Technical project manager
Also known as: Project manager
What does a technical project manager do?
Technical project managers are in charge of delivering technical projects for broadcasters, whether that’s building a recording studio, an OB truck (the van that broadcasts live from a location) or even a whole new broadcast centre. They are responsible for getting the project finished on time and to a specific cost. This means they must plan carefully how to get different teams of engineers to work together.
Technical project managers work with their own small team of trainee technical project managers, technicians and wirepersons. Their projects may be part of a larger installation, such as an entirely new broadcast centre for a big production company like Netflix or an edit suite for a post-production house or a visual effects company. Among many other jobs, the engineers working on the project lay down cables, install equipment and test that everything works.
Technical project managers understand what all the other engineering teams do and how to plan out a project from beginning to end. This means they must know how long it takes a team to build something and how much different projects might cost.
Even though planning is important, they must also be flexible so they can adjust to unexpected changes, such as delays in building work or not being able to get hold of certain materials or equipment. Technical project managers are expected to manage these types of issues as they come up and to report them to the senior technical project manager on a regular basis.
As managers, they are responsible for briefing the teams about safety rules. They also make sure that all the necessary equipment is delivered to the site on time and the teams have enough power, light and space so they can work well.
Watch and read
- First day as a project manager (5 things you need to do)
- Working in broadcast media technology panel hosted by RISE – Women in Broadcast
- Day in the life: Mark Barnes, project manager, dB Broadcast
- What is a technical project manager? (And why you should think about becoming one)
What is a technical project manager good at?
- Estimating costs: giving realistic estimates of how much time a project takes and what it may cost
- Planning: working out the plan for when projects might be finished
- Cooperation: working closely with different engineering departments.
Who does a technical project manager work with?
They also Since they work with a lot of people and teams during projects, they need to be patient and good at communicating.
How do I become a technical project manager?
Technical project managers have a lot of experience with project management, either from broadcasting or other similar fields. They don’t have to start with a technical qualification and many work in project management in other areas before moving into technology. They often start as a trainee technical project manager or work as a trainee broadcast engineer until they’ve gained enough experience to lead a project.
At school or college
If you’re interested in a career as a technical project manager, A-levels in maths, computer science and physics would be good to get under your belt. If you wanted to try more general project management first and then move into technology later, you could study subjects from the arts and humanities, such as English, history or music. Languages are also handy if you need to travel or want to work with foreign broadcasters – studying A-level German could be your ticket to working at a skiing tournament in Munich!
The following Level 3 vocational qualifications are also relevant to this role:
- BTEC in Engineering with Engineering Maths
- Cambridge Technical Extended Certificate in Engineering
- BTEC National Foundation Diploma in Engineering
- C&G Technical Certificate in Engineering
- EAL Technical Diploma/Extended Diploma in Engineering Technologies
- BTEC Diploma/Extended Diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- City & Guilds Advanced Technical Diploma in Electrical Installation
- EAL Diploma/Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation
Selected schools and colleges have also started offering T-levels – a qualification equivalent to three A-levels that is designed to help you get into the industry of your choice. Study is 80% classroom- and 20% work placement-based.
The following T-levels would help to kick-start your career in broadcast engineering:
- Digital Production, Design and Development
- Digital Support Services
- Digital Business Services
- Design and Development for Engineering and Manufacturing
- Maintenance, Installation and Repair for Engineering and Manufacturing
- Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control
Apprenticeships are jobs with training. Search for apprenticeships in broadcast engineering with broadcasters like BBC and Sky. Go to What’s an apprenticeship? to find out more and Where can I find an apprenticeship? to find apprenticeships in your region.
Alternatively, you can approach companies directly. Take a look at our list of apprenticeships to find the schemes of the main broadcasters. The BBC has a three-year apprenticeship in broadcast engineering that offers experience in all the areas a technical manager must master. You might want to start your career with a digital and technology solutions professional apprenticeship or with a software engineering apprenticeship.
Get involved with events in your local community, whether that’s running the sound for your school talent show, managing the special effects for an amateur dramatics society or helping out at a volunteer-run radio station.
Contact theatre productions or local music venues that can get you behind the scenes of a production environment. Anything that gives you experience in dealing with equipment in a live environment will be helpful. Voluntary experience is great for your CV, because it shows you’re enthusiastic, have technical ability and experience and you work well as part of a team.
Get a degree
A degree in a maths or science subject would stand you in good stead for entering the world of broadcast engineering. You could also look at electronic engineering, software design or computing. Go to ScreenSkills Select to find university and college courses accredited by ScreenSkills.
Look outside the industry
If you can’t or don’t want to get into broadcast engineering straightaway, industries that require similar skills include telecoms, live events and radio. These would enable you to strengthen your technical abilities and get experience with technical equipment.
Being a technical project manager is also a managerial role, so try to find roles that provide experience with technical equipment as well as increasing responsibility within a team. For roles that have both technical and managerial aspects, look into smaller film and music video productions.
Get work experience
Write to local production companies and ask if they offer technical assistant roles. Keep an eye out for work experience opportunities at the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and the PACT Indie Diversity Training Scheme.
Alternatively, try approaching a rental equipment company that supplies productions with the gear they need. This will enable you to get your hands on equipment, learn more about it and get to know people who work in TV.
Take a short course
If you are over 18, make a ScreenSkills account and check out ScreenSkills’ Training and opportunities page and click on Training to see what courses are available, whether they are in person or online. The training doesn’t have to be linked directly to broadcast engineering; for example, a short course on developing resilience would help you understand how to thrive in challenging circumstances.
Get to know people in the film and TV industry by attending events such as ScreenSkills’ Open Doors. Go to Training and opportunities and use the events filter to find out what’s on. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest in and knowledge of the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to Network well to learn how to do this.
Create a LinkedIn profile. See if there are Facebook pages or other social media groups for people making film and TV in your area. Create a ScreenSkills profile. There are a lot of crewing agencies that will charge you to be on their books. Sign up to the free ones initially. Wales Screen, Northern Ireland Screen and Filming in England offer free crew databases and opportunities to network in person. Find a film office near you and get connected. If you do sign up to paid sites, make sure they specialise in the areas in which you’re interested.
Search for jobs
Search for jobs on the broadcasters’ websites as well as on LinkedIn and other job-hunting websites. Make use of the ScreenSkills jobs board. You can also send a short speculative letter with your CV to technical managers or vision supervisors.
You might also be interested in..
- Why the Industry needs more Broadcast Engineers | NFTS
- BritishFilm Commission list of UK studios
- Engineering Council
- Rise: Women in Broadcast
- The Institution of Engineering and Technology
- The International Trade Association for the Broadcast & Media Industry
- Society of Media Professionals, Technologists and Engineers
- International Broadcasting Convention
- The Media Production & Technology Show
- E&T (Engineering & Technology) magazine
- NEP UK and Ireland
- Broadcast – Tech Talks
- Broadcast Buddy TV YouTube channel
- BBC Research and Development
- BBC Academy
- ITV Entry Careers
- Sky early careers
- 4Skills (Channel 4)
- Bectu (the media and entertainment union)
- Bectu Ratecards