aerial inspections, and by customer reports of service outages. Line repairers often must replace aging or outdated equipment, so many of these workers have installation duties in addition to their repair duties.

When a problem is reported, line repairers must identify the cause and fix it. This usually involves diagnostic testing using specialized equipment and repair work. To work on poles, line installers usually use bucket trucks to raise themselves to the top of the structure, although all line workers must be adept at climbing poles and towers when necessary. Workers use special safety equipment to keep them from falling when climbing utility poles and towers.

Storms and other natural disasters can cause extensive damage to power lines. When power is lost, line repairers must work quickly to restore service to customers.

Work Environment

Line installers and repairers

Line installers and repairers may be required to work at great heights.

Electrical power-line installers and repairers held about 120,900 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of electrical power-line installers and repairers were as follows:

Electric power generation, transmission and distribution 46%
Power and communication line and related structures construction 28
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 12
Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors 5

Telecommunications line installers and repairers held about 106,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of telecommunications line installers and repairers were as follows:

Wired telecommunications carriers 46%
Building equipment contractors 20
Utility system construction 16
Self-employed workers 5

The work of line installers and repairers can be physically demanding. Line installers must be comfortable working at great heights and in confined spaces. Despite the help of bucket trucks, all line workers must be able to climb utility poles and transmission towers and balance while working on them.

Their work often requires that they drive utility vehicles, travel long distances, and work outdoors.

Line installers and repairers often must work under challenging weather conditions, such as in snow, wind, rain, and extreme heat and cold, in order to keep electricity and telecommunications flowing.

Injuries and Illnesses

Line workers encounter serious hazards on their jobs and must follow safety procedures to minimize danger. For example, workers must wear safety equipment when entering underground manholes and test for the presence of gas before going underground.

Specifically, electric power-line workers have hazardous jobs. A worker can be electrocuted if he or she comes in contact with a live cable on a high-voltage power line. When workers engage live wires, they use electrically insulated protective devices and tools to minimize their risk.

Power lines are typically higher than telephone lines, increasing the risk of severe injury from a fall. To prevent injuries, line installers use fall-protection equipment when working on poles or towers. Safety procedures and training have significantly reduced the danger for line workers. However, the occupation is still among the most dangerous. As a result, telecommunications and electrical line workers have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

Work Schedules

Although most work full time during regular business hours, some line installers and repairers must work evenings and weekends. In emergencies or after storms and other natural disasters, workers may have to work long hours for several days in a row.

How to Become a Line Installer or Repairer

Line installers and repairers

Most installers and repairers have a high school diploma and receive long-term on-the-job training.

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for entry-level positions, but most line installers and repairers need technical instruction and long-term on-the-job training to become proficient. Apprenticeships are also common.

Education

Most companies require line installers and repairers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers prefer candidates with basic knowledge of algebra and trigonometry. In addition, technical knowledge of electricity or electronics obtained through military service, vocational programs, or community colleges can also be helpful.

Many community colleges offer programs in telecommunications, electronics, or electricity. Some programs work with local companies to offer 1-year certificates that emphasize hands-on fieldwork.

More advanced 2-year associate’s degree programs provide students with a broad knowledge of the technology used in telecommunications and electrical utilities. These programs offer courses in electricity, electronics, fiber optics, and microwave transmission.

Training

Electrical line installers and repairers often must complete apprenticeships or other employer training programs. These programs, which can last up to 3 years, combine on-the-job training with technical instruction and are sometimes administered jointly by the employer and the union representing the workers. For example, the Electrical Training Alliance offers apprenticeship programs in four specialty areas. The basic qualifications to enter an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • One year of algebra
  • Qualifying score on an aptitude test
  • Pass substance abuse screening

Line installers and repairers who work for telecommunications companies typically receive several years of on-the-job training. They also may be encouraged to attend training from equipment manufacturers, schools, unions, or industry training organizations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not mandatory, certification for line installers and repairers is also available from several associations. For example, the Electrical Training ALLIANCE offers certification for line installers and repairers in several specialty areas.

In addition, The Fiber Optic Association (FOA) offers two levels of fiber optic certification for telecommunications line installers and repairers.

Workers who drive heavy company vehicles usually need a commercial driver’s license.

Advancement

Entry-level line workers generally begin with an apprenticeship, which includes both classroom training and hands-on work experience. As they learn additional skills from more experienced workers, they may advance to more complex tasks. In time, experienced line workers advance to more sophisticated maintenance and repair positions in which they are responsible for increasingly large portions of the network.

After 3 to 4 years of working, qualified line workers reach the journey level. A journey-level line worker is no longer considered an apprentice and can perform most tasks without supervision. Journey-level line workers also may qualify for positions at other companies. Workers with many years of experience may become first-line supervisors or trainers.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Workers who handle electrical wires and cables must distinguish colors because the wires and cables are often color coded.

Mechanical skills. Line installers and repairers must have the knowledge and skills to repair or replace complex electrical and telecommunications lines and equipment.

Physical stamina. Line installers and repairers often must climb poles and work at great heights with heavy tools and equipment. Therefore, installers and repairers need to work for long periods without tiring easily.

Physical strength. Line installers and repairers must be strong enough to lift heavy tools, cables, and equipment on a regular basis.

Teamwork. Because workers often rely on their fellow crew members for their safety, teamwork is critical.

Technical skills. Line installers use sophisticated diagnostic equipment on circuit breakers, switches, and transformers. They must be familiar with electrical systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

Troubleshooting skills. Line installers and repairers must diagnose problems in increasingly complex electrical systems and telecommunication lines.

Pay

Line Installers and Repairers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Electrical power-line installers and repairers

$68,010

Line installers and repairers

$62,650

Telecommunications line installers and repairers

$52,590

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$40,930

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for electrical power-line installers and repairers was $68,010 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,190.

The median annual wage for telecommunications line installers and repairers was $52,590 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83,260.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for electrical power-line installers and repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Electric power generation, transmission and distribution $72,710
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 62,770
Power and communication line and related structures construction 59,300
Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors 59,030

In May 2016, the median annual wages for telecommunications line installers and repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Wired telecommunications carriers $66,990
Utility system construction 39,860
Building equipment contractors 39,670

Although most work full time during regular business hours, some line installers and repairers may work evenings and weekends. In emergencies or after storms and other natural disasters, they may have to work long hours for several days in a row.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, line installers and repairers had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2016.

Job Outlook

Line Installers and Repairers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Electrical power-line installers and repairers

14%

Line installers and repairers

8%

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Telecommunications line installers and repairers

1%

Overall employment of line installers and repairers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialty.

Employment of telecommunications line installers and repairers is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026. As the population grows and customers increasingly demand enhanced connectivity, installers will continue to build out and provide newer and faster telephone, cable, and Internet services. However, growth may be limited because many households already have access to high speed Internet.

New technological developments in wireless broadband service and the future development of the 5G mobile broadband network may eventually replace the need for hard-wired telecommunication lines. However, the existing telecommunication infrastructure will require upgrades to handle the 5G network, which should increase demand for some line installers.

Employment of electrical power-line installers and repairers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be largely due to the growing population and expansion of cities. With each new housing development or office park, new electric power lines are installed and will require maintenance. In addition, the interstate power grid will continue to grow in complexity to ensure reliability.

Job Prospects

Good job opportunities are expected for line installers and repairers overall. Highly skilled workers with apprenticeship training or a 2-year associate’s degree in telecommunications, electronics, or electricity should have the best job opportunities.

Employment projections data for line installers and repairers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Line installers and repairers 49-9050 227,000 245,300 8 18,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

Electrical power-line installers and repairers

49-9051 120,900 137,700 14 16,800 employment projections excel document xlsx

Telecommunications line installers and repairers

49-9052 106,100 107,700 1 1,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of line installers and repairers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, including broadcast and communications systems, such as portable music players and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. Bachelor’s degree $96,270
Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories. High school diploma or equivalent $52,720
Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers

Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers

Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that generate and distribute electric power. High school diploma or equivalent $78,370
Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, also known as telecom technicians, set up and maintain devices that carry communications signals, such as telephone lines and Internet routers. Postsecondary nondegree award $53,640

Medical Equipment Repairers

Summary

medical equipment repairers image

Medical equipment repairers adjust and repair medical equipment.
Quick Facts: Medical Equipment Repairers
2016 Median Pay $48,070 per year
$23.11 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 47,100
Job Outlook, 2016-26 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 2,000

What Medical Equipment Repairers Do

Medical equipment repairers install, maintain, and repair patient care equipment.

Work Environment

Although medical equipment repairers usually work during the day, they are sometimes expected to be on call, including evenings and weekends. Because repairing vital medical equipment is urgent, the work is sometimes stressful. Those who work in a patient-caring environment are potentially exposed to germs, diseases, and other health risks.

How to Become a Medical Equipment Repairer

Employers generally prefer candidates who have an associate’s degree in biomedical technology or engineering. Depending on the area of specialization, repairers may need a bachelor’s degree, especially for advancement.

Pay

The median annual wage for medical equipment repairers was $48,070 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical equipment repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment is projected to grow slightly as these repairers will be needed to repair medical equipment in healthcare settings.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for medical equipment repairers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical equipment repairers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about medical equipment repairers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Medical Equipment Repairers Do

Medical equipment repairers

Medical equipment repairers often test and calibrate equipment.

Medical equipment repairers install, maintain, and repair patient care equipment.

Duties

Medical equipment repairers typically do the following:

  • Install medical equipment
  • Test and calibrate parts and equipment
  • Repair and replace parts
  • Perform preventive maintenance and service
  • Keep records of maintenance and repairs
  • Review technical manuals and regularly attend training sessions
  • Explain and demonstrate how to operate medical equipment
  • Manage replacement of medical equipment

Medical equipment repairers, also known as biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs), repair a wide range of electronic, electromechanical, and hydraulic equipment used in hospitals and health practitioners’ offices. They may work on patient monitors, defibrillators, ventilators, anesthesia machines, and other life-supporting equipment. They also may work on medical imaging equipment (x rays, CAT scanners, and ultrasound equipment), voice-controlled operating tables, and electric wheelchairs. In addition, they repair medical equipment that dentists and eye doctors use.

If a machine has problems or is not functioning to its potential, repairers first diagnose the problem. They then adjust the mechanical, electronic, or hydraulic parts or modify the software in order to recalibrate the equipment and fix the issue.

Medical equipment repairers use a variety of tools. Most use hand tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and soldering irons. Others use electronic tools, such as multimeters (an electronic measuring device that combines several measures) and computers. Much of the equipment that they maintain and repair uses specialized test-equipment software. Repairers use this software to calibrate the machines.

Many doctors, particularly specialty practitioners, rely on complex medical devices to run tests and diagnose patients, and they must be confident that the readings are accurate. Therefore, medical equipment repairers sometimes perform routine scheduled maintenance to ensure that sophisticated equipment, such as x-ray machines and CAT scanners, are in good working order. For less complicated equipment, such as electric hospital beds, workers make repairs as needed.

In a hospital setting, medical equipment repairers must be comfortable working around patients because repairs occasionally must take place while equipment is being used. When this is the case, the repairer must take great care to ensure that their work activities do not disturb patients.

Although some medical equipment repairers are trained to fix a variety of equipment, others specialize in repairing one or a small number of machines.

Work Environment

Medical equipment repairers

Medical equipment repairers often must work in a patient-caring environment.

Medical equipment repairers held about 47,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of medical equipment repairers were as follows:

Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers 27%
Electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance 18
Hospitals; state, local, and private 15
Ambulatory healthcare services 10
Rental and leasing services 8

Medical equipment repairers who work as contractors often have to travel—sometimes long distances—to perform needed repairs. Repairers often must work in a patient-caring environment, which has the potential to expose them to germs, diseases and other health risks.

Because repairing vital medical equipment is urgent, the work can be stressful. In addition, installing and repairing medical equipment often involves lifting and carrying heavy objects as well as working in tight spaces.

Work Schedules

Although medical equipment repairers usually work during the day, they are sometimes expected to be on call, including evenings and weekends. Most medical equipment repairers work full time.

How to Become a Medical Equipment Repairer

Medical equipment repairers

Medical equipment repairers need good technical skills in order to diagnose problems and fix equipment.

Employers generally prefer candidates who have an associate’s degree in biomedical technology or engineering. Depending on the area of specialization, repairers may need a bachelor’s degree, especially for advancement.

Education

Education requirements for medical equipment repairers vary, depending on a worker’s experience and area of specialization. However, the most common education is an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering. Those who repair less-complicated equipment, such as hospital beds and electric wheelchairs, may learn entirely through on-the-job training, sometimes lasting up to 1 year. Repairers who work on more sophisticated equipment, such as CAT scanners and defibrillators, may need a bachelor’s degree.

Training

New workers generally observe and help experienced repairers for 3 to 6 months to start. As they learn, workers gradually become more independent while still under supervision.

Each piece of equipment is different, so medical equipment repairers must learn each one separately. In some cases, this requires studying a machine’s technical specifications and operating manual. Medical device manufacturers also may provide technical training.

Medical equipment technology is rapidly evolving, and new devices are frequently introduced. Repairers must continually update their skills and knowledge of new technologies and equipment through seminars and self-study. The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may also offer training.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not mandatory, certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. It can also increase a repairer’s opportunities for advancement. Most manufacturers and employers, particularly those in hospitals, often pay for their in-house medical repairers to become certified.

Some associations offer certifications for medical equipment repairers. For example, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) offers certification in three specialty areas—Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET), Certified Radiology Equipment Specialists (CRES), and Certified Laboratory Equipment Specialist (CLES).

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Medical equipment repairers must effectively communicate technical information by telephone, in writing, and in person when speaking to clients, supervisors, and co-workers.

Dexterity. Many tasks, such as connecting or attaching parts and using hand tools, require a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Mechanical skills. Medical equipment repairers must be familiar with medical components and systems and how they interact. Often, repairers must disassemble and reassemble major parts for repair.

Physical stamina. Standing, crouching, and bending in awkward positions are common when making repairs to equipment. Therefore, workers should be physically fit.

Technical skills. Technicians use sophisticated diagnostic tools when working on complex medical equipment. They must be familiar with both the equipment’s internal parts and the appropriate tools needed to fix them.

Time-management skills. Because repairing vital medical equipment is urgent, workers must make good use of their time and perform repairs quickly.

Troubleshooting skills. As medical equipment becomes more intricate, problems become more difficult to identify. Therefore, repairers must be able to find and solve problems that are not immediately apparent.

Pay

Medical Equipment Repairers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Medical equipment repairers

$48,070

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$40,930

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for medical equipment repairers was $48,070 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,130, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,520.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for medical equipment repairers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $53,830
Professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers 50,010
Electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance 49,960
Ambulatory healthcare services 46,380
Rental and leasing services 33,880

Although medical equipment repairers usually work during the day, they are sometimes expected to be on call, including evenings and weekends. Most work full time, but some repairers have variable schedules.

Job Outlook

Medical Equipment Repairers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Other installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Medical equipment repairers

4%

Employment of medical equipment repairers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment is projected to grow slightly as these repairers will be needed to repair medical equipment in healthcare settings.

A significant factor in the greater demand for healthcare services is the aging population. As people age, they usually need more medical care. With the expected increase in the number of older adults and with people living longer, health professionals are prescribing more medical tests that use new, complex equipment. In addition, some medical facilities are increasingly purchasing refurbished medical equipment in order to save money. Medical equipment repairers will be needed to provide routine service to ensure the machines work properly.

Job Prospects

A combination of industry growth and the need to replace workers who leave the occupation each year should result in good job opportunities over the coming decade.

Candidates who have an associate’s degree in biomedical equipment technology or engineering and professional certification should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for medical equipment repairers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Medical equipment repairers 49-9062 47,100 49,100 4 2,000 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of medical equipment repairers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. See How to Become One $60,270
General maintenance and repair workers

General Maintenance and Repair Workers

General maintenance and repair workers fix and maintain machines, mechanical equipment, and buildings. They paint, repair flooring, and work on plumbing, electrical, and air-conditioning and heating systems, among other tasks. High school diploma or equivalent $36,940
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites. High school diploma or equivalent $49,100
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Medical laboratory technologists (commonly known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances. See How to Become One $50,930
Dental laboratory technicians

Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians

Dental and ophthalmic laboratory technicians and medical appliance technicians construct, fit, or repair medical appliances and devices, including dentures, eyeglasses, and prosthetics. High school diploma or equivalent $34,630

March 2018 – Entertainment and Sports Careers

Producers and Directors

Summary

producers and directors image

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions.
Quick Facts: Producers and Directors
2016 Median Pay $70,950 per year
$34.11 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 134,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 16,500

What Producers and Directors Do

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Work Environment

Producers and directors work under a lot of pressure, and many are under stress to finish their work on time.  Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular.

How to Become a Producer or Director

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience in motion picture, TV, or theater production, working as an actor, a film and video editor, or a cinematographer, or in another, related occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for producers and directors was $70,950 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for producers and directors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of producers and directors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about producers and directors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Producers and Directors Do

Producers and directors

Stage directors make sure the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance.

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties

Producers and directors typically do the following:

  • Select scripts or topics for a film, show, commercial, or play
  • Audition and select cast members and the film or stage crew
  • Approve the design and financial aspects of a production
  • Oversee the production process, including performances, lighting, and choreography
  • Oversee the postproduction process, including editing, special effects, music selection, and a performance’s overall tone
  • Ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget
  • Promote finished works or productions through interviews, advertisements, and film festivals

Producers make the business and financial decisions for a motion picture, TV show, commercial, or stage production. They raise money for the project and hire the director and crew. The crew may include set and costume designers, film and video editors, a musical director, a choreographer, and other workers. Some producers may assist in the selection of cast members. Producers set the budget and approve any major changes to the project. They make sure that the production is completed on time, and they are ultimately responsible for the final product.

Directors are responsible for the creative decisions of a production. They select cast members, conduct rehearsals, and direct the work of the cast and crew. During rehearsals, they work with the actors to help them portray their characters more accurately. For nonfiction video, such as documentaries or live broadcasts, directors choose topics or subjects to film. They investigate the topic and may interview relevant participants or experts on camera. Directors also work with cinematographers and other crew members to ensure that the final product matches the overall vision.

Directors work with set designers, costume designers, location scouts, and art directors to build a project’s set. During a film’s postproduction phase, they work closely with film editors and music supervisors to make sure that the final product comes out the way the producer and director envisioned. Stage directors, unlike television or film directors, who document their product with cameras, make sure that the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance. For more information, see the profiles on actorswriters and authorsfilm and video editors and camera operatorsdancers and choreographers, and multimedia artists and animators.

Large productions often have various producers who share responsibilities. For example, on a large movie set, an executive producer is in charge of the entire production and a line producer runs the day-to-day operations. A TV show may employ several assistant producers to whom the head or executive producer gives certain duties, such as supervising the costume and makeup teams.

Similarly, large productions usually employ several assistant directors, who help the director with smaller production tasks such as making set changes or notifying the performers when it is their time to go onstage. The specific responsibilities of assistant producers or directors vary with the size and type of production they work on.

Although directors are in charge of the creative aspects of a show, they ultimately answer to producers. Some directors also share producing duties for their own films.

Work Environment

Producers and directors

Producers and directors audition and select cast members.

Producers and directors held about 134,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of producers and directors were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 30%
Radio and television broadcasting 20
Self-employed workers 16
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 8
Advertising, public relations, and related services 6

Producers and directors work under a lot of pressure, and many are under constant stress to finish their work on time. Work assignments may be short, ranging from 1 day to a few months. They sometimes must work in unpleasant conditions, such as bad weather.

Theater directors and producers may travel with a touring show across the country, while those in film and television may work on location (a site away from the studio and where all or part of the filming occurs).

Work Schedules

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. About 1 out of 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek, because their schedules may change with each assignment or project.

How to Become a Producer or Director

Producers and directors

Producers and directors ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget.

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production, such as experience as an actor, a film and video editor, or a cinematographer.

Education

Producers and directors usually have a bachelor’s degree. Many students study film or cinema in programs at colleges and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process. As of 2017, the National Association of Schools of Theatre provided accreditation to more than 180 postsecondary institutions for their programs in theater arts.

Others producers and directors have degrees in writing, acting, journalism, or communications. Some producers earn a degree in business, arts management, or nonprofit management.

Many stage directors complete a degree in theater, and some go on to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, set design, and acting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Producers and directors might start out working in theatrical management offices as business or company managers. In television or film, they might start out as assistants or in other low-profile studio jobs. For more information, see the profiles on film and video editors and camera operators.

Advancement

As a producer’s or director’s reputation grows, he or she may work on larger, more expensive projects that attract more attention or publicity.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Producers and directors must coordinate the work of many different people to finish a production on time and within budget.

Creativity. Because a script can be interpreted in different ways, directors must decide how they want to interpret it and then how to represent the script’s ideas on the screen or stage.

Leadership skills. Directors instruct actors and help them portray their characters in a believable manner. They also supervise the crew, which is responsible for behind-the-scenes work.

Time-management skills. Producers must find and hire the best director and crew for the production. They make sure that all involved do their jobs effectively, keeping within a production schedule and a budget.

Pay

Producers and Directors

Median annual wages, May 2016

Producers and directors

$70,950

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$40,870

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for producers and directors was $70,950 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $189,870.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for producers and directors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services $93,450
Motion picture and video industries 83,760
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 60,820
Radio and television broadcasting 58,260

Some producers and directors earn a percentage of ticket sales. A few of the most successful producers and directors have extraordinarily high earnings, but most do not.

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. About 1 out of 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek, because their schedules may change with each assignment or project.

Job Outlook

Producers and Directors

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Producers and directors

12%

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Some job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.

Consumer demand for reality shows on television is likely to increase, so more producers and directors will be needed to create and oversee editing of these programs. In addition, the volume of TV shows is expected to grow as the number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, increases along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth should lead to more work opportunities for producers and directors.

Theater producers and directors who work in small- and medium-sized theaters may see slower job growth because many of those theaters have difficulty finding funding as fewer tickets are sold. Large theaters in big cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, which usually have more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Job Prospects

Producers and directors face intense competition for jobs because there are more people who want to work in this field than there are jobs available. In film, directors who have experience on film sets should have the best job prospects. Producers who have good business skills will likely have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for producers and directors, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Producers and directors 27-2012 134,700 151,200 12 16,500 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of producers and directors.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Actors

Actors

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Some college, no degree The annual wage is not available.
Art directors

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts. Bachelor’s degree $89,820
Dancers and choreographers

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz. See How to Become One The annual wage is not available.
Film and video editors and camera operators

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $59,040
Multimedia artists and animators

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media. Bachelor’s degree $65,300
Top executives

Top Executives

Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations. Bachelor’s degree $103,950
Writers and authors

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs. Bachelor’s degree $61,240

Athletes and Sports Competitors

Summary

athletes and sports competitors image

Athletes and sports competitors participate in officiated sports events to entertain spectators.
Quick Facts: Athletes and Sports Competitors
2016 Median Pay $47,710 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 11,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 900

What Athletes and Sports Competitors Do

Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sporting events to entertain spectators.

Work Environment

Athletes and sports competitors often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. They usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during their particular sports season. They frequently work outside, so they may be exposed to all weather conditions.

How to Become an Athlete or Sports Competitor

No formal educational credential is required for anyone to become an athlete or sports competitor. Athletes must have superior athletic talent and an extensive knowledge of their sport. They usually get such knowledge through years of practice and experience at lower levels of competition.

Pay

The median annual wage for athletes and sports competitors was $47,710 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of athletes and sports competitors is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Competition for most professional athlete jobs will remain very strong.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for athletes and sports competitors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of athletes and sports competitors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about athletes and sports competitors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Athletes and Sports Competitors Do

Athletes and sports competitors

Athletes and sports competitors practice under the direction of coaches, sports instructors, or athletic trainers.

Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sporting events to entertain spectators.

Duties

Athletes and sports competitors typically do the following:

  • Practice to develop and improve their skills
  • Maintain their sports equipment in good condition
  • Train, exercise, and follow special diets to stay in the best physical condition
  • Take instructions regarding strategy and tactics from coaches and other sports staff during games
  • Follow the rules of the sport during competitions and games
  • Assess their individual and team performance after each event and identify their strengths and weaknesses

Many people dream of becoming a paid professional athlete. Few people, however, beat the odds and make a full-time living from professional athletics—and when they do, professional athletes often have short careers with little job security.

When playing a game, athletes and sports competitors must understand the strategies involved while following the rules and regulations of the sport. The events in which athletes compete include team sports, such as baseball, softball, hockey, and soccer, and individual sports, such as golf, tennis, swimming, and skiing. The level of play varies greatly. Some athletes may compete in regional competitions, while other athletes compete in national or international events.

Being an athlete involves more than competing in athletic events. Athletes spend most days practicing their skills and improving teamwork under the guidance of a coach or a sports instructor. They review videotapes to critique and improve their own performance and technique. Athletes also must study their opponents’ tendencies and weaknesses so as to gain a competitive advantage.

Some athletes work regularly with fitness trainers and instructors to gain muscle and stamina and to prevent injury. Because of the physical demands required by many sports, career-ending injuries are always a risk. Even minor injuries may put a player at risk of replacement.

Because competition at all levels is extremely intense and job security is always in question, many athletes train throughout the year to maintain or improve their form and technique and remain in peak physical condition. Very little downtime from the sport exists at the professional level.

Work Environment

Athletes and sports competitors

Athletes and sports competitors are often exposed to all types of weather conditions.

Athletes and sports competitors held about 11,800 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of athletes and sports competitors were as follows:

Spectator sports 51%
Other amusement and recreation industries 26
Self-employed workers 15

Athletes and sports competitors who participate in outdoor competitions may be exposed to all weather conditions of the season in which they play their sport. In addition, many athletes must travel to sporting events. Such travel may include long bus rides or plane trips, and, in some cases, international travel.

Injuries and Illnesses

Athletes who play a contact sport, such as football or hockey, are highly susceptible to injuries. Because of this susceptibility, many athletes wear pads, gloves, goggles, helmets, and other protective gear to protect against injury.

Work Schedules

Athletes and sports competitors often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. During the sports season, they usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months as they practice, train, travel, and compete.

How to Become an Athlete or Sports Competitor

Athletes and sports competitors

Athletes and sports competitors gain experience by competing in high school, college, or club teams.

No formal educational credential is required for anyone to become an athlete or sports competitor. Athletes must have superior athletic talent and extensive knowledge of their sport. They usually get such knowledge through years of experience at lower levels of competition.

Education

Although athletes and sports competitors typically have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, no formal educational credential is required for them to enter the occupation. They must have extensive knowledge of the way the sport is played—especially its rules, regulations, and strategies.

Other Experience

Athletes typically learn the rules of the game and develop their skills by playing the sport at lower levels of competition. For most sports, athletes compete in high school and collegiate athletics or on club teams. In addition, athletes may improve their skills by taking private or group lessons or attending sports camps.

Training

It typically takes many years of practice and experience to become an athlete or sports competitor.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some sports and localities require athletes and sports competitors to be licensed or certified to practice. For example, race car drivers need to be licensed to compete in the various races. The governing body of the sport may revoke licenses and suspend participants who do not meet the required performance or training. In addition, athletes may have their licenses or certification suspended for inappropriate activity.

Advancement

Turning professional is often the biggest advancement that aspiring athletes can make in their careers. They often begin to compete immediately, although some may spend more time on the bench (as a reserve) to gain experience. In some sports, such as baseball, athletes may begin their professional career on a minor league team before moving up to the major leagues. Professional athletes generally advance in their sport by displaying superior performance and receiving accolades; in turn, they earn a higher salary. Others may receive endorsements from companies and brands.

Important Qualities

Athleticism. Nearly all athletes and sports competitors must possess superior athletic ability to be able to compete successfully against opponents.

Concentration. Athletes and sports competitors must be extremely focused when competing and must block out distractions from fans and opponents. The difference between winning and losing can sometimes be a result of a momentary lapse in concentration.

Decisionmaking skills. Athletes and sports competitors often must make split-second decisions. Quarterbacks, for example, usually have only seconds to decide whether to pass the football or not.

Dedication. Athletes and sports competitors must practice regularly to develop their skills and improve or maintain their physical conditioning. It often takes years to become successful, so athletes must be dedicated to their sport.

Hand–eye coordination. In many sports, including tennis and baseball, the need to gauge and strike a fast-moving ball is highly dependent on the athlete’s hand–eye coordination.

Stamina. Endurance can benefit athletes and sports competitors, particularly those who participate in long-lasting sports competitions, such as marathons.

Teamwork. Because many athletes compete in a team sport, such as hockey or soccer, the ability to work with teammates as a cohesive unit is important for success.

Many professional athletes are also required to pass drug tests.

Pay

Athletes and Sports Competitors

Median annual wages, May 2016

Athletes and sports competitors

$47,710

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$40,870

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for athletes and sports competitors was $47,710 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for athletes and sports competitors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Spectator sports $51,190
Other amusement and recreation industries 42,810

Athletes and sports competitors often work irregular schedules, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. During the sports season, they usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months as they practice, train, travel, and compete.

Job Outlook

Athletes and Sports Competitors

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

10%

Athletes and sports competitors

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

Employment of athletes and sports competitors is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be primarily due to population growth and increasing public interest in professional sports.

Growth and geographic shifts in population may lead to an increase in the number of professional sports teams. Some professional sports leagues may expand to new cities in the United States, creating new teams and new job opportunities for individuals looking to become professional athletes.

However, expansion is rare in professional sports leagues. Creating new teams is very costly and risky, requiring strong support from fans and both local and state government. When leagues do expand, they typically create only one or two teams at a time. Conversely, some teams and sports leagues may disband altogether because of a lack of interest in the sport.

Instead of disbanding, some teams simply relocate to another city that has a greater interest in the sport and a larger fan base. In this case, no new jobs for athletes would be created.

Job Prospects

Competition for professional athlete jobs will continue to be extremely intense. A very small number of high school or college athletes become professional athletes.

Most professional athletes can deliver peak performances for only a short time. Careers last just a few years because of debilitating injuries or retirements. Yearly replacement needs for these jobs is high and may create some job opportunities.

However, the talented young men and women who dream of becoming sports superstars greatly outnumber the number of openings.

Employment projections data for athletes and sports competitors, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Athletes and sports competitors 27-2021 11,800 12,700 7 900 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of athletes and sports competitors.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Coaches and scouts

Coaches and Scouts

Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players and evaluate their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches also are involved in scouting. Bachelor’s degree $31,460
Fitness trainers and instructors

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular exercises (exercises for the heart and blood circulation), strength training, and stretching. They work with people of all ages and skill levels. High school diploma or equivalent $38,160
Recreation workers

Recreation Workers

Recreation workers design and lead activities to help people stay active, improve fitness, and have fun. They work with groups in summer camps, fitness and recreational sports centers, nursing care facilities, nature parks, and other settings. They may lead such activities as arts and crafts, sports, music, dramatics, or games. High school diploma or equivalent $23,870
Umpires, referees, and other sports officials

Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play. They detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game. High school diploma or equivalent $25,660

Coaches and Scouts

Summary

coaches and scouts image

Coaches instruct amateur and professional athletes, teaching them the fundamental skills of sports.
Quick Facts: Coaches and Scouts
2016 Median Pay $31,460 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 276,100
Job Outlook, 2016-26 13% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 35,700

What Coaches and Scouts Do

Coaches teach amateur or professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players and evaluate their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches also are involved in scouting.

Work Environment

Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Full-time coaches usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sports season. Coaches travel frequently to sporting events. Scouts may be required to travel more extensively when searching for talented athletes.

How to Become a Coach or Scout

Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They also must have extensive knowledge of the game. Coaches typically gain this knowledge through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. Although previous playing experience may be beneficial, it is typically not required for most scouting jobs.

Pay

The median annual wage for coaches and scouts was $31,460 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing participation in high school and college sports may boost demand for coaches and scouts.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for coaches and scouts.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of coaches and scouts with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about coaches and scouts by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Coaches and Scouts Do

Coaches and scouts

Coaches and scouts analyze the strengths and weaknesses of individual athletes and opposing teams.

Coaches teach amateur and professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport. Scouts look for new players, evaluating their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur, or professional level. Many coaches also are involved in scouting potential athletes.

Duties

Coaches typically do the following:

  • Plan, organize, and conduct practice sessions
  • Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of individual athletes and opposing teams
  • Plan strategies and choose team members for each game
  • Provide direction, encouragement, and motivation to prepare athletes for games
  • Call plays and make decisions about strategy and player substitutions during games
  • Plan and direct physical conditioning programs that enable athletes to achieve maximum performance
  • Instruct athletes on proper techniques, game strategies, sportsmanship, and the rules of the sport
  • Keep records of athletes’ and opponents’ performances
  • Identify and recruit potential athletes
  • Arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players

Coaches teach professional and amateur athletes the fundamental skills of individual and team sports. They hold training and practice sessions to improve the athletes’ form, technique, skills, and stamina. Along with refining athletes’ individual skills, coaches are responsible for instilling in their players the importance of good sportsmanship, a competitive spirit, and teamwork.

Many coaches evaluate their opponents to determine game strategies and to establish particular plays to practice. During competition, coaches call specific plays intended to surprise or overpower the opponent, and they may substitute players to achieve optimum team chemistry and success.

Many high school coaches are primarily academic teachers or other school administrators who supplement their income by coaching part time.

Coaches may assign specific drills and correct athletes’ techniques. They may also spend their time working one-on-one with athletes, designing customized training programs for each individual. Coaches may specialize in teaching the skills of an individual sport, such as tennis, golf, or ice skating. Some coaches, such as baseball coaches, may teach individual athletes involved in team sports.

Scouts typically do the following:

  • Read newspapers and other news sources to find athletes to consider
  • Attend games, view videotapes of the athletes’ performances, and study statistics about the athletes to determine their talent and potential
  • Talk to the athlete and the coaches to see if the athlete has what it takes to succeed
  • Report to the coach, manager, or owner of the team for which he or she is scouting
  • Arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players

Scouts evaluate the skills of both amateur and professional athletes. Scouts seek out top athletic candidates for colleges or professional teams and evaluate their likelihood of success at a higher competitive level.

Work Environment

Coaches and scouts

Coaches provide direction, encouragement, and motivation to athletes.

Coaches and scouts held about 276,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of coaches and scouts were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 21%
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 21
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 19
Self-employed workers 10

Some scouts work for organizations that deal directly with high school athletes. These scouts collect information on the athlete and help sell his or her talents to potential colleges.

At the college level, scouts typically work for scouting organizations or are self-employed. In either case, they help colleges recruit the best high school athletes.

Scouts who work at the professional level are typically employed by the team or organization directly.

Those people who coach and scout for outdoor sports may be exposed to all weather conditions of the season. In addition, they must travel often to attend sporting events. This is particularly true for those in professional sports.

Work Schedules

Work hours can vary for coaches and scouts and may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Professional or college coaches may work additional hours during the sport’s season.

How to Become a Coach or Scout

Coaches and scouts

Coaches and scouts must have overall knowledge of the game or sport.

Coaches and scouts typically need a bachelor’s degree. They also must have extensive knowledge of the sport. Coaches typically gain this knowledge through their own experiences playing the sport at some level. Although previous playing experience may be beneficial, it is not required for most scouting jobs.

Education

College and professional coaches usually must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in any subject. However, some coaches may decide to study exercise and sports science, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and fitness, physical education, or sports medicine.

High schools typically hire teachers or administrators at the school for most coaching jobs. If no suitable teacher is found, schools hire a qualified candidate from outside the school. For more information on education requirements for teachers, see the profile on high school teachers.

Like coaches, scouts must typically have a bachelor’s degree. Some scouts decide to get a degree in business, marketing, sales, or sports management.

Other Experience

College and professional coaching jobs typically require experience playing the sport at some level.

Scouting jobs typically do not require experience playing a sport at the college or professional level, but doing so can be beneficial. Employers look for applicants with a passion for sports and an ability to spot young players who have exceptional athletic ability and skills.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most state high school athletic associations require coaches to be certified or at least complete mandatory education courses.

Certification often requires coaches to be a minimum age (at least 18 years old) and be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Some states also require coaches to attend classes related to sports safety and coaching fundamentals prior to becoming certified. For information about specific state coaching requirements, contact the state’s high school athletic association or visit the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Although most public high school coaches need to meet these state requirements in order to become a coach, certification may not be required for coaching jobs in private schools.

Some schools may require coaches to have a teaching license and complete a background check.

Certification requirements for college coaching positions also vary.

Additional certification may be highly desirable or even required for someone to coach individual sports such as tennis or golf. There are many certifying organizations specific to the various sports, and their requirements vary.

Part-time workers and those in smaller facilities or youth leagues are less likely to need formal education or training and may not need certification.

Advancement

To reach the rank of a professional coach, a candidate usually needs years of coaching experience and a winning record at a college. Some coaches may not have previous coaching experience but are nevertheless hired at the professional level because of their success as an athlete in their sport.

Some college coaches begin their careers as graduate assistants or assistant coaches in order to gain the knowledge and experience needed to become a head coach. Large schools and colleges that compete at the highest levels require a head coach who has had substantial experience at another school or as an assistant coach.

Other college coaches may start out as high school coaches before moving up to the collegiate level.

Scouts may begin working as talent spotters in a particular area or region. They typically advance to become supervising scouts responsible for a whole territory or region.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Because coaches instruct, organize, and motivate athletes, they must have excellent communication skills. They must communicate proper techniques, strategies, and rules of the sport effectively enough that every player on the team understands what he or she has been told.

Decisionmaking skills. Coaches must choose the appropriate players to use at a given position at a given time during a game and must know the proper time to utilize game-managing tools such as timeouts. Coaches and scouts must also be very selective when recruiting players.

Dedication. Coaches must attend daily practices and assist their team and individual athletes in improving their skills and physical conditioning. Coaches must be dedicated to their sport, as it often takes years to become successful.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to relate to athletes helps coaches and scouts foster positive relationships with their current players and recruit potential players.

Leadership skills. Coaches must demonstrate good leadership skills to get the most out of athletes. They must be able to motivate, develop, and direct young athletes.

Resourcefulness. Coaches must find and develop a game plan and strategy that yields the best chances for winning. Coaches often need to create original plays or formations that provide a competitive advantage and confuse opponents.

Pay

Coaches and Scouts

Median annual wages, May 2016

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$40,870

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Coaches and scouts

$31,460

The median annual wage for coaches and scouts was $31,460 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $71,940.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for coaches and scouts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $43,490
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 34,590
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 26,110

Coaches and scouts often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Professional or college coaches usually work more than 40 hours a week for several months during the sport’s season, if not most of the year. Many high school coaches work part time and may have other jobs aside from coaching.

Job Outlook

Coaches and Scouts

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Coaches and scouts

13%

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Employment of coaches and scouts is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Rising participation in high school and college sports should increase demand for coaches and scouts.

High school enrollment is projected to increase over the next decade, resulting in a rise in the number of student athletes. As schools offer more athletic programs and as more students participate in sports, the demand for coaches may increase.

Participation in college sports also is projected to increase over the next decade, particularly at smaller colleges and in women’s sports. Many small, Division III colleges are expanding their sports programs and adding new teams as a way to help promote the school and recruit potential students. However, new rules allowing an increase in scholarship payments to student athletes may result in funding cuts to smaller collegiate sports programs and the accompanying coaching staffs.

The growing interest in college and professional sports also will increase demand for scouts. Colleges must attract the best athletes to remain competitive. Successful teams help colleges enhance their reputation, recruit future students, and raise donations from alumni. Colleges, therefore, will increasingly rely on scouts to recruit the best possible high school athletes. In addition, as college tuition increases and scholarships become more competitive, high school athletes will hire scouts directly, in an effort to increase the athletes’ chances of receiving a college scholarship.

However, funding for athletic programs at schools often is cut first when budgets become tight. For example, some high schools within the same school district may combine their sports programs in an effort to cut costs. Still, the popularity of team sports often enables shortfalls to be offset with help from fundraisers, booster clubs, and parents.

Job Prospects

Strong competition is expected for higher paying jobs at the college level, and competition will be even greater for jobs in professional sports.

Job prospects at the high school level should be good, but coaching jobs typically go to those teaching in the school. Candidates who have a degree or are state certified to teach academic subjects, therefore, should have the best prospects for getting coaching jobs at high schools. The need to replace the number of high school coaches who change occupations or leave the labor force also will provide some jobs.

Coaches in girls’ and women’s sports may have better job opportunities because of a growing number of participants and leagues.

Competition is also likely to be strong for jobs as scouts, particularly for professional teams.

Employment projections data for coaches and scouts, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Coaches and scouts 27-2022 276,100 311,700 13 35,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of coaches and scouts.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Athletes and sports competitors

Athletes and Sports Competitors

Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sporting events to entertain spectators. No formal educational credential $47,710
Athletic trainers

Athletic Trainers

Athletic trainers specialize in preventing, diagnosing, and treating muscle and bone injuries and illnesses. Bachelor’s degree $45,630
Dietitians and nutritionists

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Bachelor’s degree $58,920
Fitness trainers and instructors

Fitness Trainers and Instructors

Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular exercises (exercises for the heart and blood circulation), strength training, and stretching. They work with people of all ages and skill levels. High school diploma or equivalent $38,160
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market. Bachelor’s degree $58,030
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling. Bachelor’s degree $55,490
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school. Bachelor’s degree $56,720
Umpires, referees, and other sports officials

Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play. They detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game. High school diploma or equivalent $25,660

Dancers and Choreographers

Summary

dancers and choreographers image

There are many different types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.
Quick Facts: Dancers and Choreographers
2016 Median Pay $16.85 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 20,400
Job Outlook, 2016-26 4% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 800

What Dancers and Choreographers Do

Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Work Environment

About one-third of dancers worked in performing arts companies in 2016, and approximately 1 in 4 were self-employed. About one-half of choreographers worked in dance schools in 2016, and approximately 1 in 4 choreographers were self-employed.

How to Become a Dancer or Choreographer

Education and training requirements vary with the type of dancer; however, all dancers need many years of formal training. Nearly all choreographers began their careers as dancers.

Pay

The median hourly wage for choreographers was $23.19 in May 2016.

The median hourly wage for dancers was $13.74 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of dancers and choreographers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. A continued interest in dance and in pop culture may provide opportunities in dance schools and in venues outside of dance companies. However, dancers and choreographers face intense competition, and the number of applicants is expected to vastly exceed the number of job openings.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for dancers and choreographers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of dancers and choreographers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about dancers and choreographers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Dancers and Choreographers Do

Dancers and choreographers

Some dancers perform in theater productions.

Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

Duties

Dancers typically do the following:

  • Audition for a part in a show or for a job within a dance company
  • Learn complex dance movements that entertain an audience
  • Rehearse several hours each day to prepare for their performance
  • Study new and emerging types of dance
  • Work closely with instructors, choreographers, or other dancers to interpret or modify their routines
  • Attend promotional events, such as photography sessions, for the production in which they are appearing

Dancers spend years learning dances and perfecting their skills. They usually perform as part of a group and know a variety of dance styles, including ballet, tap, and modern dance. In addition to traditional performances in front of a live audience, many perform on TV, in videos on the Internet, and in music videos, in which they also may sing or act. Many dancers perform in shows at casinos, in theme parks, and on cruise ships.

Choreographers typically do the following:

  • Put together moves in a sequence to create new dances or interpretations of existing dances
  • Choose the music that will accompany a dance routine
  • Audition dancers for a role in a show or within a dance company
  • Assist with costume design, lighting, and other artistic aspects of a show
  • Teach complex dance movements
  • Study new and emerging types of dance to design more creative dance routines
  • Help with the administrative duties of a dance company, such as budgeting

Choreographers create original dances and develop new interpretations of existing dances. They work in dance schools, theaters, dance companies, and movie studios. During rehearsals, they typically demonstrate dance moves, to instruct dancers in the proper technique. Many choreographers also perform the dance routines they create. Some choreographers work with performers who are not trained dancers. For example, the complex martial arts scenes performed by actors in movies are arranged by choreographers who specialize in martial arts.

Some dancers and choreographers hold other jobs between roles to make a living.

Work Environment

Dancers and choreographers

Dancers may rehearse several hours each day to prepare for their performance.

Choreographers held about 6,900 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of choreographers were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 52%
Self-employed workers 26
Performing arts companies 16

Dancers held about 13,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of dancers were as follows:

Performing arts companies 30%
Self-employed workers 27
Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) 13
Educational services; state, local, and private 8
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries 7

Injuries and Illnesses

Dance takes a toll on a person’s body, so on-the-job injuries are common in dancers. Many dancers stop performing by the time they reach their late thirties because of the physical demands of their work. Nonperforming dancers may continue to work as choreographers, directors, or dance teachers.

Work Schedules

Schedules for dancers and choreographers vary with where they work. During tours, dancers and choreographers have long workdays, rehearsing most of the day and performing at night.

Choreographers who work in dance schools may have a standard workweek when they are instructing students. They also spend hours working independently to create new dance routines.

How to Become a Dancer or Choreographer

Dancers and choreographers

Most dancers begin training at a young age.

Education and training requirements vary with the type of dancer; however, all dancers need many years of formal training. Nearly all choreographers began their careers as dancers.

Education and Training

Many dancers begin training when they are young and continue to learn throughout their careers. Ballet dancers begin training the earliest, usually between the ages of 5 and 8 for girls and a few years later for boys. Their training becomes more serious as they enter their teens, and most ballet dancers begin their professional careers by the time they are 18.

Leading professional dance companies sometimes have intensive summer training programs from which they might select candidates for admission to their regular full-time training programs.

Modern dancers normally begin formal training while they are in high school. They attend afterschool dance programs and summer training programs to prepare for their career or for a college dance program.

Some dancers and choreographers pursue postsecondary education. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in dance, typically through departments of theater or fine arts. As of March 2016, there were about 75 dance programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance. Most programs include coursework in a variety of dance styles, including modern dance, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. Most entrants into college dance programs have previous formal training.

Some choreographers work as dance teachers. Teaching dance in a college, high school, or elementary school requires a college degree. Some dance studios and conservatories prefer instructors who have a degree; however, they may accept previous work in lieu of a degree.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Nearly all choreographers begin their careers as dancers. While working as dancers, they study different types of dance and learn how to choreograph routines.

Advancement

Some dancers take on more responsibility if they are promoted to dance captain in musical theater companies. They lead rehearsals or work with less experienced dancers when the choreographer is not present.

Some dancers become choreographers. Dancers and choreographers also may become theater, film, or television producers and directors.

Important Qualities

Athleticism. Successful dancers must have excellent balance, physical strength, and physical dexterity so that they can move their bodies without falling or losing their sense of rhythm.

Creativity. Dancers need artistic ability and creativity to express ideas through movement. Choreographers also must have artistic ability and innovative ideas, to create new and interesting dance routines.

Leadership skills. Choreographers must be able to direct a group of dancers to perform the routines that they have created.

Persistence. Dancers must commit to years of intense practice. They need to be able to accept rejection after auditions and to continue to practice for future performances. Choreographers must keep studying and creating new routines.

Physical stamina. Dancers are often physically active for long periods, so they must be able to rehearse for many hours without getting tired.

Teamwork. Most dance routines involve a group or pairs, so dancers must be able to work together to be successful.

Pay

Dancers and Choreographers

Median hourly wages, May 2016

Choreographers

$23.19

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$19.65

Total, all occupations

$17.81

Dancers and choreographers

$16.85

Dancers

$13.74

The median hourly wage for choreographers was $23.19 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.35, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $45.39.

The median hourly wage for dancers was $13.74 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.69, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $33.34.

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for choreographers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $23.92
Performing arts companies 20.70

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for dancers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $22.41
Performing arts companies 16.53
Amusement, gambling, and recreation industries 15.26
Drinking places (alcoholic beverages) 9.22

Schedules for dancers and choreographers vary with where they work. During tours, dancers and choreographers have long workdays, rehearsing most of the day and performing at night.

Choreographers who work in dance schools may have a standard workweek when they are instructing students. They also spend hours working independently to create new dance routines.

Job Outlook

Dancers and Choreographers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Dancers

5%

Dancers and choreographers

4%

Choreographers

3%

Employment of dancers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of choreographers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations.

Positions in large dance companies are competitive, so dancers may find positions in smaller companies or in companies that stage professional dance competitions. There may be better opportunities for dancers and choreographers in large cities, such as New York and Las Vegas, or for dancers who join a traveling company.

A continued interest in dance and in pop culture may provide opportunities in venues outside of dance companies, such as TV or movies, casinos, and theme parks, or as judges in dance competitions. Many dancers and choreographers, nonetheless, struggle to find opportunities to express themselves; dance companies rely on word of mouth, grants, and public funding.

Job Prospects

Dancers and choreographers face intense competition, and the number of applicants is expected to vastly exceed the number of job openings.

Dancers who attend schools or conservatories associated with a dance company may have a better chance of finding work at that company than other dancers have.

Employment projections data for dancers and choreographers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Dancers and choreographers 27-2030 20,400 21,200 4 800 employment projections excel document xlsx

Dancers

27-2031 13,500 14,100 5 600 employment projections excel document xlsx

Choreographers

27-2032 6,900 7,100 3 200 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of dancers and choreographers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Actors

Actors

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Some college, no degree The annual wage is not available.
Art directors

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts. Bachelor’s degree $89,820
Music directors and composers

Music Directors and Composers

Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Bachelor’s degree $50,110
Musicians and singers

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. No formal educational credential The annual wage is not available.
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. See How to Become One $75,430
Producers and directors

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $70,950

Musicians and Singers

Summary

musicians and singers image

Musicians must practice playing instruments to improve their technique.
Quick Facts: Musicians and Singers
2016 Median Pay $25.14 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 172,400
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 10,400

What Musicians and Singers Do

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios.

Work Environment

Musicians and singers often perform in settings such as concert halls, arenas, and clubs.

How to Become a Musician or Singer

There are no postsecondary education requirements for musicians or singers interested in performing popular music. However, many performers of classical music and opera have at least a bachelor’s degree. Musicians and singers need extensive training and regular practice to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to interpret music at a professional level.

Pay

The median hourly wage for musicians and singers was $25.14 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of musicians and singers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth will be due to increases in demand for musical performances. However, there will be tough competition for jobs because of the large number of people who are interested in becoming musicians and singers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for musicians and singers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of musicians and singers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about musicians and singers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Musicians and Singers Do

Musicians and singers

Musicians in bands may play clubs and bars while they try to build enough fans to get a recording contract or representation by an agent.

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. They perform in a variety of styles, such as classical, jazz, opera, hip-hop, and rock.

Duties

Musicians and singers typically do the following:

  • Perform music for live audiences and recordings
  • Audition for positions in orchestras, choruses, bands, and other types of music groups
  • Practice playing instruments or singing to improve their technique
  • Rehearse to prepare for performances
  • Find and book locations for performances or concerts
  • Travel, sometimes great distances, to performance venues
  • Promote their careers by maintaining a website or social media presence or by doing photo shoots and interviews

Musicians play one or more instruments. To make themselves more marketable, many musicians become proficient in multiple musical instruments or styles.

Musicians play solo or in bands, orchestras, or small groups. Those in bands may play at weddings, private parties, clubs, or bars while they try to build enough fans to get a recording contract or representation by an agent. Some musicians work as part of a large group of musicians, such as an orchestra, whose members must work and practice together. A few musicians become section leaders, who may be responsible for assigning parts to other musicians or for leading rehearsals.

Others musicians are session musicians, specializing in playing backup for a singer or band leader during recording sessions and live performances.

Singers perform vocal music in a variety of styles. Some specialize in a particular vocal style, such as opera or jazz; others perform in a variety of musical genres. Singers, particularly those who specialize in opera or classical music, may perform in different languages, such as French or Italian. Opera and musical theater singers act out a story by singing instead of speaking the dialogue. Some singers become background singers, providing vocals to harmonize with or support a lead singer.

In some cases, musicians and singers write their own music to record and perform. For more information about careers in songwriting, see the profile on music directors and composers.

Some musicians and singers give private music lessons to children and adults. Others with a background in music may teach music in public and private schools, but they typically need a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. For more information, see the profiles on kindergarten and elementary school teachersmiddle school teachers, and high school teachers.

Work Environment

Musicians and singers

Some musicians and singers spend time in recording studios.

Musicians and singers held about 172,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of musicians and singers were as follows:

Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 47%
Self-employed workers 35
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 13
Educational services; state, local, and private 3

Musicians and singers perform in settings such as concert halls, arenas, and clubs. Musicians and singers who give recitals or perform in nightclubs travel frequently and may tour nationally or internationally. Some spend time in recording studios. There are many jobs in cities that have a high concentration of entertainment activities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Nashville.

Work Schedules

Rehearsals and recording sessions are commonly held during business hours, but live performances are most often at night and on weekends.

Many musicians and singers find only part-time or intermittent work and may have long periods of unemployment between jobs. The stress of constantly looking for work leads many to accept permanent full-time jobs in other occupations while working part time as a musician or singer.

How to Become a Musician or Singer

Musicians and singers

To work as a classical musician or singer, a bachelor’s degree in music theory or music performance is generally required.

There are no postsecondary education requirements for musicians or singers interested in performing popular music. However, many performers of classical music and opera have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Education

There are no postsecondary education requirements for those interested in performing popular music. Many musicians and singers of classical music and opera have a bachelor’s degree in music theory or performance. To be accepted into one of these programs, applicants are typically required to submit recordings or to audition in person and sometimes must do both.

Undergraduate music programs teach students about music history and styles. In addition, they teach methods for improving instrumental and vocal techniques and musical expression. Undergraduate voice programs also teach courses in diction. Such courses help students perform opera in foreign languages.

Some musicians and singers choose to continue their education by pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts or music.

Training

Musicians and singers need extensive training and regular practice to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to interpret music at a professional level. They typically begin singing or learning to play an instrument by taking lessons and classes when they are at a young age. In addition, they must practice often to develop their talent and technique.

Musicians and singers interested in performing classical music may seek further training through music camps and fellowships. These programs provide participants with classes, lessons, and performance opportunities.

Important Qualities

Dedication. Auditioning for jobs can be a frustrating process because it may take many different auditions to get hired. Musicians and singers need determination and dedication to continue to audition after receiving many rejections.

Discipline. Talent is not enough for most musicians and singers to find employment in this field. They must constantly practice and rehearse to improve their technique, style, and performance.

Interpersonal skills. Musicians and singers need to work well with a variety of people, such as agents, music producers, conductors, and other musicians. Good people skills are helpful in building good working relationships.

Musical talent. Professional musicians or singers must have superior musical abilities.

Physical stamina. Musicians and singers who play in concerts or in nightclubs, and those who tour, must be able to endure frequent travel and irregular performance schedules.

Promotional skills. Musicians and singers need to promote their performances through local communities, word of mouth, and social media. Good self-promotional skills are helpful in building a fan base.

Advancement

As with other occupations in which people perform, advancement for musicians and singers means becoming better known, finding work more easily, and earning more money for each performance. Successful musicians and singers often rely on agents or managers to find them jobs, negotiate contracts, and develop their careers. Some musicians and singers advance to leading musical groups or to writing complex music such as symphonies. For more information, see the profile on music directors and composers.

Pay

Musicians and Singers

Median hourly wages, May 2016

Musicians and singers

$25.14

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$19.65

Total, all occupations

$17.81

The median hourly wage for musicians and singers was $25.14 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.33, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $68.13.

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for musicians and singers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries $26.84
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 23.01
Educational services; state, local, and private 22.71

Rehearsals and recording sessions are commonly held during business hours, but live performances are most often at night and on weekends.

Many musicians and singers find only part-time or intermittent work and may have long periods of unemployment between jobs. The stress of constantly looking for work leads many to accept permanent full-time jobs in other occupations while working part time as a musician or singer.

Job Outlook

Musicians and Singers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Musicians and singers

6%

Employment of musicians and singers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth will be attributed to increases in demand for musical performances.

Digital downloads and streaming platforms make it easier for fans to listen to recordings and view performances. Easier access to recordings gives musicians more publicity and grows interest in their work, and concertgoers may become interested in seeing them perform live. Moreover, some musicians and singers license their music for use in advertisements or for other commercial purposes, creating more exposure and revenue opportunities.

There may be some additional demand for musicians to serve as session musicians and backup artists for recordings and to go on tour. Singers may be needed to sing backup and to make recordings for commercials, films, and television.

However, employment growth will likely be limited in orchestras, opera companies, and other musical groups because they can have difficulty getting funding. Some musicians and singers work for nonprofit organizations that rely on donations, government funding, and corporate sponsorships, in addition to ticket sales, to fund their work. During economic downturns, these organizations may have trouble finding enough funding to cover their expenses.

Job Prospects

There will be tough competition for jobs because of the large number of people who are interested in becoming musicians and singers. Many musicians and singers experience periods of unemployment, and there will likely be considerable competition for full-time positions.

Musicians and singers with exceptional musical talent and dedication should have the best opportunities.

Employment projections data for musicians and singers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Musicians and singers 27-2042 172,400 182,800 6 10,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of musicians and singers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Actors

Actors

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Some college, no degree The annual wage is not available.
Dancers and choreographers

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers use dance performances to express ideas and stories. There are many types of dance, such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz. See How to Become One The annual wage is not available.
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market. Bachelor’s degree $58,030
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling. Bachelor’s degree $55,490
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school. Bachelor’s degree $56,720
Music directors and composers

Music Directors and Composers

Music directors, also called conductors, lead orchestras and other musical groups during performances and recording sessions. Composers write and arrange original music in a variety of musical styles. Bachelor’s degree $50,110
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. See How to Become One $75,430
Producers and directors

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $70,950

February 2018 – Community and Social Service Occupations

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Summary

health educators image

Health educators and community health workers teach people about behaviors that promote wellness.
Quick Facts: Health Educators and Community Health Workers
2016 Median Pay $44,390 per year
$21.34 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 118,500
Job Outlook, 2016-26 16% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 19,200

What Health Educators and Community Health Workers Do

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities.

Work Environment

Health educators and community health workers work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nonprofit organizations, government, doctors’ offices, private businesses, and colleges. They generally work full time.

How to Become a Health Educator or Community Health Worker

Health educators need at least bachelor’s degree. Many employers require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. Community health workers typically need to have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some states have certification programs for community health workers.

Pay

The median annual wage for community health workers was $37,330 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for health educators was $53,070 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people healthy behaviors and explaining how to use available healthcare services.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for health educators and community health workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of health educators and community health workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about health educators and community health workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Health Educators and Community Health Workers Do

Health educators

Health educators and community health workers educate people about the availability of healthcare services.

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers provide a link between the community and healthcare professionals. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. They collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities. Although the two occupations often work together, responsibilities of health educators and community health workers are distinct.

Duties

Health educators typically do the following:

  • Assess the health needs of the people and communities they serve
  • Develop programs, materials, and events to teach people about health topics
  • Teach people how to manage existing health conditions
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of programs and educational materials
  • Help people find health services or information
  • Provide training programs for community health workers or other health professionals
  • Supervise staff who implement health education programs
  • Collect and analyze data to learn about a particular community and improve programs and services
  • Advocate for improved health resources and policies that promote health

Community health workers typically do the following:

  • Discuss health concerns with community members
  • Educate people about the importance and availability of healthcare services, such as cancer screenings
  • Collect data
  • Report findings to health educators and other healthcare providers
  • Provide informal counseling and social support
  • Conduct outreach programs
  • Facilitate access to the healthcare services
  • Advocate for individual and community needs

Health educators, also known as health education specialists, have different duties depending on their work setting. Most work in healthcare facilities, colleges, public health departments, nonprofits, and private businesses. People who teach health classes in middle and high schools are considered teachers. For more information, see the profiles on middle school teachers and high school teachers.

The following are descriptions of duties for health educators, by work setting:

  • In healthcare facilities, health educators may work one-on-one with patients or with their families. They may be called patient navigators because they help consumers understand their health insurance options and direct people to outside resources, such as support groups or home health agencies. They teach patients about their diagnoses and about any necessary treatments or procedures. They lead hospital efforts in developing and administering surveys to identify major health issues and concerns of the surrounding communities and developing programs to meet those needs. Health educators also help organize health screenings, such as blood pressure checks, and classes on topics such as installing a car seat correctly. They also create programs to train medical staff to interact more effectively with patients.
  • In colleges, health educators create programs and materials on topics that affect young adults, such as smoking and alcohol use. They may train students to be peer educators and supervise the students’ delivery of health information in person or through social media. Health educators also advocate for campus wide policies to promote health.
  • In public health departments, health educators administer public health campaigns on topics such as emergency preparedness, immunizations, proper nutrition, or stress management. They develop materials to be used by other public health officials. During emergencies, they may provide safety information to the public and the media. Some health educators work with other professionals to create public policies that support healthy behaviors and environments. They may also oversee grants and grant-funded programs to improve the health of the public. Some participate in statewide and local committees dealing with topics such as aging.
  • In nonprofits, health educators create programs and materials about health issues faced by the community that they serve. They help organizations obtain funding and other resources. They educate policymakers about ways to improve public health and work on securing grant funding for programs to promote health and disease awareness. Many nonprofits focus on a particular disease or audience, so health educators in these organizations limit programs to that specific topic or audience.
  • In private businesses, health educators identify common health problems among employees and create programs to improve health. They work to develop incentives for employees to adopt healthy behaviors, such as losing weight or controlling cholesterol. Health educators recommend changes in the workplace to improve employee health, such as creating smoke-free areas.

Community health workers have an in-depth knowledge of the communities they serve. Within their community, they identify health-related issues, collect data, and discuss health concerns with the people they serve. For example, they may help eligible residents of a neighborhood enroll in programs such as Medicaid or Medicare and explain the benefits that these programs offer. Community health workers address any barriers to care and provide referrals for such needs as food, housing, education, and mental health services

Community health workers share information with health educators and healthcare providers so that health educators can create new programs or adjust existing programs or events to better suit the needs of the community. Community health workers also advocate for the health needs of community members. In addition, they conduct outreach to engage community residents, assist residents with health system navigation, and to improve care coordination.

Work Environment

Health educators

Health educators often work in hospitals, where they help patients understand and adjust to their diagnosis.

Community health workers held about 57,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of community health workers were as follows:

Individual and family services 18%
Government 16
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 14
Hospitals; state, local, and private 10
Outpatient care centers 10

Health educators held about 61,000 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of health educators were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 23%
Government 22
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 9
Outpatient care centers 8
Individual and family services 7

Although most health educators work in offices, they may spend a lot of time away from the office to carry out programs or attend meetings.

Community health workers may spend much of their time in the field, communicating with community members, holding events, and collecting data.

Work Schedules

Most health educators and community health workers work full time. They may need to work nights and weekends to attend programs or meetings.

How to Become a Health Educator or Community Health Worker

Health educators

Health educators need at least a bachelor’s degree.

Health educators need at least bachelor’s degree. Some employers require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential.

Community health workers need at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some states have certification programs for community health workers.

Education

Health educators need at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or health promotion. Students learn theories and methods of health behavior and health education and gain the knowledge and skills they will need to develop health education materials and programs. Most programs include an internship.

Some health educator positions require candidates to have a master’s or doctoral degree. Graduate programs are commonly in community health education, school health education, public health education, or health promotion. A variety of undergraduate majors may be acceptable for entry to a master’s degree program.

Community health workers need at least a high school diploma, although some jobs may require some postsecondary education. Education programs may lead to a 1-year certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree and cover topics such as wellness, ethics, and cultural awareness.

Training

Community health workers typically complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Training often covers core competencies, such as communication or outreach skills, and information about the specific health topics that they will be focusing on. For example, community health workers who work with Alzheimer’s patients may learn about how to communicate effectively with patients dealing with dementia.

Other Experience

Community health workers usually have some knowledge of a specific community, culture, medical condition, or disability. The ability to speak a foreign language may be helpful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some employers require health educators to obtain the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, which is offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.

Candidates must pass an exam that is aimed at entry-level health educators who have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. To maintain their certification, they must complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years. There is also the Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) credential for health educators with advanced education and experience.

Most states do not require community health workers to obtain certification, however, voluntary certification exists or is being considered or developed in a number of states. Requirements vary but may include completing an approved training program. For more information, contact your state’s board of health, nursing, or human services.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Health educators collect and analyze data in order to evaluate programs and to determine the needs of the people they serve.

Instructional skills. Health educators and community health workers should be comfortable with public speaking so that they can lead programs, teach classes, and facilitate discussion with clients and families.

Interpersonal skills. Health educators and community health workers interact with many people from a variety of backgrounds. They must be good listeners and be culturally sensitive to respond to the needs of the people they serve.

Problem-solving skills. Health educators and community health workers must think creatively about how to improve the health of the community through health education programs. In addition, they may need to solve problems that arise in planning programs, such as changes to their budget or resistance from the community they are serving.

Writing skills. Health educators and community health workers develop written materials to convey health-related information. Health educators also write proposals to develop programs and apply for funding.

Pay

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Health educators

$53,070

Health educators and community health workers

$44,390

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$43,020

Community health workers

$37,330

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for community health workers was $37,330 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,620, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,880.

The median annual wage for health educators was $53,070 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,400, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,730.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for community health workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $45,210
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 40,210
Government 39,470
Individual and family services 35,090
Outpatient care centers 33,420

In May 2016, the median annual wages for health educators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $62,650
Government 55,110
Outpatient care centers 50,650
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 46,370
Individual and family services 39,190

Most health educators and community health workers work full time. They may need to work nights and weekends to attend programs or meetings.

Job Outlook

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Community health workers

18%

Health educators and community health workers

16%

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

16%

Health educators

14%

Total, all occupations

7%

Overall employment of health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people healthy behaviors and explaining how to use available healthcare services.

Governments, healthcare providers, social services providers want to find ways to improve the quality of care and health outcomes, while reducing costs. This should increase demand for health educators and community health workers because they teach people how to live healthy lives and how to avoid costly diseases and medical procedures.

Job Prospects

Community health workers who have completed a formal education program and those who have experience working with a specific population may have more favorable job prospects. In addition, opportunities may be better for candidates who speak a foreign language and understand the culture of the community that they intend to serve.

Health educators may improve their job prospects by obtaining a certification.

Employment projections data for health educators and community health workers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Health educators and community health workers 118,500 137,700 16 19,200

Health educators

21-1091 61,000 69,900 14 8,800 employment projections excel document xlsx

Community health workers

21-1094 57,500 67,800 18 10,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of health educators and community health workers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Dietitians and nutritionists

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in the use of food and nutrition to promote health and manage disease. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Bachelor’s degree $58,920
Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy. Master’s degree $70,820
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market. Bachelor’s degree $58,030
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school. Bachelor’s degree $56,720
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. See How to Become One $75,430
School and Career Counselors

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed in school. Career counselors help people choose careers and follow a path to employment. Master’s degree $54,560
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services. High school diploma or equivalent $31,810
Social workers

Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. See How to Become One $46,890
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors. See How to Become One $42,150
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships. Master’s degree $49,170

Marriage and Family Therapists

Summary

mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists image

Marriage and family therapists help people manage problems with their family and relationships.
Quick Facts: Marriage and Family Therapists
2016 Median Pay $49,170 per year
$23.64 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Internship/residency
Number of Jobs, 2016 41,500
Job Outlook, 2016-26 23% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 9,700

What Marriage and Family Therapists Do

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships.

Work Environment

Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as private practice and mental health centers. Most work full time.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists are required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.

Pay

The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists was $49,170 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected due to the increasing use of integrated care.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for marriage and family therapists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of marriage and family therapists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about marriage and family therapists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Marriage and Family Therapists Do

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Marriage and family therapists encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences.

Marriage and family therapists help people manage problems with their family and other relationships.

Duties

Marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
  • Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
  • Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations
  • Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities
  • Complete and maintain confidential files and mandated records

Marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones.

Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must market their practice to prospective clients and work with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. They bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. They treat the clients’ relationships, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, and substance abuse.

Marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychologists and social workers.

Work Environment

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice.

Marriage and family therapists held about 41,500 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of marriage and family therapists were as follows:

Individual and family services 28%
Outpatient care centers 15
Offices of other health practitioners 14
State government, excluding education and hospitals 13
Self-employed workers 8

Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, and hospitals. They also work in private practice and in Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which are mental health programs that some employers provide to help employees deal with personal problems.

Work Schedules

Marriage and family therapists generally work full time. Some therapists work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Master’s programs in marriage and family therapy prepare students to provide counseling to couples, individuals, and groups.

Marriage and family therapists are required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.

Education

To become a marriage and family therapist, applicants need a master’s degree in psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter one of these master’s degree programs.

Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

There are several organizations that accredit counseling programs, including the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).

Training

Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In addition, therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Marriage and family therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Marriage and family therapists work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.

Listening skills. Marriage and family therapists need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.

Organizational skills. Marriage and family therapists in private practice must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Speaking skills. Marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express information in a way that clients can understand easily.

Pay

Marriage and Family Therapists

Median annual wages, May 2016

Marriage and family therapists

$49,170

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$43,020

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists was $49,170 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,600, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,960.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for marriage and family therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $72,180
Outpatient care centers 48,900
Offices of other health practitioners 47,650
Individual and family services 44,560

Marriage and family therapists generally work full time. Some therapists work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules.

Job Outlook

Marriage and Family Therapists

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Marriage and family therapists

23%

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

16%

Total, all occupations

7%

Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 23 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected due to the increasing use of integrated care, which is a treatment of multiple problems at one time by a group of specialists. In providing integrated care, marriage and family therapists are working with counselors such as substance abuse, behavior disorder, or mental health counselors, to address patients’ issues as a team.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be good for marriage and family therapists because of a combination of the projected increase in number of jobs over the next ten years and the expected need to fill jobs vacated by separating employees.

Employment projections data for marriage and family therapists, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Marriage and family therapists 21-1013 41,500 51,200 23 9,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of marriage and family therapists.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Physicians and surgeons

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates. Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.
Psychologists

Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors. See How to Become One $75,230
Rehabilitation counselors

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently. They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living. Master’s degree $34,670
School and Career Counselors

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed in school. Career counselors help people choose careers and follow a path to employment. Master’s degree $54,560
Social and community service managers

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage workers who provide social services to the public. Bachelor’s degree $64,680
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services. High school diploma or equivalent $31,810
Social workers

Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. See How to Become One $46,890
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors. See How to Become One $42,150
Health educators

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities. See How to Become One $44,390
genetic counselors image

Genetic Counselors

Genetic counselors assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. They provide information and support to other healthcare providers, or to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions. Master’s degree $74,120

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Summary

probation officers and correctional treatment specialists image

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with and monitor law offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes.
Quick Facts: Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
2016 Median Pay $50,160 per year
$24.12 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 91,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 5,200

What Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists Do

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.

Work Environment

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with probationers and parolees. Workers may be assigned to fieldwork in high-crime areas or in institutions. As a result, the work can be stressful and dangerous.

How to Become a Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists usually need a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most employers require candidates to pass oral, written, and psychological exams.

Pay

The median annual wage for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $50,160 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job openings should remain plentiful because many people leave the occupation each year.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about probation officers and correctional treatment specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists Do

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Correctional treatment specialists counsel law offenders and create rehabilitation plans for them to follow when they are no longer in prison.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.

Duties

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists typically do the following:

  • Interview with probationers and parolees, their friends, and their relatives in an office or at a residence to assess progress
  • Evaluate probationers and parolees to determine the best course of rehabilitation
  • Provide probationers and parolees with resources, such as job training
  • Test offenders for drugs and offer substance abuse counseling
  • Complete prehearing investigations and testify in court regarding offender’s backgrounds
  • Write reports and maintain case files on offenders

The following are examples of types of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists:

Probation officers, who are sometimes referred to as community supervision officers, supervise people who have been placed on probation instead of sent to prison. They work to ensure that the probationer is not a danger to the community and to help in their rehabilitation through frequent visits with the probationer. Probation officers write reports that detail each probationer’s treatment plan and their progress since being put on probation. Most work exclusively with either adults or juveniles.

Parole officers work with people who have been released from prison and are serving parole, helping them re-enter society. Parole officers monitor post-release parolees and provide them with information on various resources, such as substance abuse counseling or job training, to aid in their rehabilitation. By doing so, the officers try to change the parolee’s behavior and thus reduce the risk of that person committing another crime and having to return to prison.

Both probation and parole officers supervise probationers and parolees through personal contact with them and their families (also known as community supervision). Probation and parole officers require regularly scheduled contact with parolees and probationers by telephone or through office visits, and they also check on them at their homes or places of work. When making home visits, probation and parole officers take into account the safety of the neighborhood in which the probationers and parolees live and any mental health considerations that may be pertinent. Probation and parole officers also oversee drug testing and electronic monitoring of those under supervision. In some states, workers perform the duties of both probation and parole officers.

Pretrial services officers investigate a pretrial defendant’s background to determine if the defendant can be safely allowed back into the community before his or her trial date. Officers must assess the risk and make a recommendation to a judge, who decides on the appropriate sentencing (in settled cases with no trial) or bond amount. When pretrial defendants are allowed back into the community, pretrial officers supervise them to make sure that they stay within the terms of their release and appear at their trials.

Correctional treatment specialists, also known as case managers or correctional counselors, advise probationers and parolees and develop rehabilitation plans for them to follow. They may evaluate inmates using questionnaires and psychological tests. They also work with inmates, parole officers, and staff of other agencies to develop parole and release plans. For example, they may plan education and training programs to improve probationers’ job skills.

Correctional treatment specialists write case reports that cover the inmate’s history and the likelihood that he or she will commit another crime. When inmates are eligible for release, the case reports are given to the appropriate parole board. The specialist may help set up counseling for the parolees and their families, find substance abuse or mental health treatment options, aid in job placement, and find housing. Correctional treatment specialists also explain the terms and conditions of the prisoner’s release and keep detailed written accounts of each parolee’s progress.

The number of cases a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist handles at one time depends on the needs of individuals under supervision and the risks associated with each individual. Higher risk probationers usually command more of an officer’s time and resources. Caseload size also varies by agency.

Improved tests for drug screening and electronic devices to monitor clients help probation officers and correctional treatment specialists supervise and counsel probationers.

Work Environment

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Extensive travel and paperwork can also contribute to more hours of work.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists held about 91,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals 54%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 43
Social assistance 1

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with probationers and parolees. While supervising individuals, they may interact with others, such as family members and friends of their clients, who may be upset or difficult to work with. Workers may be assigned to fieldwork in high-crime areas or in institutions where there is a risk of violence.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists may have court deadlines imposed by the statute of limitations. In addition, many officers travel to perform home and employment checks and property searches. Because of the hostile environments they may encounter, some may carry a firearm or pepper spray for protection.

All of these factors, in addition to the challenge some officers experience in dealing with probationers and parolees who violate the terms of their release, can contribute to a stressful work environment. Although the high stress levels can make the job difficult at times, this work can also be rewarding. Many officers and specialists receive personal satisfaction from counseling members of their community and helping them become productive citizens.

Work Schedules

Although many officers and specialists work full time, the demands of the job sometimes lead to working overtime and variable hours. For example, many agencies rotate an on-call officer position. When these workers are on-call, they must respond to any issues with probationers, parolees, or law enforcement 24 hours a day.

Extensive travel and paperwork can also contribute to more hours of work.

How to Become a Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Probation officers may go on to specialize in a certain type of casework, such as working with juvenile law offenders.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists usually need a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most employers require candidates to pass competency exams, drug testing, and a criminal background check.

A valid driver’s license is often required, and most agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice, behavioral sciences, or a related field is usually required. Requirements vary by jurisdiction.

Training

Most probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must complete a training program sponsored by their state government or the federal government, after which they may have to pass a certification test. In addition, they may be required to work as trainees for up to 1 year before being offered a permanent position.

Some probation officers and correctional treatment specialists specialize in a certain type of casework. For example, an officer may work only with domestic violence probationers or deal only with substance abuse cases. Some may work only cases involving juvenile offenders. Officers receive the appropriate specific training so that they are better prepared to help that type of probationer.

Other Experience

Although job requirements vary, work experience obtained by way of internships in courthouses or with probationers in the criminal justice field can be helpful for some positions.

Advancement

Advancement to supervisory positions is primarily based on experience and performance. A master’s degree in criminal justice, social work, or psychology may be required for advancement.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to effectively interact with probationers, probationers’ family members, lawyersjudges, treatment providers, and law enforcement.

Critical-thinking skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to assess the needs of individual probationers before determining the best resources for helping them.

Decisionmaking skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must consider the best rehabilitation plan for offenders.

Emotional stability. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists cope with hostile individuals or otherwise upsetting circumstances on the job.

Organizational skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists manage multiple cases at the same time.

Pay

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2016

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

$50,160

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$43,020

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $50,160 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88,930.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $54,050
State government, excluding education and hospitals 48,250
Social assistance 33,560

Although many officers and specialists work full time, the demands of the job sometimes lead to working overtime and variable hours. For example, many agencies rotate an on-call officer position. When these workers are on-call, they must respond to any issues with probationers or law enforcement 24 hours a day.

Extensive travel and paperwork can also contribute to more hours of work.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2016.

Job Outlook

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

16%

Total, all occupations

7%

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

6%

Employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment growth depends primarily on the amount of state and local government funding for corrections, especially the amount allocated to probation and parole systems.

Because community corrections is viewed as an economically viable alternative to incarceration in some cases, demand for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists should continue. Parole officers will continue to be needed to supervise individuals who will be released from prison in the future.

Job Prospects

Many job openings will result from the need to replace those who leave the occupation each year due to the heavy workloads and high job-related stress. Job opportunities should be plentiful for those who qualify. The ability to speak Spanish is also desirable in this occupation and may present better job prospects.

Employment projections data for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists 21-1092 91,300 96,500 6 5,200 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Correctional officers

Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms. High school diploma or equivalent $42,820
Police and detectives

Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes. See How to Become One $61,600
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services. High school diploma or equivalent $31,810
Social workers

Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. See How to Become One $46,890
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors. See How to Become One $42,150

School and Career Counselors

Summary

school and career counselors image

School counselors help students develop social skills and succeed in school.
Quick Facts: School and Career Counselors
2016 Median Pay $54,560 per year
$26.23 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 291,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 13% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 36,700

What School and Career Counselors Do

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed in school. Career counselors help people choose careers and follow a path to employment.

Work Environment

School counselors work in public and private schools. Career counselors work in colleges, career centers, and private practices. Both types of counselors generally work full time.

How to Become a School or Career Counselor

Most school counselors need a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field and have a state-issued credential. Some states require licensure for career counselors.

Pay

The median annual wage for school and career counselors was $54,560 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of school and career counselors is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing school enrollments is expected to lead to employment growth of these workers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for school and career counselors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of school and career counselors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about school and career counselors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What School and Career Counselors Do

School and career counselors

Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions.

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills that lead to success in school. Career counselors help people develop skills, explore a career, or choose an educational program that will lead to a career.

Duties

School counselors typically do the following:

  • Evaluate students’ abilities and interests through aptitude assessments, interviews, and individual planning
  • Identify issues that affect school performance, such as poor classroom attendance rates
  • Help students understand and overcome social or behavioral problems through classroom guidance lessons and counseling
  • Counsel individuals and small groups on the basis of student and school needs
  • Work with students to develop skills, such as organizational and time management abilities and effective study habits
  • Help students create a plan to achieve academic and career goals
  • Collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students succeed
  • Teach students and school staff about specific topics, such as bullying, drug abuse, and planning for college or careers after graduation
  • Maintain records as required
  • Report possible cases of neglect or abuse and refer students and parents to resources outside the school for additional support

The specific duties of school counselors vary with the ages of their students.

Elementary school counselors focus on helping students develop certain skills, such as those used in decisionmaking and studying, that they need in order to be successful in their social and academic lives. School counselors meet with parents or guardians to discuss their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and any special needs and behavioral issues that the child might have. School counselors also work with teachers and administrators to ensure that the curriculum addresses both the developmental and academic needs of students.

Middle school counselors work with school staff, parents, and the community to create a caring, supportive environment for students to achieve academic success. They help the students develop the skills and strategies necessary to succeed academically and socially.

High school counselors advise students in making academic and career plans. Many help students overcome personal issues that interfere with their academic development. They help students choose classes and plan for their lives after graduation. Counselors provide information about choosing and applying for colleges, training programs, financial aid, and internships and apprenticeships. They may present career workshops to help students search and apply for jobs, write résumés, and improve their interviewing skills.

Career counselors typically do the following:

  • Use aptitude and achievement assessments to help clients evaluate their interests, skills, and abilities
  • Evaluate clients’ background, education, and training, to help them develop realistic goals
  • Guide clients through making decisions about their careers, such as choosing a new profession and the type of degree to pursue
  • Help clients learn job search skills, such as interviewing and networking
  • Assist clients in locating and applying for jobs, by teaching them strategies that will be helpful in finding openings and writing a résumé
  • Advise clients on how to resolve problems in the workplace, such as conflicts with bosses or coworkers
  • Help clients select and apply for educational programs, to obtain the necessary degrees, credentials, and skills

Career counselors work with clients at various stages of their careers. Some work in colleges, helping students choose a major or determine the jobs they are qualified for with their degrees. Career counselors also help people find and get jobs by teaching them job search, résumé writing, and interviewing techniques.

Career counselors also work with people who have already entered the workforce. These counselors develop plans to improve their clients’ current careers. They also provide advice about entering a new profession or helping to resolve workplace issues.

Some career counselors work in outplacement firms and assist laid-off workers with transitioning into new jobs or careers.

Work Environment

School and career counselors

School counselors work in private and public schools where they have private offices.

School and career counselors held about 291,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of school and career counselors were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 44%
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 34
Healthcare and social assistance 10
Other educational services; state, local, and private 4
Self-employed workers 3

School counselors often have private offices so that they can have confidential conversations with students.

Work Schedules

Most school and career counselors work full time. Some school counselors do not work during the summer when school is not in session.

How to Become a School or Career Counselor

School and career counselors

Career counselors who work in private practices may also need a license.

Most school counselors must have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field and have a state-issued credential. Some states require licensure for career counselors.

Education

Nearly all states and the District of Columbia require school counselors to have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. Degree programs teach counselors the essential skills of the job, such as how to foster academic development; conduct group and individual counseling; work with parents, school staff, and community organizations; and use data to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school counseling programs for all students. These programs often require counselors to complete an internship.

Some employers prefer that career counselors have a master’s degree in counseling with a focus on career development. Career counseling programs prepare students to assess clients’ skills and interests and to teach career development techniques.

Many master’s degree programs in counseling require students to have a period of supervised experience, such as an internship.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Public school counselors must have a state-issued credential to practice. This credential can be called a certification, a license, or an endorsement, depending on the state. Licensure or certification typically requires a master’s degree in school counseling, an internship or practicum completed under the supervision of a licensed professional school counselor, and successful completion of a test.

Some states require applicants to have classroom teaching experience, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified. Most states require a criminal background check as part of the credentialing process. Information about requirements for each state is available from the American School Counselor Association.

Some states require licensure for career counselors; check with your state for more information. Contact information for state regulating boards is available from the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some states require school counselors to have 1 to 2 years of experience as a teacher, or to hold a teaching license, prior to being certified.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. School and career counselors interpret assessments to match interests and abilities with potential careers.

Compassion. School and career counselors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients and students.

Interpersonal skills. School and career counselors must be able to work with people of all backgrounds and personalities. They spend most of their time working directly with clients, students, or other professionals and need to form and maintain good working relationships with them.

Listening skills. School and career counselors need good listening skills. They need to give their full attention to students and clients in order to understand their problems.

Speaking skills. School and career counselors must communicate effectively with clients and students. They should express ideas and information in a way that their clients and students understand easily.

Pay

School and Career Counselors

Median annual wages, May 2016

School and career counselors

$54,560

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$43,020

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for school and career counselors was $54,560 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,400, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $90,030.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for school and career counselors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private $62,100
Junior colleges, colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 48,500
Other educational services; state, local, and private 48,380
Healthcare and social assistance 37,080

Most school and career counselors work full time. Some school counselors do not work during the summer when school is not in session.

Job Outlook

School and Career Counselors

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

16%

School and career counselors

13%

Total, all occupations

7%

Employment of school and career counselors is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

Rising student enrollments in elementary, middle, and high schools is expected to increase demand for school counselors. As enrollments grow, schools will require more counselors to respond to the developmental and academic needs of their students. Colleges will need to hire additional counselors to meet the demand for career counseling services from their students.

Demand for career counseling is projected to increase in universities as an increasing number of campuses open onsite career centers to help students develop skills and prepare for transition to the workforce.

Career counselors also will be needed to assist those who change careers, to help laid-off workers find employment, and to help military personnel transition into the civilian job market.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be good for those with counseling degrees, especially in schools and colleges, because of the need to replace the workers who leave the occupation each year.

Employment projections data for school and career counselors, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors 21-1012 291,700 328,400 13 36,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of school and career counselors.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market. Bachelor’s degree $58,030
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling. Bachelor’s degree $55,490
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships. Master’s degree $49,170
Middle school teachers

Middle School Teachers

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school. Bachelor’s degree $56,720
Psychologists

Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors. See How to Become One $75,230
Rehabilitation counselors

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently. They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living. Master’s degree $34,670
Social and community service managers

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage workers who provide social services to the public. Bachelor’s degree $64,680
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services. High school diploma or equivalent $31,810
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors. See How to Become One $42,150
training and development specialists image

Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists help plan, conduct, and administer programs that train employees and improve their skills and knowledge. Bachelor’s degree $59,020

Social Workers

Summary

social workers image

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems.
Quick Facts: Social Workers
2016 Median Pay $46,890 per year
$22.54 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 682,100
Job Outlook, 2016-26 16% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 109,700

What Social Workers Do

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Work Environment

Social workers work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, hospitals, settlement houses, community development corporations, and private practices. They generally work full time and may need to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

How to Become a Social Worker

Although some social workers only need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Pay

The median annual wage for social workers was $46,890 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increased demand for healthcare and social services, but will vary by specialization.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for social workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of social workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about social workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Social Workers Do

Social workers

Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and support families in need of assistance.

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

Duties

Social workers typically do the following:

  • Identify people and communities in need of help
  • Assess clients’ needs, situations, strengths, and support networks to determine their goals
  • Help clients adjust to changes and challenges in their lives, such as illness, divorce, or unemployment
  • Research, refer, and advocate for community resources, such as food stamps, childcare, and healthcare to assist and improve a client’s well-being
  • Respond to crisis situations such as child abuse and mental health emergencies
  • Follow up with clients to ensure that their situations have improved
  • Maintain case files and records
  • Develop and evaluate programs and services to ensure that basic client needs are met
  • Provide psychotherapy services

Social workers help people cope with challenges in their lives. They help with a wide range of situations, such as adopting a child or being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Advocacy is an important aspect of social work. Social workers advocate or raise awareness with and on behalf of their clients and the social work profession on local, state, and national levels.

Some social workers—referred to as bachelor’s social workers (BSW)—work with groups, community organizations, and policymakers to develop or improve programs, services, policies, and social conditions. This focus of work is referred to as macro social work.

Social workers who are licensed to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders are called clinical social workers (CSW) or licensed clinical social workers (LCSW). They provide individual, group, family, and couples therapy; they work with clients to develop strategies to change behavior or cope with difficult situations; and they refer clients to other resources or services, such as support groups or other mental health professionals. Clinical social workers can develop treatment plans with the client, doctors, and other healthcare professionals and may adjust the treatment plan if necessary based on their client’s progress. They may work in a variety of specialties. Clinical social workers who have not completed two years of supervised work are often called master’s social workers (MSW).

The following are examples of types of social workers:

Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. They help families find housing or services, such as childcare, or apply for benefits, such as food stamps. They intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Some help arrange adoptions, locate foster families, or work to reunite families.

School social workers work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students’ academic performance and social development. Students and their families are often referred to social workers to deal with problems such as aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school.

Healthcare social workers help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare. For example, they may help people make the transition from the hospital back to their homes and communities. In addition, they may provide information on services, such as home healthcare or support groups, to help patients manage their illness or disease. Social workers help doctors and other healthcare professionals understand the effects that diseases and illnesses have on patients’ mental and emotional health. Some healthcare social workers specialize in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work.

Mental health and substance abuse social workers help clients with mental illnesses or addictions. They provide information on services, such as support groups and 12-step programs, to help clients cope with their illness. Many clinical social workers function in these roles as well.

Work Environment

Social workers

Although most social workers work in an office, they may spend a lot of time away from the office visiting clients.

Social workers held about 682,100 jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up social workers was distributed as follows:

Child, family, and school social workers 317,600
Healthcare social workers 176,500
Mental health and substance abuse social workers 123,900
Social workers, all other 64,000

The largest employers of social workers were as follows:

Individual and family services 18%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 14
Ambulatory healthcare services 13
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 13
Hospitals; state, local, and private 12

Although most social workers work in an office, they may spend time visiting clients. School social workers may be assigned to multiple schools and travel around the school district to see students. Understaffing and large caseloads may cause the work to be stressful.

Social workers may work remotely through distance counseling, using videoconferencing or mobile technology to meet with clients and organize support and advocacy groups.

Work Schedules

The majority of social workers worked full time in 2016. They sometimes work evenings, weekends, and holidays to see clients or attend meetings, and they may be on call.

How to Become a Social Worker

social workers image

Clinical social workers need a master’s degree, supervised experience, and a license to provide mental health or counseling services.

Although some social workers only need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of experience in a supervised clinical setting after they’ve completed their degree. Clinical social workers must also be licensed by their state.

Education and Training

There are multiple educational pathways to becoming a social worker, depending on the specialty.

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level administrative positions. However, some employers may hire workers who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology.

A BSW prepares students for direct-service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant. These programs teach students about diverse populations, human behavior, social welfare policy, and ethics in social work. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.

Clinical positions require a master’s degree in social work (MSW), which generally takes 2 years to complete. MSW programs prepare students for work in their chosen specialty by developing clinical assessment and management skills. All programs require students to complete a supervised practicum or an internship.

A bachelor’s degree in social work is not required in order to enter a master’s degree program in social work. Although a bachelor’s degree in almost any major is acceptable, courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended. Some programs allow graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work to earn their master’s degree in 1 year.

In 2017, there were more than 500 bachelor’s degree programs and more than 200 master’s degree programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Two years of supervised training and experience after obtaining an MA degree is typically required for clinical social workers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require clinical social workers to be licensed, and most states require licensure or certification for nonclinical social workers. Becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires a master’s degree in social work and a minimum of 2 years of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass a clinical exam to be licensed.

Because licensing requirements vary by state, those interested should contact their state licensure board. For more information about regulatory licensure boards by state, visit the Association of Social Work Boards.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Clients talk to social workers about challenges in their lives. To provide effective help, social workers must be able to listen to and understand their clients’ needs.

Emotional skills. Social workers often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have patience, compassion, and empathy for their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Social workers need to be able to work with different groups of people. They need strong interpersonal skills to foster healthy and productive relationships with their clients and colleagues.

Organizational skills. Social workers must help and manage multiple clients, often assisting with their paperwork or documenting their treatment.

Problem-solving skills. Social workers need to develop practical and innovative solutions to their clients’ problems.

Pay

Social Workers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Social workers

$46,890

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$43,020

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for social workers was $46,890 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,510.

Median annual wages for social workers in May 2016 were as follows:

Social workers, all other $60,230
Healthcare social workers 53,760
Child, family, and school social workers 43,250
Mental health and substance abuse social workers 42,700

In May 2016, the median annual wages for social workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $57,650
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 52,370
Ambulatory healthcare services 47,130
State government, excluding education and hospitals 44,320
Individual and family services 39,260

The majority of social workers worked full time in 2016. They sometimes work evenings, weekends, and holidays to see clients or attend meetings, and they may be on call.

Job Outlook

Social Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Social workers

16%

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

16%

Total, all occupations

7%

Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster average for all occupations. Increased demand for healthcare and social services will drive demand for social workers, but growth will vary by specialization.

Employment of child, family, and school social workers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Child and family social workers will be needed to work with families to strengthen parenting skills, prevent child abuse, and identify alternative homes for children who are unable to live with their biological families. In schools, more social workers will be needed as student enrollments rise. However, employment growth of child, family, and school social workers may be limited by federal, state, and local budget constraints.

Employment of healthcare social workers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Healthcare social workers will continue to be needed to help aging populations and their families adjust to new treatments, medications, and lifestyles.

Employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment will grow as more people seek treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. In addition, drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs, which are staffed by these social workers, rather than being sent to jail.

Job Prospects

Overall, job prospects should be very good, particularly for clinical social workers. The continuing growth of healthcare spending and treatment increases the opportunities for clinical social workers as compared to social workers who do not offer treatment services.

Employment projections data for social workers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Social workers 21-1020 682,100 791,800 16 109,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

Child, family, and school social workers

21-1021 317,600 362,600 14 45,000 employment projections excel document xlsx

Healthcare social workers

21-1022 176,500 212,000 20 35,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

Mental health and substance abuse social workers

21-1023 123,900 147,900 19 23,900 employment projections excel document xlsx

Social workers, all other

21-1029 64,000 69,300 8 5,300 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of social workers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Health educators

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities. See How to Become One $44,390
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships. Master’s degree $49,170
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole. Bachelor’s degree $50,160
Psychologists

Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments. They use their findings to help improve processes and behaviors. See How to Become One $75,230
Rehabilitation counselors

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently. They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living. Master’s degree $34,670
School and Career Counselors

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed in school. Career counselors help people choose careers and follow a path to employment. Master’s degree $54,560
Social and community service managers

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage workers who provide social services to the public. Bachelor’s degree $64,680
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services. High school diploma or equivalent $31,810
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors. See How to Become One $42,150

January 2018 – Protective Services Careers

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Summary

security guards image

Security guards conduct security checks over their assigned patrol area.
Quick Facts: Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers
2016 Median Pay $25,840 per year
$12.43 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 1,133,900
Job Outlook, 2016-26 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 71,000

What Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers Do

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity.

Work Environment

Security guards work in a wide variety of places, including public buildings, retail stores, and office buildings. Gaming surveillance officers work mostly in casino observation rooms, using audio and video equipment. Because many buildings and casinos are open 24 hours a day, security guards and officers must often work around the clock.

How to Become a Security Guard or Gaming Surveillance Officer

Most security guard jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers may need experience with security and video surveillance, depending upon their work assignment. Most states require guards to be registered with the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Pay

The median annual wage for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators was $32,630 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for security guards was $25,770 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Overall job opportunities should be excellent, especially for security guards.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for security guards and gaming surveillance officers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of security guards and gaming surveillance officers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about security guards and gaming surveillance officers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers Do

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

Security guards control building access for employees and visitors.

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity.

Duties

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers typically do the following:

  • Enforce laws and protect an employer’s property
  • Monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras
  • Respond to emergencies
  • Control building access for employees and visitors
  • Conduct security checks over a specified area
  • Write reports on what they observed while on duty
  • Detain violators

Guards and officers must remain alert, looking out for anything unusual. In an emergency, they are required to call for assistance from police, fire, or ambulance services. Some security guards are armed.

A security guard’s responsibilities vary from one employer to another. In retail stores, guards protect people, merchandise, money, and equipment. They may work with undercover store detectives to prevent theft by customers and employees, detain shoplifting suspects until the police arrive, and patrol parking lots.

In offices and factories, security guards protect workers and equipment and check the credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving the premises.

Security guards work in many other environments, because they work wherever people and assets need to be protected.

Security guards, also called security officers, protect property, enforce rules on the property, and deter criminal activity. Some guards are assigned a stationary position from which they monitor alarms or surveillance cameras. Other guards are assigned a patrol area where they conduct security checks.

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators act as security agents for casinos. Using audio and video equipment in an observation room, they watch casino operations for suspicious activities, such as cheating and theft, and monitor compliance with rules, regulations, and laws. They maintain and organize recordings from security cameras, which are sometimes used as evidence in police investigations.

Work Environment

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

Some security guards monitor alarms or surveillance cameras from a desk.

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators held about 10,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 47%
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 25
Casino hotels 19
State government, excluding education and hospitals 4
Spectator sports 2

Security guards held about 1.1 million jobs in 2016. The largest employers of security guards were as follows:

Investigation, guard, and armored car services 58%
Educational services; state, local, and private 6
Accommodation and food services 6
Healthcare and social assistance 6
Government 4

Security guards work in a wide variety of places, including public spaces, stores, and office buildings. Gaming surveillance officers and investigators are employed only in locations where gambling is legal.

Most security guards spend considerable time on their feet, either at a single post or patrolling buildings and grounds. Some may sit for long periods behind a counter or in a guardhouse at the entrance to a gated facility or community.

Security guards who work during the day may have a great deal of contact with other employees and the public.

Most gaming surveillance officers sit behind a desk observing customers on video surveillance equipment.

Work Schedules

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers usually work in shifts of approximately 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.

How to Become a Security Guard or Gaming Surveillance Officer

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

Most states require that guards be registered with the state in which they work.

Most security guard and gaming surveillance officer jobs require a high school diploma. Gaming surveillance officers sometimes need experience with security and video surveillance. Most states require security guards to be registered with the state, especially if they carry a firearm.

Education

Security guards generally need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may not have any education requirements. Gaming surveillance officers also need a high school diploma or equivalent and may need experience with video surveillance technology depending upon assignment.

Training

Although most employers provide instruction for newly hired security guards, the amount of training they receive varies. Most security guards, however, learn their job in a few weeks. During this time, the employer-provided training typically covers emergency procedures, detention of suspected criminals, and proper communication.

Many states recommend that security guards receive approximately 8 hours of pre-assignment training, 8–16 hours of on-the-job training, and 8 hours of annual training. This may include training in protection, public relations, report writing, deterring crises, first aid, and other specialized training related to the security guard’s assignment.

Training is more rigorous for armed guards because they require weapons training. Armed guards may be tested periodically in the use of firearms.

Gaming surveillance officers and investigators receive training in topics such as the rules of casino games, gaming regulations, identifying cheating techniques, and the proper use of video and radio equipment.

Drug testing may be required both as a condition of employment and randomly during employment.

Work experience in a related occupation

Gaming surveillance officers and investigators may need previous work experience in surveillance or in casinos. Experience with video monitoring technology is particularly helpful, and some workers gain this experience by working as a security guard.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require that security guards be registered with the state in which they work. Although registration requirements vary by state, basic qualifications for candidates are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass a background check
  • Complete training

Guards who carry weapons usually must be registered by the appropriate government authority. Armed guard positions have more stringent background checks and entry requirements than those of unarmed guards. Rigorous hiring and screening programs, including background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks, are required for armed guards in most states.

Some jobs may also require a driver’s license.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Security guards and officers must communicate effectively with others, even in stressful situations.

Good judgment. Security guards and officers must be able to quickly determine the best course of action when a dangerous situation arises.

Observation skills. Security guards and officers must be alert and aware of their surroundings, and be able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.

Patience. Security guards and officers may need to spend long periods standing and observing their environment without distractions.

Pay

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

$32,630

Other protective service workers

$25,960

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

$25,840

Security guards

$25,770

The median annual wage for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators was $32,630 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,340, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $52,500.

The median annual wage for security guards was $25,770 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,260.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $53,880
Casino hotels 35,420
Gambling industries (except casino hotels) 31,720
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 31,030
Spectator sports 30,550

In May 2016, the median annual wages for security guards in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $32,320
Educational services; state, local, and private 31,590
Healthcare and social assistance 30,710
Accommodation and food services 26,780
Investigation, guard, and armored car services 24,230

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers usually work in shifts of approximately 8 hours, with rotating schedules. Night shifts are common.

Job Outlook

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Other protective service workers

7%

Security guards

6%

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers

6%

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

4%

Overall employment of security guards and gaming surveillance officers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment of security guards is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Security guards will continue to be needed to protect both people and property because of concerns about crime and vandalism.

Employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators is projected to grow 4 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations. Although states continue to legalize gambling and casinos continue to grow in number, advances in video surveillance and anti-cheating technology may limit the employment of gaming surveillance officers and investigators.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities are projected to be excellent, especially for security guards. The large size of the occupation and the number of workers who leave the occupation each year should result in many job openings. However, there will be more competition for higher paying positions that require more training and experience.

Candidates who have experience with video surveillance equipment should have the best job prospects in the gaming industry. Those with a background in law enforcement will also have an advantage.

Employment projections data for security guards and gaming surveillance officers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Security guards and gaming surveillance officers 33-9030 1,133,900 1,205,000 6 71,000 employment projections excel document xlsx

Gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators

33-9031 10,700 11,100 4 400 employment projections excel document xlsx

Security guards

33-9032 1,123,300 1,193,900 6 70,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of security guards and gaming surveillance officers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Correctional officers

Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms. High school diploma or equivalent $42,820
Gaming services occupations

Gaming Services Workers

Gaming services workers serve customers in gambling establishments, such as casinos or racetracks. Some workers tend slot machines, deal cards, or oversee other gaming activities such as keno or bingo. Others take bets or pay out winnings. Still others supervise or manage gaming workers and operations. High school diploma or equivalent $20,810
Police and detectives

Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes. See How to Become One $61,600
Private detectives and investigators

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators search for information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, such as verifying people’s backgrounds and statements, finding missing persons, and investigating computer crimes. High school diploma or equivalent $48,190
Firefighters

Firefighters

Firefighters control and put out fires and respond to emergencies where life, property, or the environment is at risk. Postsecondary nondegree award $48,030

Firefighters

Summary

firefighters image

Firefighters control fires and respond to other emergencies.
Quick Facts: Firefighters
2016 Median Pay $48,030 per year
$23.09 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 327,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 23,600

What Firefighters Do

Firefighters control and put out fires and respond to emergencies where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

Work Environment

When on the scenes of fires and other emergencies, the work can be very dangerous. When not on the scene of an emergency, firefighters remain on call at fire stations, where they sleep, eat, and perform other duties during shifts that often last 24 hours. Many work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Firefighter

Firefighters typically need a high school diploma and training in emergency medical services. Most firefighters receive training at a fire academy, must pass written and physical tests, complete a series of interviews, and hold an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification.

Pay

The median annual wage for firefighters was $48,030 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of firefighters is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Physically fit applicants with paramedic training will have the best job prospects.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for firefighters.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of firefighters with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about firefighters by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Firefighters Do

Firefighters

Many firefighters are responsible for providing medical attention.

Firefighters control and put out fires and respond to emergencies where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

Duties

Firefighters typically do the following:

  • Drive firetrucks and other emergency vehicles
  • Put out fires using water hoses, fire extinguishers, and water pumps
  • Find and rescue victims in burning buildings or in other emergency situations
  • Treat sick or injured people
  • Prepare written reports on emergency incidents
  • Clean and maintain equipment
  • Conduct drills and physical fitness training

When responding to an emergency, firefighters are responsible for connecting hoses to hydrants, operating the pumps that power the hoses, climbing ladders, and using other tools to break through debris. Firefighters also enter burning buildings to extinguish fires and rescue individuals. Many firefighters are responsible for providing medical attention. Two out of three calls to firefighters are for medical emergencies, not fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

When firefighters are not responding to an emergency, they are on call at a fire station. During this time, they regularly inspect equipment and perform practice drills. They also eat and sleep and remain on call, as their shifts usually last 24 hours. Some firefighters may provide public education about fire safety, such as presenting about fire safety at a school.

Some firefighters also work in hazardous materials units and are specially trained to control and clean up hazardous materials, such as oil spills and chemical accidents. They work with hazardous materials removal workers in these cases.

Wildland firefighters are specially trained firefighters. They use heavy equipment and water hoses to control forest fires. Wildland firefighters also frequently create fire lines—a swath of cut-down trees and dug-up grass in the path of a fire—to deprive a fire of fuel. They also use prescribed fires to burn potential fire fuel under controlled conditions. Some wildland firefighters, known as smoke jumpers, parachute from airplanes to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.

Work Environment

Firefighters

Firefighters respond to emergencies such as car accidents.

Firefighters held about 327,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of firefighters were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 90%
Administrative and support services 4
Federal government, excluding postal service 3
State government, excluding education and hospitals 2

These employment numbers exclude volunteer firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters share the same duties as paid firefighters and account for the majority of firefighters in many areas. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about two thirds of firefighters were volunteer firefighters in 2015.

When not on the scene of an emergency, firefighters work at fire stations, where they sleep, eat, work on equipment, and remain on call. When an alarm sounds, firefighters respond, regardless of the weather or time of day.

Injuries and Illnesses

Firefighters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. They often encounter dangerous situations, including collapsing floors and walls, traffic accidents, and overexposure to flames and smoke. As a result, workers must wear protective gear to help lower these risks. Often, the protective gear can be very heavy and hot.

Work Schedules

Firefighters typically work long periods and varied hours. Overtime is common. Most firefighters work 24-hour shifts on duty and are off the following 48 or 72 hours. Some firefighters may work 10/14 shifts, which means 10 hours working and 14 hours off.

When combating forest and wildland fires, firefighters may work for extended periods. For example, wildland firefighters may have to stay for days or weeks when a wildland fire breaks out.

How to Become a Firefighter

Firefighters

Firefighters begin their careers by attending fire academy training.

Firefighters typically need a high school diploma and training in emergency medical services. Prospective firefighters must pass written and physical tests, complete a series of interviews, go through training at a fire academy, and hold an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification.

Applicants for firefighter jobs typically must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. They must also pass a medical exam and drug screening to be hired. After being hired, firefighters may be subject to random drug tests and will also need to complete routine physical fitness assessments.

Education

The entry-level education needed to become a firefighter is a high school diploma or equivalent. However, some classwork beyond high school, such as instruction in assessing patients’ conditions, dealing with trauma, and clearing obstructed airways, is usually needed to obtain the emergency medical technician (EMT) certification. EMT requirements vary by city and state.

Training

Entry-level firefighters receive a few months of training at fire academies run by the fire department or by the state. Through classroom instruction and practical training, recruits study firefighting and fire-prevention techniques, local building codes, and emergency medical procedures. They also learn how to fight fires with standard equipment, including axes, chain saws, fire extinguishers, and ladders. After attending a fire academy, firefighters must usually complete a probationary period.

Those wishing to become wildland firefighters may attend apprenticeship programs that last up to 4 years. These programs combine instruction with on-the-job-training under the supervision of experienced firefighters.

In addition to participating in training programs conducted by local or state fire departments and agencies, some firefighters attend federal training sessions sponsored by the National Fire Academy. These training sessions cover topics including anti-arson techniques, disaster preparedness, hazardous materials control, and public fire safety and education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Usually, firefighters must be certified as emergency medical technicians. In addition, some fire departments require firefighters to be certified as a paramedic. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). certifies EMTs and paramedics. Both levels of NREMT certification require completing a training or education program and passing the national exam. The national exam has a computer-based test and a practical part. EMTs and paramedics may work with firefighters at the scenes of accidents.

Other Experience

Working as a volunteer firefighter may help in getting a job as a career firefighter.

Advancement

Firefighters can be promoted to engineer, then to lieutenant, captain, battalion chief, assistant chief, deputy chief, and, finally, chief. For promotion to positions beyond battalion chief, many fire departments now require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in fire science, public administration, or a related field. Some firefighters eventually become fire inspectors or investigators after gaining enough experience.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Firefighters communicate conditions at an emergency scene to other firefighters and to emergency-response crews.

Compassion. Firefighters, like EMT’s and paramedics, need to provide emotional support to those in emergency situations.

Courage. Firefighters’ daily job duties involve dangerous situations, such as entering a burning building.

Decisionmaking skills. Firefighters must be able to make quick and difficult decisions in an emergency. The ability to make good decisions under pressure could potentially save someone’s life.

Physical stamina. Firefighters may have to stay at disaster scenes for long periods of time to rescue and treat victims. Fighting fires requires prolonged use of strength.

Physical strength. Firefighters must be strong enough to carry heavy equipment and move debris at an emergency site. They also carry victims who are injured or cannot walk.

Pay

Firefighters

Median annual wages, May 2016

Fire fighting and prevention workers

$48,290

Firefighters

$48,030

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for firefighters was $48,030 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,110.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for firefighters in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $49,520
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 48,790
State government, excluding education and hospitals 48,230
Administrative and support services 29,130

Firefighters typically work long periods and varied hours. Overtime is common. Most firefighters work 24-hour shifts on duty and are off the following 48 or 72 hours. Some firefighters may work 10/14 shifts, which means 10 hours working and 14 hours off.

When combating forest and wildland fires, firefighters may work for extended periods. For example, wildland firefighters may have to stay for days or weeks when a wildland fire breaks out.

Union Membership

Most firefighters belonged to a union in 2016. The largest organizer of firefighters is the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Job Outlook

Firefighters

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Fire fighting and prevention workers

7%

Firefighters

7%

Employment of firefighters is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Although improved building materials and building codes have resulted in a long-term decrease in fires and fire fatalities, firefighters will still be needed to respond to fires. Fires can spread rapidly, so controlling them quickly is very important. Wildland firefighters will still be needed to combat active fires and manage the environment to reduce the impact of fires. Firefighters will also continue to respond to medical emergencies.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for firefighters will be good despite the number of volunteer firefighters that qualify for career firefighter jobs. There will be positions open from those leaving the occupation.

Physically fit applicants with some postsecondary firefighter education and paramedic training should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for firefighters, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Firefighters 33-2011 327,300 351,000 7 23,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of firefighters.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
EMTs and paramedics

EMTs and Paramedics

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care provided by these workers. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities. Postsecondary nondegree award $32,670
Fire inspectors and investigators

Fire Inspectors

Fire inspectors examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards and ensure that federal, state, and local fire codes are met. Fire investigators, another type of worker in this field, determine the origin and cause of fires and explosions. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas. See How to Become One $56,130
Forest and conservation workers

Forest and Conservation Workers

Forest and conservation workers measure and improve the quality of forests. Under the supervision of foresters and forest and conservation technicians, they develop, maintain, and protect forests. High school diploma or equivalent $26,940
Hazardous materials removal workers

Hazardous Materials Removal Workers

Hazardous materials (hazmat) removal workers identify and dispose of asbestos, lead, radioactive waste, and other hazardous materials. They also neutralize and clean up materials that are flammable, corrosive, or toxic. High school diploma or equivalent $40,640
Police and detectives

Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes. See How to Become One $61,600

Fire Inspectors

Summary

fire inspectors and investigators image

Fire investigators work at the scene of a fire to determine its cause.
Quick Facts: Fire Inspectors
2016 Median Pay $56,130 per year
$26.98 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 14,100
Job Outlook, 2016-26 10% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 1,400

What Fire Inspectors Do

Fire inspectors examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards and ensure that federal, state, and local fire codes are met. Fire investigators, another type of worker in this field, determine the origin and cause of fires and explosions. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas.

Work Environment

Fire inspectors and investigators work in offices and in the field. They typically work during regular business hours, but investigators may also work evenings, weekends, and holidays because they must be ready to respond when fires occur. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists spend much of their time outdoors.

How to Become a Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors and investigators, as well as forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists, typically have previous work experience as a firefighter. These workers need at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and receive on-the-job-training in inspection and investigation.

Pay

The median annual wage for fire inspectors and investigators was $58,440 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists was $36,230 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of fire inspectors is is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Jobseekers should expect strong competition for the limited number of available positions.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for fire inspectors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of fire inspectors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about fire inspectors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Fire Inspectors Do

Fire inspectors and investigators

Fire inspectors inspect building plans to ensure that they meet fire codes.

Fire inspectors examine buildings in order to detect fire hazards and ensure that federal, state, and local fire codes are met. Fire investigators, another type of worker in this field, determine the origin and cause of fires and explosions. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas.

Duties

Fire inspectors typically do the following:

  • Search for fire hazards
  • Ensure that buildings comply with fire codes
  • Test fire alarms, sprinklers, and other fire protection equipment
  • Inspect fuel storage tanks and air compressors
  • Review emergency evacuation plans
  • Conduct followup visits to make sure that infractions do not recur
  • Review building plans with developers
  • Conduct fire and safety education programs
  • Maintain fire inspection files
  • Administer burn permits and monitor controlled burns

Fire investigators typically do the following:

  • Collect and analyze evidence from scenes of fires and explosions
  • Interview witnesses
  • Reconstruct the scene of a fire or arson
  • Send evidence to laboratories to be tested for fingerprints or accelerants
  • Analyze information with chemists, engineers, and attorneys
  • Document evidence by taking photographs and creating diagrams
  • Determine the origin and cause of a fire
  • Keep detailed records and protect evidence for use in a court of law
  • Testify in civil and criminal legal proceedings
  • Exercise police powers, such as the power of arrest, and carry a weapon

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas. They look for fire code infractions and for conditions that pose a wildfire risk. They also recommend ways to reduce fire hazards. During patrols, they enforce fire regulations and report fire conditions to their central command center.

Work Environment

Fire inspectors and investigators

Fire investigators often work in the field when determining the origin and cause of a fire.

Fire inspectors and investigators held about 12,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of fire inspectors and investigators were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 78%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 9
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 2
Investigation and security services 2
Manufacturing 2

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists held about 1,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals 59%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 37

Fire inspectors work both in offices and in the field. In the field, inspectors examine buildings such as apartment complexes and offices. They also may visit and inspect other structures, such as arenas and industrial plants. Fire investigators visit the scene of a fire. They may be exposed to poor ventilation, smoke, fumes, and other hazardous agents.

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists spend much of their time outdoors, assessing the risks of fires in places such as forests, fields, and other natural or outdoor environments.

Work Schedules

Fire inspectors and investigators typically work during regular business hours, but investigators may also work evenings, weekends, and holidays because they must be ready to respond when fires occur.

How to Become a Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors and investigators

Many fire inspectors and investigators have a firefighter background.

Fire inspectors and investigators, as well as forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists, typically have previous work experience as a firefighter. These workers need at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and receive on-the-job-training in inspection and investigation.

Fire inspectors and investigators usually must pass a background check, which may include a drug test. Most employers also require inspectors and investigators to have a valid driver’s license, and investigators usually need to be U.S. citizens because of their police powers.

Education

Because fire inspectors and investigators typically have previous work experience as a firefighter, many have completed a postsecondary educational program for emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Some employers prefer candidates with a 2- or 4-year degree in fire science, engineering, or chemistry. For those candidates interested in becoming forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists, a high school diploma or equivalent typically is required.

Training

Training requirements vary by state, but programs usually include instruction in a classroom setting in addition to on-the-job training.

Classroom training often takes place at a fire or police academy over the course of several months. A variety of topics are covered, including guidelines for conducting an inspection or investigation, legal codes, courtroom procedures, protocols for handling hazardous and explosive materials, and the proper use of equipment.

In most agencies, after inspectors and investigators have finished their classroom training, they also receive on-the-job training, during which they work with a more experienced officer.

Employers, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and organizations, such as the National Fire Academy and the International Association of Arson Investigators, offer training programs in fire investigation.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most fire inspectors and investigators are required to have work experience as a firefighter. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists typically need firefighting experience before being hired.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many states have certification exams that cover standards established by the National Fire Protection Association. Many states require additional training for inspectors and investigators each year in order for them to maintain their certification.

The National Fire Protection Association also offers several certifications, such as Certified Fire Inspector and Certified Fire Protection Specialist, for fire inspectors. Some jobs in the private sector require that job candidates already have these certifications.

In addition, fire investigators may choose to pursue certification from a nationally recognized professional association. Among such certifications and associations are the Certified Fire Investigator (CFI) certification from the International Association of Arson Investigators or the Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator (CFEI) certification from the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) also offers a CFI certification. The process of obtaining certification can teach new skills and demonstrate competency.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Fire inspectors must clearly explain fire code violations to building and property managers. They must carefully interview witnesses as part of their factfinding mission.

Critical-thinking skills. Fire inspectors must be able to recognize code violations and recommend a way to fix the problem. They must be able to analyze evidence from a fire and come to a reasonable conclusion.

Detail oriented. Fire inspectors must notice details when inspecting a site for code violations or investigating the cause of a fire.

Physical strength. Fire investigators may have to move debris at the site of a fire in order to get a more accurate understanding of the scene.

Pay

Fire Inspectors

Median annual wages, May 2016

Fire inspectors and investigators

$58,440

Fire inspectors

$56,130

Fire fighting and prevention workers

$48,290

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists

$36,230

The median annual wage for fire inspectors and investigators was $58,440 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,530, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,270.

The median annual wage for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists was $36,230 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,700, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,660.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for fire inspectors and investigators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Manufacturing $70,650
Investigation and security services 62,500
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 58,980
State government, excluding education and hospitals 55,590
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 51,600

In May 2016, the median annual wages for forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $53,870
State government, excluding education and hospitals 30,660

Fire inspectors and investigators typically work during regular business hours, but investigators may also work evenings, weekends, and holidays because they must be ready to respond when fires occur.

Job Outlook

Fire Inspectors

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists

27%

Fire inspectors

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Fire fighting and prevention workers

7%

Fire inspectors and investigators

7%

Overall employment of fire inspectors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialization.

Employment of fire inspectors and investigators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Fire inspectors will be needed to assess potential fire hazards in newly constructed residential, commercial, public, and other buildings in the coming decade. Fire inspectors will also be needed to ensure that existing buildings meet updated and revised federal, state, and local fire codes each year. Although the number of structural fires occurring across the country has been falling for some time, fire investigators will still be needed to determine the cause of fires and explosions.

Employment of forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists is projected to grow 27 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 500 new jobs over the 10-year period. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists are expected to be needed to help prevent and control the increasingly destructive wildfires that the United States has been experiencing.

Job Prospects

Jobseekers should expect strong competition for the number of available positions.

Those who have completed some fire science education or who have training related to criminal investigation should have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for fire inspectors, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Fire inspectors 33-2020 14,100 15,400 10 1,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

Fire inspectors and investigators

33-2021 12,300 13,200 7 900 employment projections excel document xlsx

Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists

33-2022 1,700 2,200 27 500 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of fire inspectors.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Firefighters

Firefighters

Firefighters control and put out fires and respond to emergencies where life, property, or the environment is at risk. Postsecondary nondegree award $48,030
Police and detectives

Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes. See How to Become One $61,600
Private detectives and investigators

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators search for information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They offer many services, such as verifying people’s backgrounds and statements, finding missing persons, and investigating computer crimes. High school diploma or equivalent $48,190
Forensic science technicians

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. Many technicians specialize in various types of laboratory analysis. Bachelor’s degree $56,750

November 2017 – Media and Communication Careers

Quick Facts: Announcers

Announcers

Summary

announcers image

Announcers present music, sports, and news to audiences.
Quick Facts: Announcers
2016 Median Pay $30,830 per year
$14.82 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 52,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 -8% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2016-26 -4,100

What Announcers Do

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these or other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Work Environment

Many announcers work in radio and television studios. Some announcers are self-employed; others work part time.

How to Become an Announcer

Educational requirements for announcers vary. Radio and television announcers typically need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, broadcasting, or communications, along with other experience gained from internships or working at their college radio or television station. Public address announcers typically need a high school diploma with some short-term on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for public address system and other announcers was $28,940 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for radio and television announcers was $31,400 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of announcers is projected to decline 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. Experienced, formally trained announcers should have the best job prospects.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for announcers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of announcers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about announcers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Announcers Do

Radio and television announcers

Radio and television announcers present news and opinions and take calls from listeners.

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

Duties

Announcers typically do the following:

  • Present music, news, sports, the weather, the time, and commercials
  • Interview guests and moderate panels or discussions on their shows
  • Announce station programming information, such as program schedules, station breaks for commercials, or public service information
  • Research topics for comment and discussion during shows
  • Read prepared scripts on radio or television shows
  • Comment on important news stories
  • Provide commentary for the audience during sporting events, at parades, and on other occasions
  • Select program content
  • Introduce upcoming acts and guide the audience through the entertainment
  • Make promotional appearances at public or private events

Radio and television announcers present music or the news and comment on important current events. Announcers are expected to be up to date with current events or a specific field, such as politics or sports, so that they can comment on these issues during their programs. They may research and prepare information on current topics before appearing on air. In addition, announcers schedule guests on their shows and work with producers to develop other creative content.

Radio and television announcers also may be responsible for other aspects of television or radio broadcasting. They may operate studio equipment, sell commercial time to advertisers, or produce advertisements and other recorded material. At many radio stations, announcers do much of the work traditionally done by editors and broadcast technicians, such as broadcasting program schedules, commercials, and public service announcements.

Many radio and television announcers increasingly maintain a presence on social media sites. Establishing a presence allows them to promote their stations and better engage with their audiences, especially through listener feedback, music requests, or program contests. Announcers also make promotional appearances at charity functions or other community events.

Many radio stations now require DJs to update station websites with show schedules, interviews, or photos.

The following are examples of types of radio and television announcers:

  • Disc jockeysor DJs, broadcast music for radio stations. They typically specialize in one kind of music genre and announce selections as they air them. DJs comment on the music being broadcast as well as on weather and traffic conditions. They may take requests from listeners, interview guests, or manage listener contests.
  • Talk show hosts may work in radio or television and specialize in a certain area of interest, such as politics, personal finance, sports, or health. They contribute to the preparation of program content, interview guests, and discuss issues with viewers, listeners, or the studio audience.
  • Podcasters record shows that can be downloaded for listening through a computer or mobile device. Like traditional talk radio, podcasts typically focus on a specific subject, such as sports, politics, or movies. Podcasters may also interview guests and experts on the specific program topic. However, podcasts are different than traditional radio broadcasts. Podcasts are prerecorded so audiences can download and listen to these shows at any time. Listeners can also subscribe to a podcast to have new episodes automatically downloaded to their computer or mobile devices.

Public address system announcers entertain audiences to enhance performances or they provide information. They may prepare their own scripts or improvise lines in their speeches.

The specific duties of public address system announcers will vary greatly depending on where these announcers work. For example, an announcer for a sports team may have to present starting lineups (official lists of players who will participate in an event), read advertisements, and announce players as they enter and exit a game.

Train announcers are responsible for reading prepared scripts containing details and data related to train schedules and safety procedures. Their job is to provide information rather than entertainment.

The following are examples of types of public address system and other announcers:

  • Party DJs are hired to provide music and commentary at an event, such as a wedding, a birthday party, or a corporate party. Many of these DJs use digital files or portable media devices.
  • Emcees host planned events. They introduce speakers or performers to the audience. They may tell jokes or provide commentary to transition from one speaker to the next.

Work Environment

Radio and television announcers

Radio and television announcers work with a variety of studio equipment.

Public address system and other announcers held about 11,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of public address system and other announcers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 30%
Food services and drinking places 27
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 25

Radio and television announcers held about 41,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of radio and television announcers were as follows:

Radio broadcasting 52%
Self-employed workers 30
Television broadcasting 9
Educational services; state, local, and private 3

Radio and television announcers usually work in well-lit, air-conditioned, soundproof studios. Some radio DJs can produce and record their shows while working from home.

The pressure of deadlines and tight work schedules can be stressful.

Work Schedules

Although most announcers work full time, many work part time.

Many radio and television stations are on air 24 hours a day. Some announcers present early morning shows, while others do late-night programs. Some announcers have to work weekends or on holidays.

The shifts, however, are not as varied as in the past. More stations are recording shows during the day, eliminating the need to have an announcer work overnight hours.

How to Become an Announcer

Radio and television announcers

Many announcers have a bachelor’s degree as well as experience working with radio and television equipment.

Educational requirements for announcers vary. Radio and television announcers typically need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, broadcasting, or communications, along with other experience gained from internships or working at their college radio or television station. Public address announcers typically need a high school diploma with some short-term on-the-job training.

Education

Public address announcers typically need a high school diploma. Radio and television announcers typically need a bachelor’s degree in communications, broadcasting, or journalism, but some jobs only require a high school diploma.

College broadcasting programs offer courses, such as voice and diction, to help students improve their vocal qualities. In addition, these programs prepare students to work with the computer and audio equipment and software used at radio and television studios.

Training

Public address system and other announcers typically need short-term on-the-job training upon being hired. This training allows these announcers to become familiar with the equipment they will be using during sporting and entertainment events. For sports public address announcers, training also may include basic rules and information for the sports they are covering.

Radio and television announcers who have a high school diploma or equivalent only may also need some short-term on-the-job training to learn to operate audio and production equipment.

Other Experience

Some employers expect radio and television announcer applicants to have some announcing experience prior to employment. Applicants typically gain these skills from their college degree program, working on college radio or television stations, or through internships.

Advancement

Because radio and television stations in smaller markets have smaller staff, advancement within the same small-market station is unlikely. Rather, many radio and television announcers advance by relocating to a large-market station.

Announcers typically need a few years at a small-market station to work out the “kinks” of their on-air personalities. During that time, they learn to sound more comfortable and credible as an on-air talent and become more conversational with their cohosts and guests. Therefore, time and experience allow applicants to advance to positions in larger markets, which offer higher pay and more responsibility and challenges.

When making hiring decisions, large-market stations rely on announcers’ personalities and past performance. Radio and television announcers need to have proven that they can attract, engage, and keep the attention of a sizeable audience.

Many stations also rely on radio and television announcers to do other tasks, such as creating and updating a social media presence on social networking sites, making promotional appearances on behalf of the station, or even selling commercial time to advertisers. Therefore, an applicant needs to have demonstrated versatility and flexibility at the smaller market station.

Important Qualities

Computer skills. Announcers, especially those seeking careers in radio or television, should have good computer skills and be able to use editing software and other broadcast-related devices.

Interpersonal skills. Radio and television announcers interview guests and answer phone calls on air. Party disc jockeys (DJs) and emcees should be comfortable working with clients to plan entertainment options.

Persistence. Entry into this occupation is very competitive, and many auditions may be needed for an opportunity to work on the air. Many entry-level announcers must be willing to work for a small station and be flexible to move to a small market to secure their first job.

Research skills. Announcers must research the important topics of the day in order to be knowledgeable enough to comment on them during their program.

Speaking skills. Announcers must have a pleasant and well-controlled voice, good timing, and excellent pronunciation.

Writing skills. Announcers need strong writing skills because they normally write their own material.

Pay

Announcers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Media and communication workers

$54,780

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Radio and television announcers

$31,400

Announcers

$30,830

Public address system and other announcers

$28,940

The median annual wage for public address system and other announcers was $28,940 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,640.

The median annual wage for radio and television announcers was $31,400 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $89,720.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for public address system and other announcers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries $34,660
Food services and drinking places 25,640

In May 2016, the median annual wages for radio and television announcers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Television broadcasting $41,760
Educational services; state, local, and private 38,680
Radio broadcasting 29,120

In general, announcers working in larger markets earn more than those working in smaller markets.

Although most announcers work full time, many work part time.

Many radio and television stations are on air 24 hours a day. Some announcers present early morning shows, and others do late-night programs. Some announcers have to work weekends or on holidays.

The shifts, however, are not as varied as in the past. More stations are recording shows during the day, eliminating the need to have an announcer work overnight hours.

Job Outlook

Announcers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication workers

6%

Public address system and other announcers

3%

Announcers

-8%

Radio and television announcers

-11%

Overall employment of announcers is projected to decline 8 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Employment of radio and television announcers is projected to decline 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. Employment of public address system and other announcers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all occupations.

Continuing consolidation of radio and television stations will limit the employment growth for radio and television announcers. Many stations have consolidated and centralized their programming functions, including on-air announcing positions.

Consolidation among broadcasting companies also may contribute to increasing use of syndicated programming and programs originating outside a station’s viewing or listening area. Radio stations can use voice tracking, also called “cyber jockeying,” to prerecord their segments rather than air them live. A radio announcer, therefore, can record many segments for use at a later date or even on another radio station in another media market.

This technique allows stations to use fewer employees, while still appearing to air live shows, and it can be more cost effective than airing live or local programming. However, it has eliminated most late-night shifts and allowed multiple stations to use material from the same announcer.

In addition, over-the-air radio broadcasts will continue to face competition from an increasing number of online and satellite radio stations. More listeners, particularly younger listeners, are tuning into these stations, which can be personalized and set to play nonstop music based on a listener’s preferences. The growing popularity of these online stations may reduce the amount of time audiences spend listening to traditional radio broadcasts, in turn decreasing the demand for radio DJs.

However, Internet radio and podcasts may positively influence employment growth. Startup costs for these mediums are relatively lower than the costs for land-based radio. These stations can be used to create niche programming or target a specific demographic or listening audience and provide new opportunities for announcers.

In addition, the growing number of national news and satellite stations may increase the demand for local radio and television programs. Listeners want local programs with news and information that are more relevant to their communities instead of nationalized content. Therefore, to distinguish themselves from other stations or other media formats, stations may add local elements to their broadcasts.

Public address system announcers will continue to be needed to present important information to customers or provide entertainment for special events.

Job Prospects

Strong competition is expected for people seeking jobs as a radio or television announcer. Many of the openings will be due to people leaving jobs and the need to replace workers who move out of smaller markets or out of the radio or television fields entirely.

Applicants need to be persistent and flexible because many entry-level positions will require moving to a smaller market city. Small radio and television stations are more inclined to hire beginners, but the pay is low.

Those with a formal education in journalism, broadcasting, or mass communications and with hands-on work experience at a radio or television network will have the best job prospects.

In addition, because announcers may be responsible for gathering video or audio for their programs or for updating and maintaining the station’s website, multimedia and computer skills are beneficial.

Employment projections data for announcers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Announcers 27-3010 52,700 48,500 -8 -4,100 employment projections excel document xlsx

Radio and television announcers

27-3011 41,300 36,800 -11 -4,500 employment projections excel document xlsx

Public address system and other announcers

27-3012 11,400 11,800 3 400 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of announcers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Actors

Actors

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Some college, no degree The annual wage is not available.
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies. See How to Become One $42,550
Musicians and singers

Musicians and Singers

Musicians and singers play instruments or sing for live audiences and in recording studios. No formal educational credential The annual wage is not available.
Producers and directors

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $70,950
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio. Bachelor’s degree $38,870
Writers and authors

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs. Bachelor’s degree $61,240
Quick Facts: Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Summary

broadcast and sound engineering technicians image

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians operate controls to ensure quality audio and video recordings for radio and television broadcasts.
Quick Facts: Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians
2016 Median Pay $42,550 per year
$20.46 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 134,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 10,700

What Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians Do

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

Work Environment

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, and recording studios. They can also work in hotels, arenas, or in offices and school buildings.

How to Become a Broadcast or Sound Engineering Technician

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, they may need either a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.

Pay

The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $42,550 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to stem from businesses, schools, and entertainment industries seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities. They will need technicians to set up, operate, and maintain new technologically advanced equipment.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for broadcast and sound engineering technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of broadcast and sound engineering technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about broadcast and sound engineering technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians Do

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians operate equipment in schools and office buildings.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

Duties

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate, monitor, and adjust audio, video, lighting, and broadcast equipment to ensure consistent quality
  • Set up and take down equipment for events and live performances
  • Record speech, music, and other sounds on recording equipment or computers, sometimes using complex software
  • Synchronize sounds and dialogue with action taking place on television or in movie productions
  • Convert video and audio records to digital formats for editing on computers
  • Install audio, video, and lighting equipment in hotels, offices, and schools
  • Report any problems that arise with complex equipment and make routine repairs
  • Keep records of recordings and equipment used

These workers may be called broadcast or sound engineering techniciansoperators, or engineers. At smaller radio and television stations, broadcast and sound technicians may do many jobs. At larger stations, they are likely to do more specialized work, although their job assignments may vary from day to day. They set up and operate audio and video equipment, and the kind of equipment they use may depend on the particular type of technician or industry.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians share many of the same responsibilities, but their duties may vary with their specific area of focus. The following are examples of types of broadcast and sound engineering technicians:

Audio and video equipment technicians set up and operate audio and video equipment. They also connect wires and cables and set up and operate sound and mixing boards and related electronic equipment.

Audio and video equipment technicians work with microphones, speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, and recording equipment. The equipment they operate is used for meetings, concerts, sports events, conventions, and news conferences. In addition, they may operate equipment at conferences and at presentations for businesses and universities.

Audio and video equipment technicians also may set up and operate custom lighting systems. They frequently work directly with clients and must provide solutions to problems in a simple, clear manner.

Broadcast technicians, also known as broadcast engineers, set up, operate, and maintain equipment that regulates the signal strength, clarity, and ranges of sounds and colors for radio or television broadcasts. They operate transmitters, either in studios or on location in the field, to broadcast radio or television programs. Broadcast technicians also use computer programs to edit audio and video recordings.

Sound engineering technicians, also known as audio engineers or sound mixers, operate computers and equipment that record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions. They record audio performances or events and may combine audio tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product.

Work Environment

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians work with a variety of electronic and recording equipment.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians held about 134,300 jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up broadcast and sound engineering technicians was distributed as follows:

Audio and video equipment technicians 83,300
Broadcast technicians 34,000
Sound engineering technicians 17,000

The largest employers of broadcast and sound engineering technicians were as follows:

Radio and television broadcasting 20%
Motion picture and sound recording industries 16
Self-employed workers 10
Real estate and rental and leasing 10
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 10

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically work indoors in radio, television, movie, or recording studios. However, some work outdoors in all types of conditions in order to broadcast news and other programming on location. Audio and video technicians also set up systems in offices, arenas, hotels, schools, hospitals, and homes.

Technicians doing maintenance may climb poles or antenna towers; those setting up equipment may do heavy lifting.

Work Schedules

Technicians typically work full time. Some may occasionally work overtime to meet broadcast deadlines or set up for live events. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common because most radio and television stations are on the air 24 hours a day.

Technicians who work on motion pictures may be on a tight schedule and may work additional hours to meet contract deadlines with the movie studio.

How to Become a Broadcast or Sound Engineering Technician

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Most broadcast and sound engineering technicians have an associate’s degree or vocational certification, although some are hired with a high school diploma.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, they may need either a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.

Education

Audio and video equipment technicians, as well as sound engineering technicians, typically need a postsecondary nondegree award or certificate, whereas broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. However, in some cases, workers in any of these occupations may need only a high school diploma to be eligible for entry-level positions.

Postsecondary nondegree programs for audio and video equipment technicians and sound engineering technicians may take several months to a year to complete. The programs include hands-on experience with the equipment used in many entry-level positions.

Broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. In addition to courses in math and science, coursework for prospective broadcast technicians should emphasize practical skills such as video editing and production management.

Prospective broadcast and sound engineering technicians should complete high school courses in math, physics, and electronics. They must have excellent computer skills to be successful.

Training

Because technology is constantly improving, technicians often enroll in continuing education courses, and they receive on-the-job training to become skilled in new equipment and hardware. On-the-job training includes setting up cables or automation systems, testing electrical equipment, learning the codes and standards of the industry, and following safety procedures.

Training for new hires can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on the types of products and services the employer provides. In addition, the level of education a new hire has achieved can also dictate how much training is required. Those entering the occupation with only a high school diploma or equivalent would likely need a longer period of on-the-job training, compared with those who have postsecondary education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required by most employers, earning voluntary certification will offer advantages in getting a job as a broadcast or sound engineering technician. Certification tells employers that the technician meets certain industry standards and has kept up to date with new technologies.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight broadcast engineering certifications, two operator certifications, and one broadcast networking certification. All of them require passing an exam.

InfoComm International offers the general Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) credential as well as the design CTS and installation CTS. All three credentials require passing an exam and are valid for 3 years.

Other Experience

Practical experience working in a high school or college audiovisual department also can help prepare someone to be an audio and video equipment technician.

Advancement

Although many broadcast and sound engineering technicians work first in small markets or at small stations in big markets, after they gain the necessary experience and skills they often transfer to larger, better paying radio or television stations. Few large stations hire someone without previous experience, and they value more specialized skills.

Experienced workers with strong technical skills can become supervisory broadcast technicians or chief broadcast engineers. To become chief broadcast engineer at large television stations, technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technicians need to communicate with supervisors and coworkers to ensure that clients’ needs are met and that equipment is set up properly before broadcasts, live performances, and presentations.

Computer skills. Technicians use computer systems to program equipment and edit audio and video recordings.

Manual dexterity. Some technicians set up audio and visual equipment and cables, a job that requires a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination. Others adjust small knobs, dials, and sliders during radio and television broadcasts and live performances.

Problem-solving skills. Technicians need to recognize equipment problems and propose possible solutions to them. Employers typically desire applicants with a variety of skills, such as setting up equipment, maintaining the equipment, and troubleshooting and solving any problems that arise.

Pay

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2016

Media and communication equipment workers

$45,680

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

$42,550

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $42,550 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $84,520.

Median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in May 2016 were as follows:

Sound engineering technicians $53,680
Audio and video equipment technicians 42,230
Broadcast technicians 38,550

In May 2016, the median annual wages for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and sound recording industries $50,230
Arts, entertainment, and recreation 42,820
Real estate and rental and leasing 39,400
Radio and television broadcasting 36,380

Technicians working in major cities typically earn more than those working in smaller markets.

Technicians usually work full time. Some may occasionally work overtime to meet broadcast deadlines or set up for live events. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common because most radio and television stations are on the air 24 hours a day.

Technicians who work on motion pictures may be on a tight schedule and may work additional hours to meet contract deadlines with the movie studio.

Job Outlook

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication equipment workers

2%

Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment of audio and visual equipment technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. More audio and video technicians should be needed to set up new equipment or upgrade and maintain old, complex systems for a variety of organizations.

More companies are increasing their audio and video budgets so they can use video conferencing to reduce travel costs and communicate worldwide with other offices and clients. In addition, an increase in the use of digital signs across a wide variety of industries, such as schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores should lead to higher demand for audio and video equipment technicians.

Schools and universities are also seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities in order to attract and keep the best students. More audio and visual technicians may be needed to install and maintain interactive whiteboards and wireless projectors so teachers can give multimedia presentations and record lectures.

Employment of broadcast technicians is projected to decline 3 percent from 2016 to 2026. More consumers may choose free over-the-air television programming instead of cable or satellite services, in a practice commonly referred to as “cord-cutting.” This may contribute to stronger demand for broadcast television. However, most major networks use a single facility to broadcast to multiple stations, which limits the growth potential for broadcast technicians.

Employment of sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The television and motion picture industry will continue to need technicians to improve the sound quality of shows and movies.

Job Prospects

Competition for jobs will be strong. This occupation attracts many applicants who are interested in working with the latest technology and electronic equipment. Many applicants also are attracted to working in the radio and television industry.

Those looking for work in this industry will have the most job opportunities in smaller markets or stations. Those with hands-on experience with complex electronics and software or with work experience at a radio or television station will have the best job prospects. In addition, technicians should be versatile, because they set up, operate, and maintain equipment.

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in broadcast technology, broadcast production, computer networking, or a related field also will improve job prospects for applicants.

Employment projections data for broadcast and sound engineering technicians, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians 134,300 145,000 8 10,700

Audio and video equipment technicians

27-4011 83,300 94,000 13 10,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

Broadcast technicians

27-4012 34,000 32,900 -3 -1,100 employment projections excel document xlsx

Sound engineering technicians

27-4014 17,000 18,100 6 1,100 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of broadcast and sound engineering technicians.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Computer support specialists

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations. These specialists either support computer networks or they provide technical assistance directly to computer users. See How to Become One $52,160
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, and use measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation. Associate’s degree $62,190
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries. See How to Become One $55,920
Film and video editors and camera operators

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $59,040
Radio and television announcers

Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these or other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs. See How to Become One $30,830
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio. Bachelor’s degree $38,870
Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers

Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, also known as telecom technicians, set up and maintain devices that carry communications signals, such as telephone lines and Internet routers. Postsecondary nondegree award $53,640
Quick Facts: Editors

Editors

Summary

editors image

Editors plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication.
Quick Facts: Editors
2016 Median Pay $57,210 per year
$27.51 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 127,400
Job Outlook, 2016-26 0% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2016-26 -100

What Editors Do

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Work Environment

Although most editors work in offices, a growing number now work remotely from home. The work can be stressful because editors often have tight deadlines.

How to Become an Editor

Proficiency with computers and a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English are typically required to become an editor.

Pay

The median annual wage for editors was $57,210 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of editors is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026, as print media continue to face strong pressure from online publications. Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for editors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of editors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about editors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Editors Do

Editors

Editors constantly work under pressure to meet deadlines.

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Duties

Editors typically do the following:

  • Read content and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors
  • Rewrite text to make it easier for readers to understand
  • Verify facts cited in material for publication
  • Evaluate submissions from writers to decide what to publish
  • Work with writers to help their ideas and stories succeed
  • Develop story and content ideas according to the publication’s style and editorial policy
  • Allocate space for the text, photos, and illustrations that make up a story
  • Approve final versions submitted by staff
  • Promote articles and content on various social media networks

Editors plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication in books, newspapers, magazines, or websites. Editors review story ideas and decide what material will appeal most to readers. During the review process, editors offer comments to improve the product, and suggest titles and headlines. In smaller organizations, a single editor may perform all of the editorial duties or share them with only a few other people.

The following are examples of types of editors:

Copy editors proofread text for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling and check for readability, style, and agreement with editorial policy. They suggest revisions, such as changing words and rearranging sentences and paragraphs to improve clarity or accuracy. They also may carry out research, confirm sources, and verify facts, dates, and statistics. In addition, they may arrange page layouts of articles, photographs, and advertising.

Publication assistants who work for book-publishing houses may read and evaluate manuscripts, proofread uncorrected drafts, and answer questions about published material. Assistants on small newspapers or in smaller media markets may compile articles available from wire services or the Internet, answer phones, and proofread articles.

Assistant editors are responsible for a particular subject, such as local news, international news, feature stories, or sports. Most assistant editors work for newspaper publishers, television broadcasters, magazines, book publishers, or advertising and public relations firms.

Executive editors oversee assistant editors and generally have the final say about what stories are published and how they are covered. Executive editors typically hire writersreporters, and other employees. They also plan budgets and negotiate contracts with freelance writers, who are sometimes called “stringers” in the news industry. Although many executive editors work for newspaper publishers, some work for television broadcasters, magazines, or advertising and public relations firms.

Managing editors typically work for magazines, newspaper publishers, and television broadcasters, and are responsible for the daily operations of a news department.

Work Environment

Editors

Editors usually work full time in offices.

Editors held about 127,400 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of editors were as follows:

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 39%
Self-employed workers 20
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 8
Professional, scientific, and technical services 7
Other information services 6

Although most editors work in offices, a growing number now work remotely from home. They often use desktop or electronic publishing software, scanners, and other electronic communications equipment to produce their material.

Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC—but improved communications and Internet capabilities are allowing editors to work from a greater variety of locations.

Overseeing and coordinating multiple writing projects simultaneously is common among editors and may lead to stress or fatigue.

Self-employed editors face the added pressures of finding work on an ongoing basis and continually adjusting to new work environments.

Work Schedules

Most editors work full time, and their schedules are generally determined by production deadlines and the type of editorial position. Editors typically work in busy offices and have to deal with production deadline pressures and the stresses of ensuring that the information they publish is accurate. As a result, editors often work many hours, especially at those times leading up to a publication deadline. These work hours can be even more frequent when an editor is working on digital material for the Internet or for a live broadcast. About 1 in 5 editors worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016.

How to Become an Editor

editors image

A college degree is typically required for someone to be an editor.

A bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English, combined with previous writing and proofreading experience, is typically required to be an editor.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. They also prefer candidates who have experience in a few types of media, such as newspapers, social media, and television.

Candidates with other backgrounds who can show strong writing skills also may find jobs as editors. Editors who deal with specific subject matter may need previous related work experience. For example, fashion editors may need expertise in fashion that they gain through formal training or work experience.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many editors start off as editorial assistants, writers, or reporters.

Those who are particularly skilled at identifying good stories, recognizing writing talent, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.

Other Experience

Editors also can gain experience by working on high school and college newspapers, and for magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. Magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. For example, the American Society of Magazine Editors offers a Magazine Internship Program to qualified full-time students in their junior or senior year of college. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

The ability to use computers is necessary for editors to stay in touch with writers and other editors. Familiarity with electronic publishing, graphics, Web design, social media, and multimedia production is also important, because more content is being offered online.

Advancement

Some editors hold management positions and must make decisions related to running a business. For them, advancement generally means moving up to publications with larger circulation or greater prestige. Copy editors may move into original writing or substantive editing positions, or become freelancers.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Editors must be creative, curious, and knowledgeable in a broad range of topics. Some editors must regularly come up with interesting story ideas and attention-grabbing headlines.

Detail oriented. One of an editor’s main tasks is to make sure that material is error free and matches the style of a publication.

Good judgment. Editors must decide if certain stories are ethical or if there is enough evidence to report them.

Interpersonal skills. In working with writers, editors must have tact and the ability to guide and encourage them in their work.

Writing skills. Editors must ensure that all written content has correct grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Editors must write clearly and logically.

Pay

Editors

Median annual wages, May 2016

Editors

$57,210

Media and communication workers

$54,780

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for editors was $57,210 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,610.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for editors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $63,920
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 63,420
Other information services 57,200
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 54,510

Most editors work full time, and their schedules are generally determined by production deadlines and the type of editorial position. Editors typically work in busy offices and have to deal with production deadline pressures and the stresses of ensuring that the information they publish is accurate. As a result, editors often work many hours, especially at those times leading up to a publication deadline. These work hours can be even more frequent when an editor is working on digital material for the Internet or for a live broadcast. About 1 in 5 editors worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016.

Job Outlook

Editors

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication workers

6%

Editors

0%

Employment of editors is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026, as print media continues to face strong pressure from online publications.

Despite some job growth for editors in online media, the number of traditional editing jobs in print newspapers and magazines is declining and will temper employment growth.

Job Prospects

Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong because employment in the publishing industry is projected to decline. Editors who have adapted to online media and are comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools will have an advantage in finding work. Although the way in which people consume media is changing, editors will continue to add value by reviewing and revising drafts and keeping the style and voice of a publication consistent.

Employment projections data for editors, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Editors 27-3041 127,400 127,300 0 -100 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of editors.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio. Bachelor’s degree $38,870
Technical writers

Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels. Bachelor’s degree $69,850
Writers and authors

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs. Bachelor’s degree $61,240
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directorssales agents, and financial staff members. Bachelor’s degree $127,560
Desktop publishers

Desktop Publishers

Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or published online. Associate’s degree $41,090
Quick Facts: Film and Video Editors

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Summary

film and video editors and camera operators image

Film and video editors manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.
Quick Facts: Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
2016 Median Pay $59,040 per year
$28.39 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 59,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 7,200

What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.

Work Environment

Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or in office settings. Camera operators and videographers often shoot raw footage on location.

How to Become a Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.

Pay

The median annual wage for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture was $55,080 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for film and video editors was $62,760 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth may lead to more work for editors and camera operators.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for film and video editors and camera operators.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of film and video editors and camera operators with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about film and video editors and camera operators by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do

Film and video editors and camera operators

Nearly all video editing work is done on a computer.

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience. Camera operators capture a wide range of material for TV shows, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events. Editors take footage shot by camera operators and organize it into a final product. They collaborate with producers and directors to create the final production.

Duties

Film and video editors and camera operators typically do the following:

  • Shoot and record television programs, motion pictures, music videos, documentaries, or news and sporting events
  • Organize digital footage with video-editing software
  • Collaborate with a director to determine the overall vision of the production
  • Discuss filming and editing techniques with a director to improve a scene
  • Select the appropriate equipment, such as the type of lens or lighting
  • Shoot or edit a scene based on the director’s vision

Many camera operators have one or more assistants working under their supervision. The assistants set up the camera equipment and may be responsible for its storage and care. They also help the operator determine the best shooting angle and make sure that the camera stays in focus.

Likewise, editors often have one or more assistants. The assistants support the editor by keeping track of each shot in a database or loading digital video into an editing bay. Assistants also may do some of the editing tasks.

Most operators prefer using digital cameras because these smaller, more inexpensive instruments give them more flexibility in shooting angles. Digital cameras also have changed the job of some camera assistants: Instead of loading film or choosing lenses, they download digital images or choose a type of software program to use with the camera. In addition, drone cameras give operators an opportunity to film in the air, or in places that are hard to reach.

Nearly all editing work is done on a computer, and editors often are trained in a specific type of editing software.

The following are examples of types of camera operators:

Studio camera operators work in a broadcast studio and videotape their subjects from a fixed position. There may be one or several cameras in use at a time. Operators normally follow directions that give the order of the shots. They often have time to practice camera movements before shooting begins. If they are shooting a live event, they must be able to make adjustments at a moment’s notice and follow the instructions of the show’s director. The use of robotic cameras is common among studio camera operators, and one operator may control several cameras at once.

Cinematographers film motion pictures. They usually have a team of camera operators and assistants working under them. They determine the angles and types of equipment that will best capture a shot. They also adjust the lighting in a shot, because that is an important part of how the image looks.

Cinematographers may use stationary cameras that shoot whatever passes in front of them, or they may use a camera mounted on a track and move around the action. Some cinematographers sit on cranes to film an action scene; others carry the camera on their shoulder while they move around the action.

Some cinematographers specialize in filming cartoons or special effects. For information about a career in animation, see multimedia artists and animators.

Videographers film or videotape private ceremonies or special events, such as weddings. They also may work with companies and make corporate documentaries on a variety of topics. Some videographers post their work on video-sharing websites for prospective clients. Most videographers edit their own material.

Many videographers run their own business or do freelance work. They may submit bids, write contracts, and get permission to shoot on locations that may not be open to the public. They also get copyright protection for their work and keep financial records.

Many editors and camera operators, but particularly videographers, put their creative work online. If it becomes popular, they gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance opportunities.

Work Environment

Film and video editors and camera operators

Camera operators work in a variety of conditions and may have to stand for long periods.

Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture held about 25,100 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of camera operators, television, video, and motion picture were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 38%
Radio and television broadcasting 21
Self-employed workers 15
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5
Government 4

Film and video editors held about 34,200 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of film and video editors were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 58%
Self-employed workers 16
Television broadcasting 9
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5

Film and video editors and camera operators typically work in studios or in office settings. Camera operators and videographers often shoot raw footage on location.

Film and video editors work in editing rooms by themselves, or with producers and directors, for many hours at a time. Cinematographers and operators who film movies or TV shows may film on location and be away from home for months at a time. Operators who travel usually must carry heavy equipment to their shooting locations.

Some camera operators work in uncomfortable or even dangerous conditions, such as severe weather, military conflicts, and natural disasters. They may have to stand for long periods waiting for an event to take place. They may carry heavy equipment while on shooting assignment.

Work Schedules

Work hours vary with the type of operator or editor, although most work full time. Those who work in broadcasting may put in additional hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have long, irregular hours while filming, but go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.

How to Become a Film and Video Editor or Camera Operator

Film and video editors and camera operators

Most editor and camera operator positions require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.

Film and video editors and camera operators typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting.

Education

Most editor and camera operator positions require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting, such as communications. Many colleges offer courses in cinematography or video-editing software. Coursework involves a mix of film theory with practical training.

Film and video editors and camera operators must have an understanding of digital cameras and editing software because both are now used on film sets.

Training

Editors may complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some employers may offer new employees training in the type of specialized editing software those employers use. Most editors eventually specialize in one type of software, but beginners should be familiar with as many types as possible.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Editors may demonstrate competence in various types of editing software by earning certification, which is generally offered by software vendors. Certification requires passing a comprehensive exam, and candidates can prepare for the exam on their own, through online tutorials, or through classroom instruction.

Advancement

Experienced film and video editors and camera operators with creativity and leadership skills can advance to overseeing their own projects. For more information, see the profile on producers and directors.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must communicate with other members of a production team, including producers and directors, to ensure that the project goes smoothly.

Computer skills. Film and video editors must use sophisticated editing software.

Creativity. Film and video editors and camera operators should be able to imagine what the result of their filming or editing will look like to an audience.

Detail oriented. Editors look at every frame of film and decide what should be kept or cut in order to maintain the best content.

Hand–eye coordination. Camera operators need to be able to move about the action while holding a camera steady.

Physical stamina. Camera operators may need to carry heavy equipment for long periods, particularly when they are filming on location.

Visual skills. Film and video editors and camera operators must see clearly what they are filming or editing in the postproduction process.

Pay

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Median annual wages, May 2016

Film and video editors

$62,760

Film and video editors and camera operators

$59,040

Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture

$55,080

Media and communication equipment workers

$45,680

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture was $55,080 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $109,200.

The median annual wage for film and video editors was $62,760 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,640, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $162,260.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for camera operators, television, video, and motion picture in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries $59,780
Professional, scientific, and technical services 53,800
Government 52,660
Radio and television broadcasting 48,950

In May 2016, the median annual wages for film and video editors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries $67,000
Professional, scientific, and technical services 53,970
Television broadcasting 52,710

Work hours vary with the type of operator or editor, although most work full time. Those who work in broadcasting may put in long hours to meet a deadline. Those who work in the motion picture industry may have long, irregular hours while filming, but go through a period of looking for work once a film is complete and before they are hired for their next job.

Job Outlook

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Film and video editors

16%

Film and video editors and camera operators

12%

Total, all occupations

7%

Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture

6%

Media and communication equipment workers

2%

Employment of film and video editors is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 5,600 new jobs over the 10-year period.

Employment of camera operators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

The number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth may lead to more work for editors and camera operators.

In broadcasting, the consolidation of roles—such as editors who determine the best angles for a shoot, the use of robotic cameras, and the increasing reliance on amateur film footage—may lead to fewer jobs for camera operators. However, more film and video editors are expected to be needed because of an increase in special effects and overall available content.

Job Prospects

Most job openings are projected to be in entertainment hubs such as New York and Los Angeles because specialized editing workers are in demand there. Still, film and video editors and camera operators will face strong competition for jobs. Those with more experience at a TV station or on a film set should have the best prospects. Video editors can improve their prospects by developing skills with different types of specialized editing software.

Employment projections data for film and video editors and camera operators, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Television, video, and motion picture camera operators and editors 27-4030 59,300 66,500 12 7,200 employment projections excel document xlsx

Camera operators, television, video, and motion picture

27-4031 25,100 26,700 6 1,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

Film and video editors

27-4032 34,200 39,800 16 5,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of film and video editors and camera operators.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies. See How to Become One $42,550
Editors

Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication. Bachelor’s degree $57,210
Multimedia artists and animators

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media. Bachelor’s degree $65,300
Photographers

Photographers

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event. High school diploma or equivalent $34,070
Producers and directors

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $70,950
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio. Bachelor’s degree $38,870
Quick Facts: Photographer

Photographers

Summary

photographers image

Some photographers travel for photo shoots, and others work in their own studios.
Quick Facts: Photographers
2016 Median Pay $34,070 per year
$16.38 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 147,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 -8% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2016-26 -12,400

What Photographers Do

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event.

Work Environment

Working conditions for photographers vary considerably with their specialty. Some travel for photo shoots; others work in their own studios. Still others work in laboratories and use microscopes to photograph subjects.

How to Become a Photographer

Although postsecondary education is not required for portrait photographers, many take classes because employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye” and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photojournalists and industrial and scientific photographers often need a bachelor’s degree.

Pay

The median hourly wage for photographers was $16.38 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of photographers is projected to decline 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. Salaried jobs may be more difficult to find as more companies contract with freelancers rather than hire their own photographers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for photographers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of photographers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about photographers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Photographers Do

Photographers

Photographers capture subjects in commercial-quality photographs.

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event.

Duties

Photographers typically do the following:

  • Market and advertise services to attract clients
  • Analyze and plan the composition of photographs
  • Use various photographic techniques and lighting equipment
  • Capture subjects in commercial-quality photographs
  • Enhance the subject’s appearance with natural or artificial light
  • Use photo-enhancing software
  • Maintain a digital portfolio to demonstrate their work
  • Archive and manage imagery

Today, most photographers use digital cameras instead of the traditional film cameras. Digital cameras capture images electronically, so the photographer can edit the image on a computer. Images can be stored on portable memory devices, such as compact disks, memory cards, and flash drives. Once the raw image has been transferred to a computer, photographers can use processing software to crop or modify the image and enhance it through color correction and other specialized effects. Photographers who edit their own pictures use computers, high-quality printers, and editing software.

Some photographers use drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, to capture shots. The drones are equipped with an integrated camera to capture 360° imagery of buildings, landscapes, scenery, or events.

Photographers who work for commercial clients often will present finalized photographs in a digital format to the client. Wedding and portrait photographers, who serve primarily noncommercial clients, frequently also provide framing services and present the photographs they capture in albums.

Many photographers are self-employed. Photographers who own and operate their own business have additional responsibilities. They must advertise, schedule appointments, set up and adjust equipment, purchase supplies, keep records, bill customers, pay bills, and—if they have employees—hire, train, and direct their workers.

In addition, some photographers teach photography classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios.

The following are examples of types of photographers:

Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and usually work in their own studios. Photographers who specialize in weddings, religious ceremonies, or school photographs may work on location.

Commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of various subjects, such as buildings, models, merchandise, artifacts, and landscapes. These photographs, which frequently are taken on location, are used for a variety of purposes, including magazine covers and images to supplement analyses of engineering projects.

Aerial photographers travel in planes or helicopters to capture photographs of buildings and landscapes. They often use cameras with gyrostabilizers to counteract the movement of the aircraft and ensure high-quality images.

Scientific photographers focus on the accurate visual representation of subjects and therefore limit the use of image manipulation software to clarify an image. Scientific photographs record scientific or medical data or phenomena. Scientific photographers who take pictures of objects too small to be seen with the naked eye use microscopes to photograph their subjects.

News photographers, also called photojournalists, photograph people, places, and events for newspapers, journals, magazines, or television. In addition to taking still photos, photojournalists often work with digital video.

Fine-arts photographers sell their photographs as artwork. In addition to having technical knowledge of subjects such as lighting and the use of lenses, fine arts photographers need artistic talent and creativity. Most use traditional film instead of digital cameras.

Work Environment

Photographers

Most photographers stand or walk for long periods while carrying heavy equipment.

Photographers held about 147,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of photographers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 68%
Photographic services 18
Broadcasting (except Internet) 2
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 2

The work environment for photographers varies considerably with their specialty.

Portrait photographers may work in studios, but they also often travel to take photographs at a client’s location, such as a school, a company office, or a private home.

News photographers and commercial photographers may travel locally or internationally. News photographers often work long, irregular hours in uncomfortable or even dangerous surroundings and must be available to work on short notice. For example, a news photographer may be sent to a war zone to capture images.

Aerial photographers often work in planes or helicopters.

Most photographers stand or walk for long periods while carrying heavy equipment.

Work Schedules

About 3 in 10 photographers worked part time in 2016. Hours often are flexible so that photographers can meet with current and potential clients or visit the sites where they will work. Demand for certain types of photographers may fluctuate with the season. For example, the demand for wedding photographers typically increases in the spring and summer.

How to Become a Photographer

Photographers

Portrait photographers take pictures of individuals or groups of people and usually work in their own studios.

Although postsecondary education is not required for portrait photographers, many take classes because employers usually seek applicants with a “good eye” and creativity, as well as a good technical understanding of photography. Photojournalists and industrial and scientific photographers often need a bachelor’s degree.

Education

Although postsecondary education is not required for most photographers, many take classes or earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field because such an education can improve their skills and employment prospects.

Many universities, community and junior colleges, vocational–technical institutes, and private trade and technical schools offer classes in photography. Basic courses in photography cover equipment, processes, and techniques. Art schools may offer useful training in photographic design and composition.

Entry-level positions in photojournalism or in industrial or scientific photography generally require a college degree in photography or in a field related to the industry in which the photographer seeks employment. For example, classes in biology, medicine, or chemistry may be useful for scientific photographers.

Business, marketing, and accounting classes can be helpful for self-employed photographers.

Training

Photographers have a talent or natural ability for taking good photos, and this talent is typically cultivated over years of practice. Photographers often start working as an assistant to a professional photographer, learning on the job. This work provides an opportunity to gain experience, build the photographers’ portfolios, and gain exposure to prospective clients. In addition, photographers must be trained on how to use picture-editing software.

For many artists, including photographers, developing a portfolio—a collection or archive of a photographer’s or artist’s work that demonstrates his or her styles and abilities—is essential. A portfolio is necessary because art directors, clients, and others often want to look at one when deciding whether to hire or contract with a particular photographer.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Photographers who commercially operate drones, or unmanned aerial systems (UASs), must obtain certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as a hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to operate a small UAS safely
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

For specific guidelines and information, visit the FAA website on unmanned aircraft systems.

Important Qualities

Artistic ability. Photographers capture their subjects in images, and they must evaluate the artistic quality of a photograph. Photographers need a “good eye”: the ability to use colors, shadows, shades, light, and distance to compose good photographs.

Business skills. Photographers must plan marketing strategies, reach out to prospective clients, and anticipate seasonal employment.

Computer skills. Most photographers do their own postproduction work and must be familiar with photo-editing software. They also use computers to maintain a digital portfolio.

Customer-service skills. Photographers must understand the needs of their clients and propose solutions to any problems that arise.

Detail oriented. Photographers who do their own postproduction work must be careful not to overlook details and must be thorough when editing photographs. In addition, photographers accumulate many photographs and must maintain them in an orderly fashion.

Interpersonal skills. Photographers often photograph people. They must communicate and be flexible when working with clients in order to achieve the desired composition in a photograph.

Pay

Photographers

Median hourly wages, May 2016

Media and communication equipment workers

$21.96

Total, all occupations

$17.81

Photographers

$16.38

The median hourly wage for photographers was $16.38 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.19, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $36.65.

In May 2016, the median hourly wages for photographers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Broadcasting (except Internet) $21.55
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 19.72
Photographic services 14.43

About 3 in 10 photographers worked part time in 2016. Hours often are flexible so that photographers can meet with current and potential clients or visit the sites where they will work. Demand for certain types of photographers may fluctuate with the season. For example, the demand for wedding photographers typically increases in the spring and summer.

Job Outlook

Photographers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication equipment workers

2%

Photographers

-8%

Employment of photographers is projected to decline 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. The decreasing cost of digital cameras and the increasing number of amateur photographers and hobbyists will reduce the need for professional photographers. In addition, stock photographic services available online give individuals and businesses access to stock photographs for a fee or subscription, possibly dampening demand for photographers.

However, the application of newer technologies, such as drone photography, may contribute to increased demand for these workers in a variety of ways. For example, drone photography in the commercial sector enables the capturing of images and information for agricultural land, real estate, and new construction projects. In addition, drone photography enables the photographer to create visuals of tall structures, such as cell towers and bridges that are in need of repair. Drone photography at weddings or special events can also capture scenic aerial portraits.

Employment of self-employed photographers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026. Demand for portrait photographers will remain as people continue to want new portraits. In addition, corporations will continue to require the services of commercial photographers to develop compelling advertisements to sell products.

Declines in the newspaper industry will reduce demand for news photographers to provide still images for print. Employment of photographers in newspaper publishing is projected to decline 34 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Job Prospects

Photographers will face strong competition for most jobs. Because of reduced barriers to entry, there will be many qualified candidates for relatively few positions.

In addition, salaried jobs may be more difficult to obtain as companies increasingly contract with freelancers rather than hire their own photographers. Job prospects will be best for candidates who are multitalented and possess related skills, such as editing pictures and capturing digital video.

Employment projections data for photographers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Photographers 27-4021 147,300 134,900 -8 -12,400 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of photographers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Architects

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures. Bachelor’s degree $76,930
Art directors

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts. Bachelor’s degree $89,820
Craft and fine artists

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one. See How to Become One $48,780
Desktop publishers

Desktop Publishers

Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for newspapers, books, brochures, and other items that are printed or published online. Associate’s degree $41,090
Fashion designers

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers create original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they design. Bachelor’s degree $65,170
Film and video editors and camera operators

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $59,040
Graphic designers

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports. Bachelor’s degree $47,640
Industrial designers

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts. Bachelor’s degree $67,790
Models

Models

Models pose for artists, photographers, and other clients to help advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food, and appliances. Models also work as fit or fitting models, enabling the manufacturer or fashion designer to achieve the best fit for new styles. No formal educational credential $21,870
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio. Bachelor’s degree $38,870
Quick Facts: Public Relations Specialist

Public Relations Specialists

Summary

public relations specialists image

Public relations specialists design media releases to shape public perception of their organization.
Quick Facts: Public Relations Specialists
2016 Median Pay $58,020 per year
$27.89 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 259,600
Job Outlook, 2016-26 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 23,300

What Public Relations Specialists Do

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals.

Work Environment

Public relations specialists usually work in offices. Some attend community activities or events. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Pay

The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $58,020 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need for organizations to maintain their public image will continue to drive employment growth. Candidates can expect strong competition for jobs at advertising and public relations firms and organizations with large media exposure.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for public relations specialists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of public relations specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about public relations specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Public Relations Specialists Do

public relations specialists image

Public relations specialists evaluate advertising and promotion programs.

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and increase awareness of its work and goals.

Duties

Public relations specialists typically do the following:

  • Write press releases and prepare information for the media
  • Respond to information requests from the media
  • Help clients communicate effectively with the public
  • Help maintain their organization’s corporate image and identity
  • Draft speeches and arrange interviews for an organization’s top executives
  • Evaluate advertising and promotion programs to determine whether they are compatible with their organization’s public relations efforts
  • Evaluate public opinion of clients through social media

Public relations specialists, also called communications specialists and media specialists, handle an organization’s communication with the public, including consumers, investors, reporters, and other media specialists. In government, public relations specialists may be called press secretaries. In this setting, workers keep the public informed about the activities of government officials and agencies.

Public relations specialists draft press releases and contact people in the media who might print or broadcast their material. Many radio or television special reports, newspaper stories, and magazine articles start at the desks of public relations specialists. For example, a press release might describe a public issue, such as health, energy, or the environment, and what an organization does concerning that issue.

Press releases are increasingly being sent through the Internet and social media, in addition to publication through traditional media outlets. Public relations specialists are often in charge of monitoring and responding to social media questions and concerns.

Public relations specialists are different from advertisers in that they get their stories covered by media instead of purchasing ad space in publications and on television.

Work Environment

public relations specialists image

Public relations specialists work in many different industries.

Public relations specialists held about 259,600 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of public relations specialists were as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services 15%
Educational services; state, local, and private 11
Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations 9
Government 9

Public relations specialists usually work in offices, but they also deliver speeches, attend meetings and community activities, and occasionally travel.

Work Schedules

Most public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist

public relations specialists image

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree.

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. Employers prefer candidates who have studied public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Education

Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business. Through such programs, students produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates their ability to prospective employers.

Other Experience

Internships at public relations firms or in the public relations departments of other businesses can be helpful in getting a job as a public relations specialist.

Some employers prefer candidates who have experience communicating with others through a school newspaper or a leadership position in school or in their community.

Important Qualities

Interpersonal skills. Public relations specialists deal with the public and the media regularly; therefore, they must be open and friendly in order to maintain a favorable image for their organization.

Organizational skills. Public relations specialists are often in charge of managing several events at the same time, requiring superior organizational skills.

Problem-solving skills. Public relations specialists sometimes must explain how a company or client is handling sensitive issues. They must use good judgment in what they report and how they report it.

Speaking skills. Public relations specialists regularly speak on behalf of their organization. When doing so, they must be able to clearly explain the organization’s position.

Writing skills. Public relations specialists must be able to write well-organized and clear press releases and speeches. They must be able to grasp the key messages they want to get across and write them in a short, succinct way, to get the attention of busy readers or listeners.

Pay

Public Relations Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2016

Public relations specialists

$58,020

Media and communication workers

$54,780

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $58,020 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,090, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $110,560.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for public relations specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government $62,400
Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations 60,250
Advertising, public relations, and related services 59,490
Educational services; state, local, and private 53,840

Most public relations specialists work full time during regular business hours. Long workdays are common, as is overtime.

Job Outlook

Public Relations Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Public relations specialists

9%

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication workers

6%

Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Organizations will continue to emphasize community outreach and customer relations as a way to maintain and enhance their reputation and visibility. Public opinion can change quickly, particularly because both good and bad news spread rapidly through the Internet. Consequently, public relations specialists will be needed to respond to news developments and maintain their organization’s reputation.

The growing use of social media also is expected to increase employment for public relations specialists. This will create more work for public relations specialists as they try to appeal to consumers and the general public in new ways. Public relations specialists will be needed to help their clients use these new types of social media effectively.

Job Prospects

Because many college graduates apply for a limited amount of public relations positions each year, candidates can expect strong competition for jobs.

Candidates can expect particularly strong competition at advertising firms, organizations with large media exposure, and at prestigious public relations firms.

Employment projections data for public relations specialists, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Public relations specialists 27-3031 259,600 283,000 9 23,300 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of public relations specialists.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directorssales agents, and financial staff members. Bachelor’s degree $127,560
Advertising sales agents

Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain client accounts. High school diploma or equivalent $50,380
Editors

Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication. Bachelor’s degree $57,210
Market research analysts

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price. Bachelor’s degree $62,560
Meeting, convention, and event planners

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Meeting, convention, and event planners coordinate all aspects of events and professional meetings. They arrange meeting locations, transportation, and other details. Bachelor’s degree $47,350
Multimedia artists and animators

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media. Bachelor’s degree $65,300
Public relations managers and specialists

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization. Bachelor’s degree $107,320
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain the features of the products they are selling, negotiate prices, and answer any questions that their customers may have about the products. See How to Become One $60,530
Writers and authors

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs. Bachelor’s degree $61,240
Quick Facts: Reporters and Correspondents

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Summary

reporters correspondents and broadcast news analysts image

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally.
Quick Facts: Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts
2016 Median Pay $38,870 per year
$18.69 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 50,400
Job Outlook, 2016-26 -10% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2016-26 -4,800

What Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts Do

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Work Environment

Most reporters and correspondents work for newspaper, website, or periodical publishers or in television or radio broadcasting. Broadcast news analysts mainly work in television and radio.

How to Become a Reporter, Correspondent, or Broadcast News Analyst

Employers generally prefer workers who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications along with an internship or work experience from a college radio or television station or a newspaper.

Pay

The median annual wage for broadcast news analysts was $56,680 in May 2016.

The median annual wage for reporters and correspondents was $37,820 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is projected to decline 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. Declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers, and television will have a negative impact on employment growth for these occupations.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts Do

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters that work in television set up and conduct interviews, which may be broadcast live or recorded for future broadcasts.

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio.

Duties

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts typically do the following:

  • Research topics and stories that an editor or news director has assigned to them
  • Investigate new story ideas and pitch ideas to editors
  • Interview people who have information, analysis, or opinions about a story or article
  • Write articles for newspapers, blogs, or magazines and write scripts to be read on television or radio
  • Review articles for accuracy and proper style and grammar
  • Develop relationships with experts and contacts who provide tips and leads on stories
  • Analyze and interpret information to increase their audiences’ understanding of the news
  • Update stories as new information becomes available

Reporters and correspondents, also called journalists, often work for a particular type of media organization, such as a television or radio station, newspaper, or website.

Those who work in television and radio set up and conduct interviews, which can be broadcast live or recorded for future broadcasts. These workers are often responsible for editing interviews and other recordings to create a cohesive story and for writing and recording voiceovers that provide the audience with the facts of the story. They may create multiple versions of the same story for different broadcasts or different media platforms.

Journalists for print media conduct interviews and write articles to be used in newspapers, magazines, and online publications. Because most newspapers and magazines have print and online versions, reporters typically produce content for both versions. Doing so, often requires staying up to date with new developments of a story so that the online editions can be updated with the most current information.

Outlets are increasingly relying on multimedia journalists to publish content on a variety of platforms, such as a video content on the website of a daily newspaper. Multimedia journalists typically record, report, write, and edit their own stories. They also gather the audio, video, or graphics that accompany their stories.

Reporters and correspondents may need to maintain a presence on social media networking sites. Many use social media to cover live events, provide additional information for readers and viewers, promote their stations and newscasts, and engage with their audiences.

Some journalists, particularly those in large cities or large news organizations, cover a particular topic, such as sports, medicine, or politics. Journalists who work in small cities, towns, or organizations may need to cover a wider range of subjects.

Some reporters live in other countries and cover international news.

Some reporters—particularly those who work for print news—are self-employed and take freelance assignments from news organizations. Freelance assignments are given to writers on an as-needed basis. Because freelance reporters are paid for the individual story, they work with many organizations and often spend some of their time marketing their stories and looking for their next assignment.

Reporters also may collaborate with editorsphotographersvideographers, and other journalists when working on a story.

Some people with a background as a reporter or correspondent work as postsecondary teachers and teach journalism or communications at colleges and universities.

Broadcast news analysts are another type of media occupation. Broadcast news analysts, also called anchors, lead news shows on television or radio. Others are news commentators, who analyze and interpret news stories, and offer opinions. Some news commentators come from fields outside of journalism and have expertise in a particular subject—for example, politics, business, or medicine—and are hired on a contract basis to provide their opinion on the subjects being discussed.

Work Environment

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters and correspondents spend a lot of time in the field conducting interviews and investigating stories.

Broadcast news analysts held about 5,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of broadcast news analysts were as follows:

Radio and television broadcasting 78%
Self-employed workers 11
Educational services; state, local, and private 3

Reporters and correspondents held about 44,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of reporters and correspondents were as follows:

Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 50%
Radio and television broadcasting 25
Self-employed workers 11
Other information services 10

Reporters and correspondents spend a lot of time in the field, conducting interviews and investigating stories. Many reporters spend little to no time in an office. They travel to be on location for events or to meet contacts and file stories remotely.

Injuries and Illnesses

Working on stories about natural disasters or wars can put reporters in dangerous situations. In addition, reporters may often face pressure or stress when trying to meet a deadline or cover breaking news.

Work Schedules

Most reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts work full time. Reporters may need to work additional hours or change their work schedules in order to follow breaking news. Because news can happen at any time of the day, journalists may need to work nights and weekends. Broadcast news analysts may also work nights and weekends to lead news programs or provide commentary.

How to Become a Reporter, Correspondent, or Broadcast News Analyst

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Journalists need to be persistent in their pursuit of the story as getting the facts of the story can be difficult, especially when those involved refuse to comment.

Employers generally prefer to hire reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications along with an internship or work experience from a college radio or television station or a newspaper.

Education

Most employers prefer workers who have a bachelor’s degree in journalism or communications. However, some employers may hire applicants who have a degree in a related subject, such as English or political science, and relevant work experience.

Bachelor’s degree programs in journalism and communications include classes in journalistic ethics and techniques for researching stories and conducting interviews. Some programs may require students to take liberal arts classes, such as English, history, economics, and political science, so that students are prepared to cover stories on a wide range of subjects. Students may further specialize in the type of journalism they wish to pursue, such as print, broadcast, or multimedia.

Some journalism students may benefit from classes in multimedia design, coding, and programming. Because content is increasingly being delivered on television, websites, and mobile devices, reporters need to know how to develop stories with video, audio, data, and graphics.

Some schools offer graduate programs in journalism and communications. These programs can prepare students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field to become journalists.

Other Experience

Employers generally require workers to have experience gained through internships or by working on school newspapers, college radio stations, or college TV stations. While attending college, many students seek multiple internships with different news organizations. These internships allow students the opportunities to work on stories and put together a portfolio of their best writing samples or on-air appearances.

News commentators who come from a field outside of journalism typically have expertise in areas on which they comment.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Broadcast news analysts sometimes need work experience as reporters and correspondents. For example, it might take a field reporter at a local news station a few years to become that station’s anchor.

Advancement

After gaining more work experience, reporters and correspondents can advance by moving from news organizations in small cities or towns to news organizations in large cities. Larger markets offer job opportunities with higher pay and more responsibility and challenges. Reporters and correspondents also may become editors, or news directors.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts must be able to report the news. Strong writing skills are important for journalists in all kinds of media.

Computer skills. Journalists should be able to use editing equipment and other broadcast-related devices. They should also be able to use multimedia and coding software in order to publish stories on websites and mobile devices.

Interpersonal skills. To develop contacts and conduct interviews, reporters need to build good relationships with many people. They also need to work well with other journalists, editors, and news directors.

Persistence. Sometimes, getting the facts of a story is difficult, particularly when those involved refuse to be interviewed or provide comment. Journalists need to be persistent in their pursuit of the story.

Stamina. The work of journalists is often fast paced and exhausting. Reporters must be able to keep up with the additional hours of work.

Pay

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Median annual wages, May 2016

Broadcast news analysts

$56,680

Media and communication workers

$54,780

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

$38,870

Reporters and correspondents

$37,820

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for broadcast news analysts was $56,680 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $163,490.

The median annual wage for reporters and correspondents was $37,820 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,610.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for broadcast news analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private $57,200
Radio and television broadcasting 56,460

In May 2016, the median annual wages for reporters and correspondents in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Other information services $60,680
Radio and television broadcasting 43,500
Newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers 33,930

Most reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts work full time. Reporters may need to work additional hours or change their work schedules in order to follow breaking news. Because news can happen at any time of the day, journalists may need to work nights and weekends. Broadcast news analysts may also work nights and weekends to lead news programs or provide commentary.

Job Outlook

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication workers

6%

Broadcast news analysts

-1%

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

-10%

Reporters and correspondents

-11%

Overall employment of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is projected to decline 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. Employment of reporters and correspondents is projected to decline 11 percent, while employment of broadcast news analysts is projected to show little or no change from 2016 to 2026. Declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers, and television will negatively affect the employment growth for these occupations.

Readership and circulation of newspapers are expected to continue to decline over the next decade. In addition, television and radio stations are increasingly publishing content online and on mobile devices. As a result, news organizations may have more difficulty selling traditional forms of advertising, which is often their primary source of revenue. Some organizations will likely continue to use new forms of advertising or offer paid subscriptions, but these innovations may not make up for lost print ad revenues.

Declining revenue will force news organizations to downsize and employ fewer journalists. Increasing demand for online news may offset some of the downsizing. However, because online and mobile ad revenue is typically less than print revenue, the growth in digital advertising may not offset the decline in print advertising, circulation, and readership.

News organizations also continue to consolidate and increasingly are sharing resources, staff, and content with other media outlets. For example, reporters are able to gather and report on news for a media outlet that can be published in multiple newspapers owned by the same parent company. As consolidations, mergers, and news sharing continue, the demand for journalists may decrease. However, in some instances, consolidations may help limit the loss of jobs. Mergers may allow financially troubled newspapers, radio stations, and television stations to keep staff because of increased funding and resources from the larger organization.

Job Prospects

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts are expected to face strong competition for jobs. Those with experience in the field—experience often gained through internships or by working for school newspapers, television stations, or radio stations—should have the best job prospects.

Multimedia journalism experience, including recording and editing video or audio pieces, should also improve job prospects. Because stations and media outlets are increasingly publishing content on multiple media platforms, particularly the web, employers may prefer applicants who have experience in website design and coding.

Employment projections data for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

News analysts, reporters and correspondents 27-3020 50,400 45,600 -10 -4,800 employment projections excel document xlsx

Broadcast news analysts

27-3021 5,700 5,600 -1 -100 employment projections excel document xlsx

Reporters and correspondents

27-3022 44,700 40,000 -11 -4,800 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Radio and television announcers

Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these or other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs. See How to Become One $30,830
Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists

Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists

Atmospheric scientists study the weather and climate, and examine how those conditions affect human activity and the earth in general. Bachelor’s degree $92,460
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies. See How to Become One $42,550
Editors

Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication. Bachelor’s degree $57,210
Film and video editors and camera operators

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience. Bachelor’s degree $59,040
Photographers

Photographers

Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images that tell a story or record an event. High school diploma or equivalent $34,070
Public relations managers and specialists

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization. Bachelor’s degree $107,320
public relations specialists image

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. Bachelor’s degree $58,020
Technical writers

Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels. Bachelor’s degree $69,850
Writers and authors

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs. Bachelor’s degree $61,240
Quick Facts:Writers and Authors

Writers and Authors

Summary

writers and authors image

Writers and authors develop written content.
Quick Facts: Writers and Authors
2016 Median Pay $61,240 per year
$29.44 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 131,200
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 11,000

What Writers and Authors Do

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs.

Work Environment

Writers and authors work in an office, at home, or anywhere they have access to a computer. About 2 in 3 writers and authors were self-employed in 2016.

How to Become a Writer or Author

A college degree in English, journalism, or communications is generally required for a full-time position as a writer or author. Experience can be gained through internships, but any form of writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial.

Pay

The median annual wage for writers and authors was $61,240 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of writers and authors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Strong competition is expected for full-time jobs because many people are attracted to this occupation.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for writers and authors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of writers and authors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about writers and authors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Writers and Authors Do

Writers and authors

Writers and authors perform research in order to give their stories authentic detail.

Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media, including advertisements; books; magazines; movie, play, and television scripts; and blogs.

Duties

Writers and authors typically do the following:

  • Choose subject matter that interests readers
  • Write fiction or nonfiction through scripts, novels, biographies, and more
  • Conduct research to obtain factual information and authentic detail
  • Write advertising copy for newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, and the Internet
  • Present drafts to editors and clients for feedback
  • Work with editors and clients to shape the material so it can be published

Writers must establish their credibility with editors and readers through clean prose, strong research, and the use of appropriate sources and citations. Writers and authors select the material they want to use and then convey the information to readers. With help from editors, they may revise or rewrite sections, searching for the clearest language and the most appropriate phrasing.

Some writers and authors are self-employed or freelance writers and authors. They sell their written content to book and magazine publishers; news organizations; advertising agencies; and movie, theater, and television producers. They may be hired to complete specific short-term or recurring assignments, such as writing a newspaper column, contributing to a series of articles in a magazine, or producing an organization’s newsletter.

An increasing number of writers are producing material that is published only on the Internet, such as for digital news organizations or blogs.

The following are examples of types of writers and authors:

Copywriters prepare advertisements to promote the sale of a good or service. They often work with a client to produce written content, such as advertising themes, jingles, and slogans.

Content writers write about any topic of interest, unlike writers who usually specialize in a given field.

Biographers write a thorough account of a person’s life. They gather information from interviews and research about the person to accurately portray important events in that person’s life.

Bloggers write posts to a blog that may pertain to any topic or a specific field, such as fashion, news, or sports.

Novelists write books of fiction, creating characters and plots that may be imaginary or based on real events.

Playwrights write scripts for theatrical productions. They come up with a concept, write lines for actors to say, produce stage direction for actors to follow, and suggest ideas for theatrical set design.

Screenwriters create scripts for movies and television. They may produce original stories, characters, and dialogue, or turn a book into a movie or television script.

Speechwriters write speeches for business leaders, politicians, and others who must speak in front of an audience. A speech is heard, not read, which means speechwriters must think about audience reaction and rhetorical effect.

Work Environment

writers and authors image

Writers and authors may work in an office or wherever they have access to a computer.

Writers and authors held about 131,200 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of writers and authors were as follows:

Self-employed workers 64%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 10
Information 10
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 4
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 3

Writers and authors work in an office, at home, or wherever they have access to a computer.

Jobs are somewhat concentrated in major media and entertainment markets—Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC—but improved communications and Internet capabilities allow writers and authors to work from almost anywhere. Some writers and authors prefer to work outside these cities and travel regularly to meet with publishers and clients and to perform research or conduct in-person interviews.

Work Schedules

About 1 in 4 writers and authors worked part time in 2016. Some writers keep regular office hours, either to stay in contact with sources and editors or to set up a writing routine, but many writers set their own hours. Others may need to work evenings and weekends to produce something acceptable for an editor or client. Self-employed or freelance writers and authors may face the pressures of juggling multiple projects or continually looking for new work.

How to Become a Writer or Author

writers and authors image

Writers and authors may have to manage multiple assignments simultaneously.

A college degree in English, journalism, or communications is generally required for a salaried position as a writer or author. Experience can be gained through internships, but any form of writing that improves skill, such as blogging, is beneficial.

Education

A bachelor’s degree is typically needed for a full-time job as a writer. Because writing skills are essential in this occupation, many employers prefer candidates with a degree in English, journalism, or communications.

Other Work Experience

Writers can obtain job experience by working for high school and college newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. College theater programs offer playwrights an opportunity to have their work performed. Many magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

Employers also increasingly prefer new applicants to have the ability to code and program webpages or manipulate data to create a visual story using tables, charts, infographics, and maps. Online publications require knowledge of computer software and editing tools that are used to combine text with graphics, audio, video, and animation.

In addition, anyone with Internet access can start a blog and gain writing experience. Some of this writing may lead to paid assignments regardless of education, because the quality of writing, the unique perspective, and the size of the potential audience are the greatest determinants of success for a piece of writing.

Writers or authors can come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences as long as they demonstrate strong writing skills.

Training

Writers and authors typically need to gain writing experience through on-the-job training. They may practice writing and work with more experienced writers and editors before their work is ready for publication.

Writers who want to write about a particular topic may need formal training or experience related to that topic.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some associations offer certifications for writers and authors. Certification can demonstrate competence and professionalism, making candidates more attractive to employers. For example, the American Grant Writers’ Association(AGWA) offers the Certified Grant Writer® credential.

Certification can also increase opportunities for advancement.

Advancement

Beginning writers and authors can get a start and put their name on work immediately by writing for small businesses, local newspapers, advertising agencies, and nonprofit organizations. However, opportunities for advancement within these organizations may be limited because they usually do not have enough regular work.

Writers and authors can advance their careers further by building a reputation, taking on more complex writing assignments, and getting published in more prestigious markets and publications. Having published work that has been well received and maintaining a track record of meeting deadlines are important for advancement.

Many editors begin work as writers. Those who are particularly skilled at identifying stories, correcting writing style, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs.

Important Qualities

Adaptability. Writers and authors need to be able to adapt to newer software platforms and programs, including various content management systems (CMS).

Creativity. Writers and authors must be able to develop new and interesting plots, characters, or ideas so they can come up with new stories.

Critical-thinking skills. Writers and authors must have dual expertise in thinking through or understanding new concepts, and conveying it through writing.

Determination. Writers and authors sometimes work on projects that take years to complete. They must demonstrate perseverance and personal drive to meet deadlines.

Persuasion. Writers, especially those in advertising, must be able to persuade others to feel a certain way about a good or service.

Social perceptiveness. Writers and authors must understand how readers react to certain ideas in order to connect with their audience.

Writing skills. Writers and authors must be able to write clearly and effectively in order to convey feeling and emotion and communicate with readers.

Pay

Writers and Authors

Median annual wages, May 2016

Writers and authors

$61,240

Media and communication workers

$54,780

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for writers and authors was $61,240 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,380, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $118,640.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for writers and authors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $64,360
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 63,850
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations 61,960
Information 57,640

About 1 in 4 writers and authors worked part time in 2016. Some writers keep regular office hours, either to stay in contact with sources and editors or to set up a writing routine, but many writers set their own hours. Others may need to work evenings and weekends to produce something acceptable for an editor or client. Self-employed or freelance writers and authors may face the pressures of juggling multiple projects or continually looking for new work.

Job Outlook

Writers and Authors

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Writers and authors

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Media and communication workers

6%

Employment of writers and authors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication, spurring demand for writers and authors with Web and multimedia experience.

Some experienced writers should find work in the public relations departments of corporations and nonprofit organizations. Self-employed or freelance writers and authors may find work with newspaper, magazine, or journal publishers, and some will write books.

Job Prospects

Strong competition is expected for most job openings, given that many people are attracted to this occupation. Competition for jobs with established newspapers and magazines will be particularly strong because employment in the publishing industry is projected to decline.

Writers and authors who have adapted to online and social media, and who are comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools, should have an advantage in finding work. The declining costs of self-publishing and the growing popularity of electronic books will allow many freelance writers to have their work published.

Employment projections data for writers and authors, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Writers and authors 27-3043 131,200 142,200 8 11,000 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of writers and authors.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Radio and television announcers

Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these or other important topics. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs. See How to Become One $30,830
Editors

Editors

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication. Bachelor’s degree $57,210
Public relations managers and specialists

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization. Bachelor’s degree $107,320
public relations specialists image

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They craft media releases and develop social media programs to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. Bachelor’s degree $58,020
Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio. Bachelor’s degree $38,870
Technical writers

Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They also develop, gather, and disseminate technical information through an organization’s communications channels. Bachelor’s degree $69,850

September 2017 – Engineering Careers

Quick Facts: Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace Engineers

Summary

aerospace engineers image

Aerospace engineers design aircraft and propulsion systems, and study the aerodynamic performance of aircraft.
Quick Facts: Aerospace Engineers
2016 Median Pay $109,650 per year
$52.72 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 72,500
Job Outlook, 2014-24 -2% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2014-24 -1,600

What Aerospace Engineers Do

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Work Environment

Aerospace engineers are employed in industries whose workers design or build aircraft, missiles, systems for national defense, or spacecraft. Aerospace engineers are employed primarily in manufacturing, analysis and design, research and development, and the federal government.

How to Become an Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another field of engineering or science related to aerospace systems. Aerospace engineers that work on projects that are related to national defense may need a security clearance.

Pay

The median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $109,650 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of aerospace engineers is projected to decline 2 percent from 2014 to 2024. Aircraft are being redesigned to cut down on noise pollution and to raise fuel efficiency, which will help sustain demand for research and development.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for aerospace engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of aerospace engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about aerospace engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Aerospace Engineers Do

Aerospace engineers

Aerospace engineers evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles.

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Duties

Aerospace engineers typically do the following:

  • Direct and coordinate the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products
  • Assess proposals for projects to determine if they are technically and financially feasible
  • Determine if proposed projects will result in safe aircraft and parts
  • Evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles, customer requirements, and environmental challenges
  • Develop acceptance criteria for design methods, quality standards, sustainment after delivery, and completion dates
  • Ensure that projects meet quality standards
  • Inspect malfunctioning or damaged products to identify sources of problems and possible solutions

Aerospace engineers may develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft. They often specialize in areas such as aerodynamic fluid flow; structural design; guidance, navigation, and control; instrumentation and communication; robotics; and propulsion and combustion.

Aerospace engineers can specialize in designing different types of aerospace products, such as commercial and military airplanes and helicopters; remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft; spacecraft, including launch vehicles and satellites; and military missiles and rockets.

Aerospace engineers often become experts in one or more related fields: aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, and guidance and control systems.

Aerospace engineers typically specialize in one of two types of engineering: aeronautical or astronautical.

Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. They are involved primarily in designing aircraft and propulsion systems and in studying the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials. They work with the theory, technology, and practice of flight within the earth’s atmosphere.

Astronautical engineers work with the science and technology of spacecraft and how they perform inside and outside the earth’s atmosphere.

Aeronautical and astronautical engineers face different environmental and operational issues in designing aircraft and spacecraft. However, the two fields overlap a great deal because they both depend on the basic principles of physics.

Work Environment

Aerospace engineers

Aerospace engineers work in industries that build aircraft and often help oversee construction.

Aerospace engineers held about 72,500 jobs in 2014. The largest employers of aerospace engineers were as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 38%
Engineering services 14
Federal government, excluding postal service 13
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 12
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 5

They are employed in industries where workers design or build aircraft, missiles, systems for national defense, or spacecraft. Aerospace engineers work primarily for firms that engage in manufacturing, analysis and design, research and development, and for the federal government.

Aerospace engineers now spend more of their time in an office environment than they have in the past, because modern aircraft design requires the use of sophisticated computer equipment and software design tools, modeling, and simulations for tests, evaluation, and training.

Aerospace engineers work with other professionals involved in designing and building aircraft, spacecraft, and their components. Therefore, they must be able to communicate well, divide work into manageable tasks, and work with others toward a common goal.

Work Schedules

Aerospace engineers typically work full time. Engineers who direct projects must often work extra hours to monitor progress, to ensure that the design meets requirements, to determine how to measure aircraft performance, to see that production meets design standards, and to ensure that deadlines are met.

How to Become an Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers

Aerospace engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Aerospace engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another field of engineering or science related to aerospace systems. Aerospace engineers who work on projects that are related to national defense may need a security clearance. U.S. citizenship may be required for certain types and levels of clearances.

Education

Entry-level aerospace engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree. High school students interested in studying aerospace engineering should take courses in chemistry, physics, and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

Bachelor’s degree programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in subjects such as general engineering principles, propulsion, stability and control, structures, mechanics, and aerodynamics, which is the study of how air interacts with moving objects.

Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in partnership with regional businesses, which give students practical experience while they complete their education. Cooperative programs and internships enable students to gain valuable experience and to finance part of their education.

At some universities, a student can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree upon completion. A graduate degree will allow an engineer to work as an instructor at a university or to do research and development. Programs in aerospace engineering are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to identify design elements that may not meet requirements and then must formulate alternatives to improve the performance of those elements.

Business skills. Much of the work done by aerospace engineers involves meeting federal government standards. Meeting these standards often requires knowledge of standard business practices, as well as knowledge of commercial law.

Critical-thinking skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to translate a set of issues into requirements and to figure out why a particular design does not work. They must be able to ask the right question, then find an acceptable answer.

Math skills. Aerospace engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Aerospace engineers use their education and experience to upgrade designs and troubleshoot problems when meeting new demands for aircraft, such as increased fuel efficiency or improved safety.

Writing skills. Aerospace engineers must be able both to write papers that explain their designs clearly and to create documentation for future reference.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an aerospace engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires:

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Advancement

Eventually, aerospace engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may even become engineering managers or move into executive positions, such as program managers.

Pay

Aerospace Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Aerospace engineers

$109,650

Engineers

$91,010

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $109,650 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $69,150, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $160,290.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for aerospace engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $115,090
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 112,640
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 111,070
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 108,920
Engineering services 106,320

Aerospace engineers typically work full time. Engineers who direct projects must often work extra hours to monitor progress, to ensure that the design meets requirements, to determine how to measure aircraft performance, to see that production meets design standards, and to ensure that deadlines are met.

Job Outlook

Aerospace Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Engineers

4%

Aerospace engineers

-2%

Employment of aerospace engineers is projected to decline 2 percent from 2014 to 2024. Aircraft are being redesigned to cut down on noise pollution and to raise fuel efficiency, which will help sustain demand for research and development. However, growth will be tempered because many of these engineers are employed in manufacturing industries that are projected to grow slowly or even decline.

Most of the work of aerospace engineers involves national defense–related projects or the design of civilian aircraft. Research-and-development projects, such as those related to improving the safety, efficiency, and environmental soundness of aircraft, should sustain demand for workers in this occupation.

Aerospace engineers who work on engines or propulsion will continue to be needed as the emphasis in design and production shifts to rebuilding existing aircraft so that they are less noisy and more fuel efficient.

In addition, as governments refocus their space efforts, new companies are emerging to provide access to space beyond the access afforded by standard space agencies. The efforts of these companies will include low-orbit and beyond-earth-orbit capabilities for human and robotic space travel. Unmanned aerial vehicles will create some opportunities for aerospace engineers as authorities find domestic uses for them, such as finding missing persons lost in large tracts of forest or helping to put out forest fires.

Job Prospects

Aerospace engineers who know how to use collaborative engineering tools and processes and who are familiar with modeling, simulation, and robotics should have good opportunities. Employment opportunities also should be favorable for those trained in computational fluid dynamics software, which has enabled companies to test designs in a digital environment, thereby lowering testing costs. Finally, the aging of workers in this occupation should help to create openings in it over the next decade.

Employment projections data for aerospace engineers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Aerospace engineers 17-2011 72,500 70,800 -2 -1,600 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of aerospace engineers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used in developing, testing, and producing new aircraft and spacecraft. Increasingly, these workers are using computer-based modeling and simulation tools and processes in their work. Associate’s degree $68,020
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies. Bachelor’s degree $134,730
Computer hardware engineers

Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. These engineers discover new directions in computer hardware, which generate rapid advances in computer technology. Bachelor’s degree $115,080
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation. Associate’s degree $62,190
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems—from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs). Bachelor’s degree $96,270
Industrial engineers

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service. Bachelor’s degree $84,310
Materials engineers

Materials Engineers

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products, from computer chips and aircraft wings to golf clubs and biomedical devices. They study the properties and structures of metals, ceramics, plastics, composites, nanomaterials (extremely small substances), and other substances to create new materials that meet certain mechanical, electrical, and chemical requirements. Bachelor’s degree $93,310
Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines. Bachelor’s degree $84,190
Quick Facts: Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical Engineers

Summary

biomedical engineers image

Biomedical engineers design and create equipment and devices used in healthcare.
Quick Facts: Biomedical Engineers
2016 Median Pay $85,620 per year
$41.16 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 22,100
Job Outlook, 2014-24 23% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 5,100

What Biomedical Engineers Do

Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.

Work Environment

Biomedical engineers work in manufacturing, universities, hospitals, research facilities of companies and educational and medical institutions, and government regulatory agencies. They usually work full time.

How to Become a Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering from an accredited program in order to enter the occupation. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either choose biological science electives or get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.

Pay

The median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $85,620 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of biomedical engineers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growing technology and its application to medical equipment and devices, along with an aging population, will increase demand for the work of biomedical engineers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for biomedical engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of biomedical engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about biomedical engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Biomedical Engineers Do

Biomedical engineers

Biomedical engineers install, maintain, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment.

Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.

Duties

Biomedical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design equipment and devices, such as artificial internal organs, replacements for body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
  • Install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
  • Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
  • Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of equipment
  • Work with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists to research the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals
  • Prepare procedures, write technical reports, publish research papers, and make recommendations based on their research findings
  • Present research findings to scientists, nonscientist executives, clinicians, hospital management, engineers, other colleagues, and the public

Biomedical engineers design instruments, devices, and software used in healthcare; bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures; or conduct research needed to solve clinical problems.

They often serve a coordinating function, using their background in both engineering and medicine. For example, they may create products for which an indepth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. They frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.

Biomedical engineers design electrical circuits, software to run medical equipment, or computer simulations to test new drug therapies. In addition, they design and build artificial body parts, such as hip and knee joints. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.

The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on mathematics and statistics to build models to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart.

The following are examples of specialty areas within the field of biomedical engineering:

Bioinstrumentation uses electronics, computer science, and measurement principles to develop devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Biomaterials is the study of naturally occurring or laboratory-designed materials that are used in medical devices or as implantation materials.

Biomechanics involves the study of mechanics, such as thermodynamics, to solve biological or medical problems.

Clinical engineering applies medical technology to optimize healthcare delivery.

Rehabilitation engineering is the study of engineering and computer science to develop devices that assist individuals with physical and cognitive impairments.

Systems physiology uses engineering tools to understand how systems within living organisms, from bacteria to humans, function and respond to changes in their environment.

Some people with training in biomedical engineering become professors. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.

Work Environment

Biomedical engineers

Biomedical engineers work in laboratory and clinical settings.

Biomedical engineers held about 22,100 jobs in 2014. The largest employers of biomedical engineers were as follows:

Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing 23%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 16
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 12
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 8
Hospitals; state, local, and private 8

Biomedical engineers work in a variety of settings. Some work in hospitals, where therapy occurs, and others work in laboratories, doing research. Still others work in manufacturing settings, where they design biomedical engineering products. Yet other biomedical engineers work in commercial offices, where they make or support business decisions.

Biomedical engineers work in teams with scientists, healthcare workers, or other engineers. Where and how they work depends on the project. For example, a biomedical engineer who has developed a new device designed to help a person with a disability to walk again might have to spend hours in a hospital to determine whether the device works as planned. If the engineer finds a way to improve the device, he or she might have to return to the manufacturer to help alter the manufacturing process in order to improve the design.

Work Schedules

Biomedical engineers usually work full time on a normal schedule. However, as with employees in almost any engineering occupation, biomedical engineers occasionally may have to work additional hours to meet the needs of patients, managers, colleagues, and clients.

How to Become a Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers

Biomedical engineers frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.

Biomedical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering from an accredited program in order to enter the occupation. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either choose biological science electives or get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.

Education

Prospective biomedical engineering or bioengineering students should take high school science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They should also take math courses, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses in drafting or mechanical drawing and in computer programming are also useful.

Bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical engineering and bioengineering focus on engineering and biological sciences. Programs include laboratory-based courses, in addition to classroom-based courses, in subjects such as fluid and solid mechanics, computer programming, circuit design, and biomaterials. Other required courses may include biological sciences, such as physiology.

Accredited programs also include substantial training in engineering design. Many programs include co-ops or internships, often with hospitals and medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, to provide students with practical applications as part of their study. Biomedical engineering and bioengineering programs are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Biomedical engineers must be able to analyze the needs of patients and customers to design appropriate solutions.

Communication skills. Because biomedical engineers sometimes work with patients and frequently work on teams, they must be able to express themselves clearly. They must seek others’ ideas and incorporate those ideas into the problem-solving process.

Creativity. Biomedical engineers must be creative to come up with innovative and integrative advances in healthcare equipment and devices.

Math skills. Biomedical engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics, as well as statistics, for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Biomedical engineers typically deal with and solve problems in complex biological systems.

Advancement

Biomedical engineers typically receive greater responsibility through experience and more education. To lead a research team, a biomedical engineer generally needs a graduate degree. Some biomedical engineers attend medical or dental school to specialize in applications at the forefront of patient care, such as using electric impulses in new ways to get muscles moving again. Some earn law degrees and work as patent attorneys. Others pursue a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and move into managerial positions. For more information, see the profiles on lawyers and architectural and engineering managers.

Pay

Biomedical Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Engineers

$91,010

Biomedical engineers

$85,620

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $85,620 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,050, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $134,620.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for biomedical engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $94,800
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 90,180
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 88,810
Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing 86,860
Hospitals; state, local, and private 73,960

Biomedical engineers usually work full time on a normal schedule. However, as with employees in almost any engineering occupation, biomedical engineers occasionally may have to work additional hours to meet project deadlines.

Job Outlook

Biomedical Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Biomedical engineers

23%

Total, all occupations

7%

Engineers

4%

Employment of biomedical engineers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Biomedical engineers likely will see more demand because of growing technology and its application to medical equipment and devices. Smartphone technology and three-dimensional printing are examples of technology being applied to biomedical advances.

As the aging baby-boom generation lives longer and stays active, the demand for biomedical devices and procedures, such as hip and knee replacements is expected to increase. In addition, as the public has become more aware of medical advances, increasing numbers of people are seeking biomedical solutions to their health problems from their physicians.

Biomedical engineers work with scientists, other medical researchers, and manufacturers to address a wide range of injuries and physical disabilities. Their ability to work in different activities with workers from other fields is enlarging the range of applications for biomedical engineering products and services.

Job Prospects

Rapid advances in technology will continue to change what biomedical engineers do and continue to create new areas for them to work in. Thus, the expanding range of activities in which biomedical engineers are engaged should translate into very favorable job prospects. In addition, the aging of the population and retirement of a substantial percentage of biomedical engineers is likely to help create job openings between 2014 and 2024.

Employment projections data for biomedical engineers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Biomedical engineers 17-2031 22,100 27,200 23 5,100 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of biomedical engineers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies. Bachelor’s degree $134,730
Biochemists and biophysicists

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity, and disease. Doctoral or professional degree $82,180
Chemical engineers

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. They design processes and equipment for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test production methods and byproducts treatment, and direct facility operations. Bachelor’s degree $98,340
Electrical and electronics engineers

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems—from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPSs). Bachelor’s degree $96,270
Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines. Bachelor’s degree $84,190
Physicians and surgeons

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates. Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.
Sales engineers

Sales Engineers

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work. Bachelor’s degree $100,000
Quick Facts: Chemical Engineers

Chemical Engineers

Summary

chemical engineers image

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems involving the production of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products.
Quick Facts: Chemical Engineers
2016 Median Pay $98,340 per year
$47.28 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 34,300
Job Outlook, 2014-24 2% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 600

What Chemical Engineers Do

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. They design processes and equipment for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test production methods and byproducts treatment, and direct facility operations.

Work Environment

Chemical engineers work mostly in offices or laboratories. They may spend time at industrial plants, refineries, and other locations, where they monitor or direct operations or solve onsite problems. Nearly all chemical engineers work full time.

How to Become a Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Employers also value practical experience. Therefore, internships and cooperative engineering programs can be helpful.

Pay

The median annual wage for chemical engineers was $98,340 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Demand for chemical engineers’ services depends largely on demand for the products of various manufacturing industries.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for chemical engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of chemical engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about chemical engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Chemical Engineers Do

Chemical engineers

Chemical engineers develop and design chemical manufacturing processes.

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics to solve problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. They design processes and equipment for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test production methods and byproducts treatment, and direct facility operations.

Duties

Chemical engineers typically do the following:

  • Conduct research to develop new and improved manufacturing processes
  • Develop safety procedures for those working with dangerous chemicals
  • Develop processes for separating components of liquids and gases, or for generating electrical currents, by using controlled chemical processes
  • Design and plan the layout of equipment
  • Conduct tests and monitor the performance of processes throughout production
  • Troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes
  • Evaluate equipment and processes to ensure compliance with safety and environmental regulations
  • Estimate production costs for management

Some chemical engineers specialize in a particular process, such as oxidation (a reaction of oxygen with chemicals to make other chemicals) or polymerization (making plastics and resins). Others specialize in a particular field, such as nanomaterials (extremely small substances) or biological engineering. Still others specialize in developing specific products.

In addition, chemical engineers work in the production of energy, electronics, food, clothing, and paper. They must understand how the manufacturing process affects the environment and the safety of workers and consumers.

Chemical engineers also conduct research in the life sciences, biotechnology, and business services.

Work Environment

Chemical engineers

Chemical engineers generally work in offices or laboratory settings, although sometimes they must work in an industrial setting to oversee production.

Chemical engineers held about 34,300 jobs in 2014. The largest employers of chemical engineers were as follows:

Engineering services 16%
Basic chemical manufacturing 14
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 10
Petroleum and coal products manufacturing 7
Resin, synthetic rubber, and artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing 7

Chemical engineers work mostly in offices or laboratories. They may spend time at industrial plants, refineries, and other locations, where they monitor or direct operations or solve onsite problems. Chemical engineers must be able to work with those who design other systems and with the technicians and mechanics who put the designs into practice.

Some engineers travel extensively to plants or worksites, both domestically and abroad.

Injuries and Illnesses

Chemical engineers can be exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain chemicals and plant equipment, but such exposure can be avoided if proper procedures are followed.

Work Schedules

Nearly all chemical engineers work full time. Occasionally, they may have to work additional hours to meet production targets and design standards or to troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes.

How to Become a Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers

Becoming a chemical engineer requires a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, preferably supplemented with practical experience.

Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Employers also value practical experience, so internships and cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn college credit and experience, can be helpful.

Education

Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Programs usually take 4 years to complete and include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. High school students interested in studying chemical engineering will benefit from taking science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They also should take math courses, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

At some universities, students can opt to enroll in 5-year programs that lead to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree, which may include a degree up to the Ph.D. level, allows an engineer to work in research and development or as a postsecondary teacher.

Some colleges and universities offer internships and cooperative programs in partnership with industry. In these programs, students gain practical experience while completing their education.

ABET accredits engineering programs. ABET-accredited programs in chemical engineering include courses in chemistry, physics, and biology. These programs also include applying the sciences to the design, analysis, and control of chemical, physical, and biological processes.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Chemical engineers must be able to troubleshoot designs that do not work as planned. They must be able to ask the right questions and then find answers that work.

Creativity. Chemical engineers must be able to explore new ways of applying engineering principles. They work to invent new materials, advanced manufacturing techniques, and new applications in chemical and biomedical engineering.

Ingenuity. Chemical engineers learn the broad concepts of chemical engineering, but their work requires them to apply those concepts to specific production problems.

Interpersonal skills. Because their role is to put scientific principles into practice in manufacturing industries, chemical engineers must develop good working relationships with other workers involved in production processes.

Math skills. Chemical engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. In designing equipment and processes for manufacturing, these engineers must be able to anticipate and identify problems, including such issues as workers’ safety and problems related to manufacturing and environmental protection.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure for chemical engineers is not as common as it is for other engineering occupations, nor is it required for entry-level positions. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Advancement

Entry-level engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As junior engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Eventually, chemical engineers may advance to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may become architectural and engineering managers. However, preparing for management positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced chemical engineer.

An engineering background enables chemical engineers to discuss a product’s technical aspects and assist in product planning and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

Pay

Chemical Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Chemical engineers

$98,340

Engineers

$91,010

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for chemical engineers was $98,340 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,770, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $158,800.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for chemical engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Petroleum and coal products manufacturing $104,610
Engineering services 103,270
Basic chemical manufacturing 102,100
Resin, synthetic rubber, and artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing 99,550
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 98,210

A 2015 survey report by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers indicated that the median yearly salary of those with no supervisory responsibility was $106,300.

Nearly all chemical engineers work full time. Occasionally, they may have to work additional hours to meet production targets and design standards or to troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes.

Job Outlook

Chemical Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Engineers

4%

Chemical engineers

2%

Employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Demand for chemical engineers’ services depends largely on demand for the products of various manufacturing industries. The ability of these engineers to stay on the forefront of new emerging technologies will sustain employment growth.

Many chemical engineers work in industries that have output sought by many manufacturing firms. For instance, they work for firms that manufacture plastic resins, used to increase fuel efficiency in automobiles. Increased availability of domestically produced natural gas should increase manufacturing potential in the industries employing these engineers.

In addition, chemical engineering is migrating into new fields, such as nanotechnology, alternative energies, and biotechnology, thereby helping to sustain demand for engineering services in many manufacturing industries.

However, overall growth of employment will be tempered by a decline in employment in manufacturing sectors, including chemical manufacturing.

Job Prospects

The need to find alternative fuels to meet increasing energy demand while maintaining environmental sustainability will continue to require the expertise of chemical engineers in oil- and gas-related industries. In addition, the integration of chemical and biological sciences and rapid advances in innovation will create new areas in biotechnology and in medical and pharmaceutical fields for them to work in. Thus, those with a background in biology will have better chances to gain employment. Chemical engineers should have favorable job prospects as many workers in the occupation reach retirement age from 2014 to 2024.

Employment projections data for chemical engineers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Chemical engineers 17-2041 34,300 34,900 2 600 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of chemical engineers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies. Bachelor’s degree $134,730
Biomedical engineers

Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare. Bachelor’s degree $85,620
Chemical technicians

Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians use special instruments and techniques to help chemists and chemical engineers research, develop, produce, and test chemical products and processes. Associate’s degree $45,840
Chemists and materials scientists

Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and the ways in which the substances interact with one another. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods. Bachelor’s degree $75,420
Nuclear engineers

Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers research and develop the processes, instruments, and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. Many of these engineers find industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials—for example, in equipment used in medical diagnosis and treatment. Bachelor’s degree $102,220
Occupational health and safety specialists

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

Occupational health and safety specialists analyze many types of work environments and work procedures. Specialists inspect workplaces for adherence to regulations on safety, health, and the environment. They also design programs to prevent disease or injury to workers and damage to the environment. Bachelor’s degree $70,920
Quick Facts: Civil Engineers

Civil Engineers

Summary

civil engineers image

Civil engineers provide cost estimates for materials and labor to determine a project’s economic feasibility.
Quick Facts: Civil Engineers
2016 Median Pay $83,540 per year
$40.16 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 281,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 23,600

What Civil Engineers Do

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Work Environment

Civil engineers generally work in a variety of locations and conditions. Many spend time outdoors at construction sites so that they can monitor operations or solve problems onsite. Most work full time.

How to Become a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in one of its specialties, or in civil engineering technology. They typically need a graduate degree and licensure for promotion to senior positions. Although licensure requirements vary within the United States, civil engineers usually must be licensed in the locations where they provide services directly to the public.

Pay

The median annual wage for civil engineers was $83,540 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of civil engineers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As infrastructure continues to age, civil engineers will be needed to manage projects to rebuild bridges, repair roads, and upgrade levees and dams as well as airports and building structures of all types.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for civil engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of civil engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about civil engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Civil Engineers Do

Civil engineers

Civil engineers design major transportation projects.

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment. Many civil engineers work in design, construction, research, and education.

Duties

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze long range plans, survey reports, maps, and other data in order to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning the stages of, and risk analysis for, a project
  • Compile and submit permit applications to local, state, and federal agencies, verifying that projects comply with various regulations
  • Perform or oversee soil testing to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project’s economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Perform or oversee surveying operations in order to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or descriptions of property
  • Manage the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public and private infrastructure

Civil engineers inspect projects to insure regulatory compliance. In addition, they are tasked with ensuring that safe work practices are followed at construction sites.

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer, public works director, and city manager. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. Civil engineers work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians.

Civil engineers prepare permit documents for work on projects in renewable energy. They verify that the projects will comply with federal, state, and local requirements. With regard to solar energy, these engineers conduct structural analyses for large-scale photovoltaic projects. They also evaluate the ability of solar array support structures and buildings to tolerate stresses from wind, seismic activity, and other sources. For large-scale wind projects, civil engineers often prepare roadbeds to handle large trucks that haul in the turbines. In addition, they prepare the sites on the shore or offshore to make sure that the foundations for the turbines will safely keep them upright in expected environmental conditions.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Construction engineers manage construction projects, ensuring that they are scheduled and built in accordance with plans and specifications. These engineers typically are responsible for the design and safety of temporary structures used during construction.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). In addition, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as buildings, bridges, or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan, design, operate, and maintain everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ship ports, mass transit systems, and harbors.

The work of civil engineers is closely related to the work of environmental engineers.

Work Environment

Civil engineers

Though civil engineers must work in an office setting to produce their plans, they must also spend much time on site to oversee construction.

Civil engineers held about 281,400 jobs in 2014. The largest employers of civil engineers were as follows:

Engineering services 46%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 13
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 11
Nonresidential building construction 5
Federal government, excluding postal service 4

Civil engineers work in a variety of locations and conditions. When working on designs, civil engineers may spend most of their time indoors in offices. However, construction engineers may spend much of their time outdoors at construction sites monitoring operations or solving onsite problems. Some jobs may require frequent relocation to different areas and offices in job site trailers.

Civil engineers who function as project managers may work from cars or trucks as they move from site to site. Many civil engineers work for governments agencies in government office buildings or facilities. Occasionally, civil engineers travel abroad to work on large engineering projects in other countries.

Work Schedules

Civil engineers typically work full time, and about 1 in 4 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014. Engineers who direct projects may need to work extra hours to monitor progress on the projects, to ensure that designs meet requirements, and to guarantee that deadlines are met.

How to Become a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, one of its specialties, or civil engineering technology.

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree. They typically need a graduate degree and licensure for promotion to senior positions. Although licensure requirements vary within the United States, civil engineers usually must be licensed in the locations where they provide services directly to the public.

Education

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in one of its specialties, or in civil engineering technology. Programs in civil engineering and civil engineering technology include coursework in math, statistics, engineering mechanics and systems, and fluid dynamics, among other courses, depending on the specialty. Courses include a mix of traditional classroom learning, work in laboratories, and fieldwork.

A degree from a program accredited by the ABET is needed in order to earn the professional engineer (PE) license. In many states, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology also will suffice as an academic requirement for obtaining a license.

About 1 in 4 civil engineers has a master’s degree. Further education after the bachelor’s degree, along with the PE license and previous experience, is helpful in getting a job as a manager. For more information on engineering managers, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Civil engineers often balance multiple and frequently conflicting objectives, such as determining the feasibility of plans with regard to financial costs and safety concerns. Urban and regional planners often look to civil engineers for advice on these issues. Civil engineers must be able to make good decisions based on best practices, their own technical knowledge, and their own experience.

Leadership skills. Civil engineers take ultimate responsibility for the projects that they manage or research that they perform. Therefore, they must be able to lead planners, surveyors, construction managers, civil engineering technicians, civil engineering technologists, and others in implementing their project plan.

Math skills. Civil engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Organizational skills. Only licensed civil engineers can sign the design documents for infrastructure projects. This requirement makes it imperative that civil engineers be able to monitor and evaluate the work at the jobsite as a project progresses. That way, they can ensure compliance with the design documents. Civil engineers also often manage several projects at the same time, and thus must be able to balance time needs and to effectively allocate resources.

Problem-solving skills. Civil engineers work at the highest level of the planning, design, construction, and operation of multifaceted projects or research. The many variables involved require that they possess the ability to identify and evaluate complex problems. They must be able to then utilize their skill and training to develop cost-effective, safe, and efficient solutions.

Speaking skills. Civil engineers must present reports and plans to audiences of people with a wide range of backgrounds and technical knowledge. This requires the ability to speak clearly and to converse with people in various settings, and to translate engineering and scientific information into easy to understand concepts.

Writing skills. Civil engineers must be able to communicate with others, such as architects, landscape architects, and urban and regional planners. They also must be able to explain projects to elected officials and citizens. This means that civil engineers must be able to write reports that are clear, concise, and understandable to those with little or no technical or scientific background.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a civil engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, approve design plans, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years working under a licensed engineer
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.

Advancement

Civil engineers with ample experience may move into senior positions, such as project managers or functional managers of design, construction, operation, or maintenance. However, they would first need to obtain the Professional Engineering (PE) license, because only licensed engineers can assume responsibilities for public projects.

After gaining licensure, a professional engineer may seek credentialing that attests to his or her expertise in a civil engineering specialty. Such a credential may be of help for advancement to senior technical or even managerial positions.

Pay

Civil Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Engineers

$91,010

Civil engineers

$83,540

Total, all occupations

$37,040

The median annual wage for civil engineers was $83,540 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $53,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $132,880.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for civil engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $92,320
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 88,380
Engineering services 82,710
State government, excluding education and hospitals 80,200
Nonresidential building construction 77,170

Civil engineers typically work full time, and about 1 in 4 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014. Engineers who direct projects may need to work extra hours in order to monitor progress on projects, to ensure that designs meet requirements, and to guarantee that deadlines are met.

Job Outlook

Civil Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Civil engineers

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Engineers

4%

Employment of civil engineers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As infrastructure continues to age, civil engineers will be needed to manage projects to rebuild bridges, repair roads, and upgrade levees and dams as well as airports and buildings.

A growing population leading to increasing urbanization means that new water systems will be required while, at the same time, aging, existing water systems must be maintained to reduce or eliminate leaks. In addition, more waste treatment plants will be needed to help clean the nation’s waterways. Civil engineers will continue to play a key part in all of this work.

The work of civil engineers will be needed for renewable-energy projects. Often, getting permits for many of these projects takes years, and civil engineers play a key part in the process. Thus, as these new projects gain approval, civil engineers will be further involved in overseeing the construction of structures such as wind farms and solar arrays.

Although states continue to face financial challenges and may have difficulty funding all of their projects that need attention, some of the projects that have been delayed will ultimately have to be completed in order to build and maintain critical infrastructure, and to protect the public and the environment.

Job Prospects

Applicants who gain experience by participating in a co-op program while in college will have the best opportunities. In addition, new standards known collectively as the Body of Knowledge are growing in importance within civil engineering, and this development is likely to result in a heightened need for a graduate education. Therefore those who enter the occupation with a graduate degree will likely have better prospects.

Employment projections data for civil engineers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Civil engineers 17-2051 281,400 305,000 8 23,600 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of civil engineers.

OCCUPATION JOB DUTIES ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
Architects

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures. Bachelor’s degree $76,930
Civil engineering technicians

Civil Engineering Technicians

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers to plan, design, and build highways, bridges, utilities, and other infrastructure projects. They also help to plan, design, and build commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects. Associate’s degree $49,980
Construction managers

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. Bachelor’s degree $89,300
Environmental engineers

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in efforts to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control. Bachelor’s degree $84,890
Landscape architects

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and the outdoor spaces of campuses, recreational facilities, private homes, and other open areas. Bachelor’s degree $63,480
Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines. Bachelor’s degree $84,190
Surveyors

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects. Bachelor’s degree $59,390
Urban and regional planners

Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas. Master’s degree $70,020
Quick Facts: Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer Hardware Engineers

Summary

computer hardware engineers image

Computer hardware engineers solve problems that arise in computer hardware.
Quick Facts: Computer Hardware Engineers
2016 Median Pay $115,080 per year
$55.33 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 77,700
Job Outlook, 2014-24 3% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 2,400

What Computer Hardware Engineers Do

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. These engineers discover new directions in computer hardware, which generate rapid advances in computer technology.

Work Environment

Computer hardware engineers usually work in research laboratories that build and test various types of computer models. Most work in high-tech manufacturing firms.

How to Become a Computer Hardware Engineer

Most computer ha