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The term "boom operator" is used to describe two very different careers. One is a member of a military crew who assists in the refueling of aircraft, and the other operates microphone equipment in a sound or video recording. Outside of the military, the term boom operator always refers to someone who operates sound recording equipment. There are four steps required to become a boom operator outside of the military: complete a training program, obtain related work experience, make contacts in the recording industry and become an independent contractor.
Someone who wants to become a boom operator often is naturally outgoing, physically fit and interested in working in the film industry. He or she needs to be able to travel, work long hours and hold a heavy microphone for several hours. A career as a boom operator can lead to other opportunities in the film industry, such as a position as a sound engineer or mixer.
There is no specific program designed to become a boom operator. Instead, colleges offer programs in broadcast media, film recording and sound engineering. All of these programs will include courses in how to use a boom microphone, proper placement of the boom and safe lifting techniques.
Work experience that is related to a career as a boom operator includes roles as an audio technician, sound system installer or any position on a movie set or television set. The skills required as a boom operator include listening, carefully following instructions and working as a member of a team. All of these skills can be obtained through positions in customer service.
Most jobs for boom operators are not posted. Instead, film producers, directors and sound engineers usually call people they have worked with in the past or who have been recommended by a colleague. Spend time to develop contacts in the film industry. If you want to become a boom operator, you should be willing to accept any position on a film set. Invest the time to do an excellent job while you are building a network of contacts. This is the most effective way to secure a position as a boom operator.
Television stations and film production companies sometimes hire boom operators as full-time staff members. However, most other employers in this industry have short-term projects that require a boom operator. Setting up a business as an independent contractor is a great way to advertise your services and secure contracts on film sets.