Boom operator

A boom operator in a TV filming crew


Boom operators set up and operate the boom microphone, either by hand, on an arm or on a moving platform. They make sure that every microphone is correctly stationed on set and in the best position to capture the dialogues. Boom operators are also responsible for the microphones on the actors clothing.

The duties of a boom operator typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Setting up microphones and other recording equipment for each scene
  • Recording takes, noting any mistakes made during recording sessions, and making sure that actors are comfortable with their lines
  • Recording dialogue, sound effects, and other audio elements during filming or video production
  • Coordinating with other crew members to ensure that the sound equipment is working properly during filming
  • Operating boom microphones during filming or video production, including holding them above actors’ heads or behind props that are being filmed
  • Mixing audio elements together to produce a final soundtrack that matches the video footage
  • Performing basic audio cleanup tasks such as removing extraneous noises, adjusting volume levels on specific tracks, or adding special effects to soundtracks
  • Recording narration or other audio content for television commercials, radio ads, or other productions
  • Recording sound effects or other audio elements during video game development and production

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to boom operator:

shotgun microphone operator
shotgun operator
TV boom operator
film boom operator
production sound mixer assistant
sound equipment technician
boom holder
boom op

Working conditions

Boom operators work in the audio/visual industry and are responsible for operating the boom microphone during the filming of movies and television shows. They typically work on location, which means they may have to travel to different locations to work on different projects.

Boom operators typically work long hours, and they may have to work nights and weekends to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful, and boom operators must be able to stay calm and focused under pressure.

Minimum qualifications

Boom operators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may prefer candidates who have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in audio engineering, broadcasting or a similar field. Courses in these programs include audio recording, audio mixing, sound design, music theory and music production.

Most boom operators learn the specific skills and techniques they need for their role while on the job. Training typically includes shadowing an experienced boom operator and performing duties under supervision until they are comfortable enough to work independently. Training may last a few days to a few weeks, depending on the employer and the complexity of the role.

Boom operators may need to obtain a radio operator’s license to work on broadcast equipment. The license allows boom operators to work with high-power radio equipment.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Boom operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Boom operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to boom operator.

recording studio technician
audio-visual technician
camera operator
mastering engineer
audio production technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of boom operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of boom operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

disc jockey
music producer
director of photography
video and motion picture director
voice-over artist

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of boom operator.

  • Acoustics: The study of sound, its reflection, amplification and absorption in a space.
  • Audiovisual equipment: The characteristics and usage of different tools that stimulate the sight and audio senses.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of boom operator.

  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Set up sound equipment: Set up equipment to record sound. Test acoustics and make adjustments.
  • Perform technical sound check: Prepare and run a technical sound check before rehearsals or live shows. Check instrument setup and ensure correct functioning of the audio equipment. Anticipate possible technical problems during a live show.
  • Manage sound quality: Perform sound checks. Set up audio equipment for optimal sound output before as well as during performance. Regulate the volume during broadcasts by controlling the audio equipment
  • Program sound cues: Program sound cues and rehearse sound states before or during rehearsals.
  • Perform soundchecks: Test the sound equipment of a venue to ensure smooth operation during the performance. Cooperate with performers to make sure the venue equipment is adjusted for the requirements of the performance.
  • Consult with sound editor: Consult on the sounds required with the sound editor.
  • Adapt to type of media: Adapt to different types of media such as television, movies, commercials, and others. Adapt work to type of media, scale of production, budget, genres within type of media, and others.
  • Analyse a script: Break down a script by analysing the dramaturgy, form, themes and structure of a script. Conduct relevant research if necessary.
  • Follow directions of the artistic director: Follow the instructions of the director while understanding his creative vision.
  • Use audio reproduction software: Operate software and equipment that transform and reproduce digital, analogue sounds and sound waves into the desired perceivable audio to be streamed.
  • Study media sources: Study various media sources such as broadcasts, print media, and online media in order to gather inspiration for the development of creative concepts.
  • Use technical documentation: Understand and use technical documentation in the overall technical process.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of boom operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
  • Health and safety regulations: Necessary health, safety, hygiene and environmental standards and legislation rules in the sector of particular activity.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of boom operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

3521 – Broadcasting and audiovisual technicians

  1. Boom operator – ESCO
  2. Boom operator Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: Photo by Gerrit Fröhlich on Unsplash
Last updated on February 24, 2023

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