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What does a TV presenter do?
A TV (television) presenter is sometimes also known as a TV broadcaster. They appear on our screens and introduce, host or co-host television programmes. Their job also involves introducing and interviewing guests on their shows, presenting information and reporting on events. If there is an audience, a TV presenter will interact with them to keep them and those watching elsewhere entertained.
TV presenters can specialise in different subjects and show types, such as sport, news, weather, current affairs, music, lifestyle, entertainment, chat shows, special interest, etc. They can also focus on a particular audience type, e.g. children. Therefore, what TV presenters do will depend on the types of programmes they present and their audience.
A TV presenter’s main aim is to keep the audience watching their programmes by being engaging and entertaining and ensuring the information presented and content shown are accessible to people. Viewing figures are important, and TV presenters can make or break programmes. Audiences are more likely to tune in regularly if they like the presenter.
TV presenters will carry out many tasks, including planning and rehearsing, receiving briefings, meeting with production teams, appearing on live TV or pre-recorded shows, presenting programmes, interviewing guests, following earpiece instructions, etc. The role may also involve administrative and computer work, e.g. writing scripts and interview questions and researching topics and issues.
TV presenters will work with many colleagues, including co-hosts, other TV presenters, directors, floor managers, production and technical teams, researchers, writers, reporters and other staff. They will also liaise with various external stakeholders, such as journalists, guests, the general public, audiences, agents, regulators (Ofcom), musicians, award show staff, etc.
TV presenters mainly work in TV studios or on location. They can work for different-sized organisations, from small TV companies to large ones with hundreds or thousands of employees, e.g. national broadcasters. There are employed roles available, but most TV presenters will work on fixed-term contracts. There are also freelance opportunities, and some recruitment agencies may offer temporary jobs. Some TV presenters will have agents who help them to get roles and negotiate on their behalf.
A TV presenter’s responsibilities will depend on who they work for, their programme types and intended audiences.
Some examples of common duties for TV presenters can include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Planning and rehearsing programmes.
- Receiving briefings from researchers or conducting their own research on specific topics, guests or issues.
- Writing scripts and interview questions.
- Going through the running order with the production team.
- Appearing on live television programmes or pre-recorded shows.
- Introducing, hosting or co-hosting programmes.
- Presenting programmes, which can involve reading from autocues or scripts, memorising scripts or improvising.
- Interviewing guests in person in the studio, on the telephone or on location.
- Working with studio audiences (where present) and keeping them entertained.
- Providing links between different programmes.
- Going through several ‘takes’ if necessary.
- Following instructions from the director, floor manager or production teams via an earpiece and maintaining communication.
- Ensuring the programme runs to schedule.
- Responding positively and quickly to any issues that may arise, which may require improvisation when things do not go according to plan.
- Liaising with production and technical teams.
TV presenters working for smaller companies and studios may have more responsibilities than those who work for large broadcasters.
A TV presenter’s hours are variable, and it is rarely a 9-5/Monday-Friday job, as their work is not just on-screen presenting. They will need to prepare before shows and plan for future ones after programmes have finished. Therefore, they can work long and unsociable hours, e.g. early mornings, evenings, nights, weekends and bank holidays.
There are different TV presenter roles, so there may be some flexibility, especially with pre-recorded shows. Some employers may offer flexible working options, such as part-time, hybrid, job share and remote. Most roles are on a fixed-term or freelance contract basis.
The role may involve travel, i.e. local, regional or national, depending on if a TV presenter is on location. Overnight stays may be necessary and overseas travel may be required if covering features abroad.
What to expect
There are many positives to being a TV presenter, especially if an individual is confident and loves being in front of the camera. Seeing yourself on TV and knowing that people are tuning in to watch your shows can be exciting and fulfilling. Also, having an opportunity to become famous and be recognised by the general public can be a fantastic experience for some individuals.
Depending on the areas they cover, TV presenters can report on important stories and events and will play an essential role in informing viewers about what is occurring in the world. TV presenters can go home at the end of the working day knowing that their programmes have made a significant difference to people’s lives and society, which can be rewarding.
Boredom will never be an issue for TV presenters. They will meet and interview many people, some of whom may be important, such as celebrities, politicians, royals, religious leaders, charity workers, etc. They will also cover different stories, events and features on their programmes, and some may travel and see various places. No two days are the same in this role.
TV presenters will earn decent salaries, particularly as they become renowned. Some well-known TV presenters working for large broadcasters earn six- to seven-figure salaries. Of course, these earnings are for the most famous. However, there is potential for large salaries for the more talented individuals.
Even though there are positives to being a TV presenter, there are challenges and cons, e.g.:
- Lack of privacy – once an individual is in the public eye and is recognised, there can be a lack of privacy for TV presenters and their families, especially if they become more famous.
- Public image – TV presenters must maintain their public image to be successful in their careers, as their programmes must attract viewers. They will need to be well-groomed and come across positively to audiences. It is also better if they stay out of controversy, as stories can quickly go viral, and individuals can find themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
- Criticism – be prepared for criticism as a TV presenter, especially on social media. Being in the public eye can expose individuals to unpleasant comments and often unfair critiques. If individuals are easily upset, it may not be a suitable role.
- Mental demands – the role is fast-paced. TV presenters will have to cope with a high workload, meet tight deadlines and often appear on live TV, which can be stressful. The ability to cope with pressure is essential, especially if things do not go according to plan. There may be stories which can be hard to deal with, especially if there have been accidents, fatalities and serious injuries. Some TV presenters may see distressing and unpleasant scenes, which can be emotionally demanding. Some guests can also be rude, disruptive and challenging.
- Physical demands – being a TV presenter can also be physically demanding. They will often have to work long and unsociable hours. Some may work on location and be on their feet for long periods, sometimes in all weathers.
- Risks – TV presenters can face verbal, written and physical abuse from the public, especially when covering emotive stories or if they say anything deemed to be controversial. Some TV presenters have been victims of death threats, stalking and violence. There can also be a risk of injury and even death if covering stories in war zones, protests and riots.
- Competition – the competition for TV presenting roles can be fierce. There is also intense competition for viewers between rival broadcasters. Therefore, TV presenters will need to stand out from the crowd, be engaging and confident, and work hard to be successful in this career.
Every career choice has pros and cons, and individuals must know what to expect before deciding whether it is a suitable role. The role is physically and mentally demanding, and there can be a lack of privacy. They will need a positive public image, and they can face criticism. There are risks, and there is a lot of competition for roles. However, there are many positives too. Individuals who become TV presenters love being in front of the camera and presenting to audiences across the country and the globe.
When considering whether to be a TV presenter, individuals should look at the pros and cons. They should also ensure they have the right personal qualities to carry out the role and responsibilities required.
Personal qualities needed to be a TV presenter
Some of the personal qualities a TV presenter requires will include (this list is not exhaustive):
- An interest and knowledge in the areas presenting, such as entertainment, current affairs, sport, etc.
- Knowledge of media, communications and broadcasting, including relevant laws.
- Confident, assertive, determined, motivated, persistent and resilient.
- Engaging, enthusiastic, creative and charismatic.
- Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.
- Presentation and performance skills.
- Interviewing skills.
- Active listening skills.
- Networking skills.
- Concentration skills.
- Team working skills.
- Problem-solving skills.
- Conflict management skills.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Research skills.
- Organisational and time management skills.
- Being thorough, accurate and having excellent attention to detail.
- The ability to work well with others and alone using own initiative.
- The ability to work under pressure and remain calm in stressful situations.
- The ability to be flexible and adapt to change.
- The ability to accept criticism.
- The ability to ask difficult and awkward questions.
- The ability to develop and maintain relationships on and off the camera.
- The ability to read off an autocue in an engaging manner.
- The ability to present complex information simply and concisely.
- The ability to deal with difficult guests during interviews.
- The ability to use IT and software packages.
There are many different routes to becoming a TV presenter. Individuals could go to university or college, enrol on a course with a private training provider or apply for an apprenticeship. They could also do work experience to help them enter the role.
An individual does not need a degree to become a TV presenter. However, having an undergraduate or postgraduate degree can help individuals stand out from the crowd.
Some examples of degrees are as follows (this list is not exhaustive):
- BA (Hons) Journalism.
- BA (Hons) Journalism (Broadcast).
- BA (Hons) Journalism, Media and Culture.
- BA (Hons) Journalism and Communications.
- BA (Hons) Television Production.
- BA (Hons) Media Production.
- BA (Hons) Drama.
- BA (Hons) Performing Arts.
- BSc (Hons) Media and Communication.
- MA Broadcast Journalism.
Other relevant topics may include English, economics, politics, languages, sciences and history. Choose a course that covers some of the knowledge and skills a TV presenter requires.
The entry requirements will depend on each university, and individuals should check before applying. They will typically need two/three good A levels for an undergraduate degree or a certain number of UCAS points to get into university. Postgraduate degrees usually require a 2:1 or 2:2 in a relevant undergraduate degree. Some institutions also invite applicants for an interview as part of the selection process.
Undertaking a college course can help individuals become TV presenters.
Some examples are as follows (this list is not exhaustive):
- Level 2 TV & Film and Journalism (Digital Media).
- Level 2 Diploma in Media and Journalism.
- Level 3 Diploma in Journalism.
- Level 3 Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.
- Level 3 Diploma in TV and Film Production.
- HND Practical Journalism.
Individuals usually need:
- Level 2 – two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent.
- Level 3 – four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent.
- HND – at least one A level and some GCSEs, including English.
Always check the entry requirements before applying.
Private training companies may also offer courses, such as training academies. It may also be worth enrolling on low-cost online short courses to see if a career as a TV presenter is of interest. That way, if it is not, it will save an individual a lot of time and trouble.
Individuals are not guaranteed success with courses and qualifications. However, it will demonstrate to employers and companies that they are keen on the job and may give individuals a competitive edge.
There is an apprenticeship route to help individuals become TV presenters, e.g.:
- Level 3 Content Creator – equivalent to an A level.
- Level 3 Production Assistant (screen and audio) – equivalent to an A level.
- Level 5 Journalist – equivalent to a Higher National Diploma (HND).
- Level 7 Senior Journalist – equivalent to a Master’s degree.
The entry requirements for each apprenticeship will depend on individual employers. Individuals should check before applying.
Opportunities are found on Government’s Apprenticeships, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Indeed. Individual companies may also advertise apprenticeships on their websites, e.g. ITN Apprenticeships and BBC Careers.
As there is fierce competition for roles, individuals should undertake relevant work experience (either paid or voluntary) and showcase their skills. Individuals could start work as journalists or researchers or apply for presenter roles in other media types, such as radio or online. They could also apply for junior jobs, e.g. as a production runner/assistant, or work in other areas of performing arts, such as acting and modelling.
There may be volunteer opportunities where individuals could further develop their knowledge and skills. They could gain presenting experience on local radio (e.g. hospital, student, community or commercial) and TV stations. They could also produce videos on social media or a vlog. It is important to have recordings of this experience to show potential employers or agencies, i.e. showreels. It is also beneficial to have knowledge in a specific subject area, such as gardening, sport, food, politics, celebrities, etc.
Charities and community schemes may need volunteers to produce videos, present information, host podcasts, etc. There is information on volunteering and local opportunities on Do-IT, NCVO, Volunteering Matters and Indeed.
Learning does not stop with experience or once someone becomes qualified. Attending relevant training courses and having additional certifications can help individuals enter the profession, enhance their employability and give them a competitive edge. Many colleges and accredited private training companies can provide relevant training courses.
Some examples of courses that may be useful for TV presenters include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Office health and safety.
- Display screen equipment (DSE).
- Work-related stress.
- Work-related violence.
- COVID-19 awareness.
- Equality and diversity.
- Unconscious bias.
- LGBTQ+ awareness.
- Disability awareness.
- Anti-bribery awareness.
- Conflict management.
- Resilience training.
- Data protection and the GDPR.
- Customer service skills.
- Time management skills.
There are also courses relating to TV presenting that individuals may find useful, such as:
- Media law.
- Interviewing skills.
- Presenting skills and techniques.
- Vocal delivery.
- Editing skills.
- Research skills.
- Public relations.
- Digital journalism.
Professional bodies, councils, unions, charities and associations, such as ScreenSkills, the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU), the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC), the Media Society, the British Association of Journalists and others, can also advise on reputable training courses. Some also provide memberships, events and support to help individuals become TV presenters and give those already in the profession the means to continue their professional development.
The type of training required will depend on who an individual works for and their specialisms. It is worth looking at several job advertisements to identify the training needed for roles. Jobs can be found on websites such as GOV.UK find a job service, Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, BroadcastJobs.com, grapevinejobs, Production Base, the Talent Manager, and others. Also, look at recruitment agencies and UK broadcaster websites, e.g. BBC Careers, Channel 4 Careers and ITV Careers. . Media jobs are not always advertised. Therefore, it is essential to network and develop contacts in the industry to find out about roles.
More relevant training and competence (skills, experience and knowledge) will open up more opportunities. Refresher training is also advisable as it keeps an individual’s knowledge and skills up to date.
Criminal records checks
TV presenters may need a criminal record check, especially if they are working with children. The organisation that holds criminal records will depend on the country within the UK.
- England and Wales – Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Northern Ireland – AccessNI.
- Scotland – Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.
TV presenters are required to attend an audio and screen test.
Where do TV presenters work?
TV presenters can be employed or work for an agency or freelance. There may be permanent roles, but most are fixed contracts.
Some examples of the companies they can work for include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Statutory corporations with a royal charter, e.g. the BBC.
- Independent TV companies, e.g. ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and others.
- Independent production companies (they make programmes for broadcasters).
- Digital, cable and satellite stations, e.g. Sky.
- Interactive service providers.
Stations tend to be local, regional or national, so there is scope to be based anywhere across the UK. However, most TV presenter opportunities are in London and other major UK cities.
TV presenters will predominately work in a television studio but may also need to work on location (indoors or outdoors). There may also be options to work from home for some individuals and opportunities to work overseas.
How much do TV presenters earn?
What a TV presenter earns is highly variable and will depend on their role, specialisms, location, qualifications, experience, who they work for and whether they are employed, agency or freelance, and their contract type.
Some examples of average salaries include (these figures are a guide only):
- Entry-level (less than 1 year experience) – £20,347 a year.
- Early career (1-4 years of experience) – £42,500 a year.
- Mid-career (5-9 years of experience) – £56,000 a year.
- The average salary for a TV presenter – £37,500 a year.
As an apprentice, the salary will depend on an individual’s age and how long they have been in their apprenticeship. Apprentices must earn at least the current National Minimum Wage (NMW). Some employers will pay more than this. However, it will depend on the organisation and role on offer.
Types of TV presenting roles to specialise in
As mentioned, TV presenters can work for local, regional, national or international stations. They may decide to combine their role on TV with other media roles, e.g. radio. They can also specialise in specific subjects and show types.
Such as (this list is not exhaustive):
- Current affairs.
- Royal correspondence.
- Cooking and food.
- Home shopping.
- Chat shows.
- Game shows.
- Comedy shows.
There are also opportunities to specialise in presenting to specific audiences, such as children, adults, women, men, LGBTQIA+, hearing impaired (using sign language), etc.
Various TV presenter roles will require differing knowledge, skills, experience, talents and qualities. All TV presenters must enjoy being in front of the camera and be engaging, charismatic and confident. They must be able to think on their feet if things go wrong, especially when broadcasting live. Any additional areas of expertise will depend on what a company/station is looking for and the presenting role an individual wants. Further knowledge and experience may be necessary for specialised jobs, e.g. children’s TV.
TV presenters not competently carrying out their roles can cause a loss of viewers if their programmes are not engaging and entertaining. This can damage a presenter’s and broadcaster’s reputation. If they present inaccurate information, i.e. on the news, it can cause harm to people’s and companies’ reputations, leading to online abuse. It can also lead to breaches in media, copyright and data protection laws, which may result in prosecutions and civil lawsuits. Therefore, whatever the type of role, TV presenters must have the necessary competence to carry out the work professionally. They should also know the limits of their competency, i.e. asking for help when something is beyond their expertise.
Programmes, trends, laws and technologies are regularly changing. Therefore, TV presenters must keep abreast with the latest developments and changes to ensure they carry out their roles effectively and correctly. Continuing professional development (CPD) gives TV presenters the knowledge and skills to keep up to date with these changes, understand their responsibilities, and progress in their careers.
Joining a professional body, council, charity, union or association, such as ScreenSkills, the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU), the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC), the Media Society, the British Association of Journalists and others, can help individuals enhance their skills and overall career. They may offer different levels of membership, CPD, support, access to industry contacts and networking events.
There is ample opportunity for career progression for TV presenters. With more experience, they can move from a freelance contract position to a full-time permanent role. They could also apply for jobs at national or international broadcasters from local or regional. Alternatively, they may move to prime-time TV or specialise in more complex topics, e.g. news and current affairs.
Knowledge, skills and experience from being a TV presenter can also lead to a career in different areas of media. For example, they could go into acting, radio or publication writing. They may move into other areas, such as production, technical or directing.
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