What does a project director do?
Project directors lead projects, such as building a news studio for the BBC and broadcasting a huge sports event like the Olympics. They are the ones who make the most important decisions, sort out issues and manage budgets on a major broadcast project. Because it’s usually the most senior technical role in a broadcast or production company, project managers lead a small team, made up of senior technical project managers, technical project managers and trainees.
This team maps out the plans and budgets for a production’s engineering projects. Each engineering team will have a budget, which could run into millions of pounds. The teams need to report back to the project directors on how their project is doing. If they hit problems, the project director may help to come up with a solution.
Project directors are always up to date with the different teams’ projects, ready with a plan of action for all situations. They need to report back to their clients on a monthly basis to explain the progress made and how they will meet targets. They also usually provide monthly reports to the company board members (the managers right at the top), detailing the plan and how it will help the production meet its targets. The report highlights any issues, keeps a track of spending and makes a note of achievements so far.
Project directors need to have a basic understanding of contract law (the law relating to business agreements) when dealing with suppliers and the people hired to work on the project, like builders and electricians. They also need a thorough knowledge of safety regulations.
Watch and read
- Working in broadcast media technology panel hosted by RISE – Women in Broadcast
- Ravensbourne students broadcasting The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Macbeth
- How the BBC’s Springwatch was produced in the age of the coronavirus
What are project directors good at?
- Overview: knowing the process of every department working on a project and finding the best solution to problems
- Planning: having perspective and enough experience to estimate how the project is progressing and when it will be finished
- Responsibility: having excellent technical knowledge and skills in managing people so that they work together well; knowing how to influence and persuade rather than to order people around
- Finances: managing budgets and working out how to finish a project on time and within budget.
Who does a project director work with?
The senior technical project manager, design engineers and technical project managers in the installation team.
How do I become a project director?
Project directors have a lot of experience in managing both projects and people, so they will have worked as technical project managers or design engineers for a number of years before stepping up to this role.
If you want to become a project director, you will need experience of working in a large project department or for a major installation company. Most importantly, you will need to find a job that entails managing a team of other engineers and regularly explaining technology to senior programme makers with no engineering background.
At school or college
If you’re interested in a career in broadcast engineering, A-levels in maths, physics and computer science would be good to get under your belt. You could combine these with subjects from the arts and humanities, such as English, history or music, which may come in useful for the content of the programmes you work with. Languages are also handy if you need to travel or want to work with foreign broadcasters – studying A-level Spanish might be your ticket to working at the 2026 World Cup in Mexico!
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 broadcast and media systems degree apprenticeship that offers a mix of practical experience and university study in all areas of media systems engineering. You may also be interested in the level 3 apprenticeship for broadcast and media systems technical operator
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 project director is also a managerial role, so try to find jobs 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