Have you ever watched the traffic reporter on your local news reporting from a helicopter and felt that he (or she) had your ideal job? Would you like to report from a helicopter high above the traffic? Well, people do get those TV jobs, which means that if you're qualified and have the right personal characteristics, you can aim for them, too. Getting work in television isn't easy, though, whether you're looking to work in front of the camera or behind it. These jobs are highly sought after, so competition is high.
The key to landing one of these jobs is to do the necessary preparation to be given an opportunity. These days, many people mistakenly think they can do a course and then just walk into their dream job. While this is not impossible, it rarely happens. You will normally have to work your way up in a job. Even though traffic reporting is not high up the food chain when it comes to reporting in general, you will usually not be able to walk into it without any television station or reporting experience. In fact, most reporters would see traffic reporting as a step in their broadcast journalism career rather than a destination.
If you want a position as a reporter, even a traffic reporter, you will usually need to have completed a four-year degree in broadcast journalism or some similar field. Generally, you will also need to have some on-camera experience, as well as basic journalism experience with a television station. In other words, it isn’t likely that you would be able to walk straight out of college into a traffic reporter position. However, you can increase your chances of landing one of these jobs by doing internships at television stations during your college vacations or obtaining one of a number of TV entry-level jobs.
Smaller regional television stations can be excellent places to start a television journalism career. Undertaking internships in these environments can often be more beneficial to your career than working in menial roles in larger stations. Smaller TV station jobs often need jacks-of-all-trades, and you will have opportunities to fill in for other people and learn the industry. You will be better able to get to know a lot of different people personally in a smaller environment and will be able to express your desire to work as a traffic reporter. You can offer to fill in for the current reporter when he or she is on vacation or ill. By building relationships with your colleagues and superiors while pursuing excellence in your current job, you will attract new opportunities that move you in the direction of your goals.
Personality, however, is definitely important if you want to become a traffic reporter. Traffic reporting requires the ability to ad-lib and think on your feet. You need to not only be able to report on what you’re seeing with your eyes and hearing through feedback; you also need to respond to the news anchorperson. It can be helpful to have a very outgoing personality for this role. If you need a script, this job isn’t for you, and no amount of relationship building and other experience is likely to gain you the job.
If, however, you are the traffic reporter type, have the qualifications, and are looking for an opportunity, why not be unique? Consider hiring a helicopter and a cameraman (perhaps you have a friend who can help) to shoot a promo. Why not show your personality, humor, and intelligence by commenting on the traffic beneath you? You can make copies and send them to television stations along with your resume.
You can find traffic reporter jobs advertised on television station job boards, online job sites in general, and media-related job sites in particular. An Internet search for these jobs will throw up many results, and you will discover many entertainment-specific employment sites which focus on television and film industry jobs. Read the job descriptions and selection criteria where possible to get a general idea of what employers are looking for. This way, you can plan your career to move in the direction needed to get a TV station job as a traffic reporter.
When you’re ready to actively begin applying for positions, it’s important to have an up-to-date, professional-looking resume and an application letter that addresses the selection criteria. Because on-camera experience is also desirable, if not essential, send a DVD of one or more performances if they are good. If your resume, letters of application, and video clips demonstrate your suitability for the positions you apply for, you will be offered some interviews.
Acing the interview for a traffic reporting job will require personal skills not required for many other positions. The job requires a certain charisma and the ability to sound interesting and intelligent under pressure. So, it’s more important to be confident, friendly, and persuasive at your interview than it might be if you were just applying for an accounting position.
By taking some simple steps, though, you will give yourself a substantial competitive edge when applying for traffic reporting positions. Whereas many applicants will be applying cold for these TV jobs, you will have laid a foundation and prepared well. If you take consistent action towards achieving your goal, you will be successful.