What Does an AV Technician Do?
Good AV technicians are rarely seen or heard, but their work behind the scenes ensures that a client’s message comes across loud and clear.
Audio video technicians set up and run the sound and video equipment used to conduct and share live events. That can be anything from video meetings and distance-learning classes to sporting events and conventions. They are essential for all types of businesses and industries.
AV technicians — also called audio visual technicians, AV techs, audio video technicians or audio and video equipment technicians — operate audio and visual equipment including microphones, audio speakers, video screens, projectors, video recorders and other recording equipment, video monitors, and sound and mixing boards. AV technicians may also set up and operate custom lighting systems. They may even do electrical wiring and basic construction.
AV techs work in commercial and residential settings. Both focus on creating the best user experience, but commercial AV techs typically interact with a go-between while residential AV techs, such as the one we profile below, typically interact with the people who will be using the equipment every day.
It’s helpful when technicians have good customer service skills and are able to work well with different personality types. That makes it easier to focus on the real task: creating memorable audio-visual productions.
Keep on reading to learn what kind of training and education you’ll need, and hear from a pro what it’s like to do this job.
- Set up and operate sound and video equipment
- Confer with clients to confirm production direction and timing
- Connect wires and cables
- Monitor sound and video feeds to ensure quality
- Test and resolve equipment issues
- Mix sound inputs and feeds
- Create and install custom lighting systems
- Maintain inventory of equipment
How To Become an AV Technician: FAQs
What steps to I take to become an AV tech?
For an entry-level position, you’ll definitely need a high school diploma or equivalent. While in high school, look for opportunities to learn, such as volunteering for a local theater group. This may also take the form of an internship.
If you want to advance in the field, earn a certificate or an associate degree in audiovisual technology or digital media. (Some employers will look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree, but that isn’t as common.)
Degree programs cover the basics of audio technology, video technology, projection systems, lighting and computer graphics. You'll also learn practical skills such as video editing and production management.
Another worthwhile step is certification. Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification is the most common one. A CTS creates and operates many types of AV solutions for pre-recorded and live events. A CTS-D certification focuses on design, while CTS-I focuses on installation. Getting certified is one more signal to employers that you are qualified and ready to get to work.
Certifications are offered by organizations such as the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA) and InfoComm.
Are there any other qualifications to consider?
You’ll need a driver’s license to make traveling to locations easy, especially if you plan to be a freelancer. You’ll also need to be flexible when working with clients. Night and weekend work is likely, especially when you're starting out.
How long does it take to become an AV technician?
A certificate typically takes a year. An associate degree takes two years, and a bachelor’s degree takes four years. Continuing education in the form of certifications is ongoing and important. The technology will change, and you want to keep up with it!
Are there different types of AV technicians?
Some audio and video equipment technicians specialize while others become generalists. Areas of specialization include broadcast technology, technology installation and sound engineering. (To learn about a related role, read about becoming a broadcast engineer or technician.)
Choose the technology or equipment you are naturally good at handling and you’ll be on the right track.
Is there a demand for AV techs?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 10% growth for audio visual technician jobs and related careers in the United States between 2021 and 2031. For example, schools and businesses have ramped up their audio-video capabilities over the last few years, and hybrid solutions have become the norm.
What skills and natural abilities would make someone a good fit for this job?
Successful AV technicians tend to share certain traits, including:
- A good eye for image quality and a good ear for sound
- Excellent communication skills
- Enjoys a changing work environment and like to travel
- Good at troubleshooting
- Very comfortable working with computers and multimedia production software
- Physically fit and able to lift heavy equipment
- Good team player
- Works well under deadline pressure