Like No Business We Know ... from the Music Industry to the Movies: Tech Careers in the World of Entertainment

By Cutshall, Sandy | Techniques, April 2003 | Go to article overview

Like No Business We Know ... from the Music Industry to the Movies: Tech Careers in the World of Entertainment


Cutshall, Sandy, Techniques


Americans love music, movies, television, the Internet and the visual and performing arts. We are both the world's largest producer and consumer of entertainment products--and we seem captivated by the apparently limitless potential for technological innovations in this industry.

Whether we are being amazed by the latest 3D animation or movie special effects, enjoying the highest quality digital music recording or experiencing the newest electronic game--almost everyone at some point each day seeks out a form of entertainment and media arts.

Technology is truly transforming the entertainment world, and many gratifying careers await career and technical education (CTE) students in this industry. Innovative programs and schools across the country are readying the next generation of tech professionals to take us all to the next level in entertainment technology.

A Growth Industry

Despite the continuing economic slump affecting most industries in the past few years, global entertainment and media industry spending continued to grow and, in fact, exceeded the $1 trillion mark in 2001. At $438 billion, the United States is the largest market in terms of overall entertainment and media spending and is projected to expand at a 5.5 percent compound annual growth rate through 2006.

The electronic age continues to transform entertainment and media of all kinds, including publishing, broadcasting and film. Multimedia, the Internet and other new media outlets for entertainment and information are being refined at a rapid rate.

According to the International Communications Industries Association (ICIA), the demand for audiovisual (AV) technology and services is a significant cultural trend. Moreover, visual communication is utilized not just for entertainment, but also by business, education, and almost all segments of our economy to some extent.

There is a looming labor shortage in the AV industry, according to the ICIA. Their estimates are that the U.S. AV communication workforce will grow by 20,000 to 30,000 new high-wage, high-skill technical jobs each year over the next five years. Despite these tough economic times, a recent survey at the end of 2002 showed that many AV companies were seeing more business than in the previous year.

Not only are audiovisual professionals in demand, but they also are well paid and trained in fascinating high-tech fields. A student interested in audiovisual careers may find work as a technician, project manager, salesperson, engineer, or designer. Or they might become an AV technology manager in a business, university, government agency, or other type of company.

To speak of entertainment technology can reveal some overlap in artistic and technological communication industries. In addition to AV communication, it may also include Web design and development, digital visual media, multimedia, and music recording and production--to name only a few areas.

All About Education

While previously many people may have stumbled into a job in the AV industry, today there is a solid career path for students to follow in this field. The ICIA has taken the lead in the industry to promote education in audiovisual communication careers.

According to Terry Friesenborg, CTS, Senior Vice President of Education and Information Resources for ICIA, the association's primary focus has always been education, not only for the incumbent worker but also for students who are interested in entering the field.

"It's difficult to attract workers who don't even know there's an industry to join," notes Friesenborg. "With the shortage of workers we are facing, it is vital to raise awareness of our industry at all levels."

Every day more than 2,000 people are enrolled in ICIA online courses. One of their major educational efforts is known as AV Tech Online--a partnership between the trade association and seven different community colleges. …

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