Become a Production Assistant: Education and Career Roadmap
Learn how to become a production assistant. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career as a production assistant.
Production Assistant Requirements
Production assistants (PA) work on television, news and film sets assisting production staff. They may review rough cuts, arrange schedules, track invoices and provide basic administrative support. Some PAs may assist sound and lighting technicians. A production assistant position is an entry-level job and a starting point for individuals who want to advance in the field. There is no specific education, licensure or certification required to work as a PA, but those who want to advance in their career and obtain directing, lighting or sound jobs may need formal training. The table below contains the requirements to become a PA based on job postings found on CareerBuilder.com in September, 2012:
|Degree Fields_||Film and television production, film studies|
|_Experience||Previous experience through a formal training program may be preferred by some employers|
|_Key Skills||Must be detail oriented and able to follow directions, work well under pressure and multi-task|
|_Computer Skills||Familiarity with Final Cut Pro and DVD production programs|
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Employers may prefer graduates with a bachelor's degree. Undergraduate degree programs in film and television production or film studies are available, and often include hands-on or cooperative work experiences. Courses in these programs teach students about the equipment used in production and the different aspects of pre-production, production and post-production techniques and processes. Students in these programs also study film writing, directing, lighting, sound, acting and editing.
- Learn how to use post-production computer software programs. Some employers prefer assistants who can use editing software programs. Learning how to use these programs, such as Final Cut Pro, may be beneficial when seeking a position.
- Complete an internship. An internship with a film, television or production company can be a good way to gain hands-on experience. Internships are a starting point for building a resume, can also provide networking opportunities and may lead to full-time employment after graduation.
Step 2: Complete a Training Program
Some organizations offer 4-6 week production assistant training programs. In these programs, in addition to production courses, students complete hands-on learning opportunities. These programs may also assist students in finding jobs after completion, and some may even provide two years of employment to program graduates.
Step 3: Begin Working in the Field
Employment for production assistants is often available in major cities; however, New York and Los Angeles usually offer the majority of work opportunities. While relocation to one of these cities may need to be considered, film and television shows are filmed throughout the country, making it possible to find a local position. Production assistants usually must be willing to work flexible schedules.
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