So, you’re thinking of breaking into the glamorous world of television? First you need to pay your dues and usually this is in the form of working in the decidedly unglamorous role of runner.
It may not exactly be living the dream but it does mean that you’ll learn the ropes and it should lead into a very exciting career in the media. Now, I take my coffee with extra milk…
So, what will I actually be doing?
Runners work across the TV industry so you could be doing anything from helping out on sets to helping out with the editing process post-production. The actual day-to-day jobs you’ll be expected to do, however, aren’t the most exciting, including:
- Making cups of coffee for cast and crew
- Cleaning up sets and green rooms
- Meeting and greeting important guests and TV stars
Photocopying and general admin
- Getting lunch – for everyone!
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The nitty gritty
TV runner jobs are entry-level and you don’t need to be a graduate to get your foot in the door. It’s an important way of gaining essential TV experience in an industry that’s massively oversubscribed. You will learn lots of skills on the job and this is a paid position so you’ll be luckier than many unpaid interns who do similar roles for no money. Well, just about – the pay is NOT good!
Most runners do this job for at least a couple of years before moving into junior or assistant roles.
Money, money, money
You ready for this? Your pay as a runner will be low. Very low. This is similar to an internship and you do still find runners working for free. However, BECTU the union for the media and entertainment industry have set a suggested figure for runners at 33% higher than the National Minimum Wage.
You’re most likely to be paid by the hour than to be given a full salary. Yup, you have a couple more years of beans on toast before you can crack open the caviar!
See what people are earning in this job
The good points...
This is television, dahling! The world of TV can be glamorous and incredibly rewarding with lots of perks as you work your way up the ladder. You’ll be helping to entertain the nation (or annoy them!) with new programming and as you gain experience you’ll also be given responsibilities that could be very engaging. It may involve a lot – and that’s a LOT – of work, but it could be worth every bead of sweat in the long run…
...and the bad
Where do we begin? Runners are the ‘dogs bodies’ of the TV world so every task and job nobody else wants to do will fall to you. And the hours are long – very long – with some tasks proving to be incredibly energy-sapping.
Is there study involved?
You might find that a course in film, TV or media gives you a slight edge when applying for roles but previous study isn’t a must. Sometimes things like producing your own videos on YouTube or getting involved with film or theatre groups actually prove to be more valuable.
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
You have to be incredibly hard working and enthusiastic to be a good runner and you will need to be willing and happy to take on any task that’s given to you, no matter how boring (and, believe me, some of them will be incredibly boring).
It’s also important to be a good networker as you’ll be in competition with lots of other runners for what few TV jobs crop up and the very small number of promotional opportunities that arise.