Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

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Film, TV and Music Technicians

Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

The chances of getting work as a film, TV, or music technician are limited because the news and entertainment industry in New Zealand is small and competition for roles is high. Many in this industry work as freelancers and it can be hard to get established.

How to become a film, TV, or music technician

What they do

Film, TV, and music technicians work with pictures and sound for movie producers, TV stations, music studios, and radio stations. Roles in this category include cameramen, lighting technicians and sound technicians. They are responsible for the technical aspects of producing entertainment and their contribution is largely unseen.

Their tasks may include:

  • operating microwave equipment to transmit video information to transmitter sites and receiving video signals from remote locations
  • maintaining and repairing radio and television transmitters and associated equipment
  • selecting and attaching equipment to cameras, positioning cameras, and following the action of scenes being photographed while adjusting controls
  • positioning equipment, such as spotlights, floodlights and cables, and operating lights during filming, broadcasting and stage performances
  • applying and retouching make up during shooting and performance, including special effects make up such as scars and wounds
  • designing and making musical instruments and instrument parts using specially selected materials and techniques similar to those used in cabinetmaking, metal pipe making, silversmithing and wood carving, and tuning and repairing musical instruments
  • setting up and adjusting equipment such as microphones, and operating sound mixing consoles and associated equipment to regulate volume and sound quality
  • selecting and setting up television recording, editing and mixing equipment, and adjusting and monitoring their operation.

Qualifications needed

There are no specific entry requirements to become a film, TV or music technician. Most skills are learnt on the job. However, starting out as a film, TV or music technician can be difficult, and many people choose to complete tertiary education in communication and media studies.

Any previous experience can help when trying to secure a first job, so students that are interested in this field should seek out volunteering opportunities to gain experience and increase their chances of getting a job.

There are many possible tertiary qualifications for someone wanting to enter this industry. Many universities offer undergraduate degrees in film and media studies. Some polytechnics also offer relevant studies, especially in audio production. Finally, there are some specialised institutions in this area, such as the New Zealand Film and Television School and the SAE Institute.  

Cost of study

The least expensive way to become a film, TV or music technician is to train on the job. However, it can be hard to get that first job in without any qualifications or experience.

As there are many different institutions and qualifications that could be relevant for film, TV and music technicians, costs can differ greatly. The specialist institutions are usually the most expensive places to study, while polytechnics are the least expensive, or even sometimes free. First time students may be eligible for fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to Check directly with course provider which fee applies for the desired qualification.

Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.

The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.

Tenancy Services:  

Where to study

Two specialist providers of film, TV and music technician qualifications are the SAE Institute and the New Zealand Film School. You can also study film and media at various universities, wānanga and polytechnics throughout the country. Careers New Zealand’s website has a searchable database of NZQA-registered courses.

New Zealand Film and Television School: 
Careers NZ, Education and training:

Completed qualifications

The number of students completing a Level 4 certificate in  Electrical & Electronic Engineering & Technology has declined slightly in recent years, from a top of 380 in 2013. Qualifications at other levels are also available.

Qualification completions chart



Source: Ministry of Education

Income and employment prospects


The average annual income for film, TV and music technicians is estimated to be around $54,300.

Estimated Average Income

Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index

Employment and skill shortages

Film, TV and music technicians’ employment

HistoricProjected Growth
2006 2013 2023 2028
2,244 2,463 2,850 3,140
  1.3% 2.4% 1.6%

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Projected growth is for the broader category of “Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers”.

The number of film, TV and music technicians employed in New Zealand increased over the period from 2006 to 2013. Future growth for the wider category of ‘Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers’ is projected to be 2.4% in the period 2018-2023, and 1.6% out to 2028.

There is, however, plenty of competition for available roles, which means it can be hard to find work. Film, TV and music technician employment is also often characterised by freelancing, which can feel less secure than permanent roles. 

Employment chart

Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections

Some film technicians, particularly multimedia specialists and film animators are on Immigration New Zealand's long term skills shortage lists. If a job appears on the list, it means the government is actively encouraging skilled people in the role to come and work in New Zealand. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Immigration NZ, skill shortage list:

Where to find job vacancies

Although some film, TV and music technician vacancies are advertised through talent agencies and websites such as Trade Me Jobs and Seek, most rely on connections and reputation to find work. Employment can also be found through proactive job-seeking with potential employers.

Trade Me Jobs: 

Career path

There is no clear career path for film, TV and music technicians. Pay rates vary depending on your ability and experience, location, and the type of work.

Related Occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require different qualifications and skills than film, TV and music technicians.

  • Audio Visual Technician
  • Cameraman
  • Film and Video Editor
  • Film/Television Camera Operator
  • Lighting Technician
  • Make-up Artist
  • Performing Arts Technician
  • Sound Technician

Other information


More information on film, TV and music technicians is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.

Careers New Zealand:
Just the Job video clip: A Career in Television


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of film, TV and music technicians has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:

399512 – Camera Operator (Film, Television or Video)
399513 – Light Technician
399514 – Make Up Artist
399516 – Sound Technician