If you were about to give a talk to a class or present something at a meeting, to whom
would you turn? The best option would be a media specialist. Media specialists get to work
with multimedia equipment (such as television and video equipment), cameras, film projectors,
slides, and recording equipment, usually on behalf of a school, library, or business. A
media specialist is a type of teacher who works with multimedia equipment to make classes,
presentations, and lectures more vibrant and exciting. They are sometimes called library
media specialists, and, like librarians, they help teachers and lecturers choose and locate
audiovisual aids that are used in classrooms, training sessions,
conferences, seminars, and workshops. They acquire,
catalog, and maintain collateral material such as films, video
and audiotapes, photographs, and software programs. Media specialists largely work for
schools and institutions of learning, but some of them work in libraries, government agencies,
private industries, and other businesses.
Media specialists working in school systems help teachers by finding relevant material
to be used as teaching aids. They work closely with teachers in ordering course materials,
determining what training aids are best suited for particular grade levels, and instructing
teachers and students in the operation of audiovisual equipment. They also perform simple
maintenance tasks such as cleaning monitors and lenses and changing batteries and lightbulbs.
Technicians usually handle repairs and more complex maintenance work.
Government agencies, medical and industrial corporations, international humanitarian
organizations, and other nongovernmental organizations that need to train workers and distribute
information to the public require the services of media specialists. Some media specialists
will find work researching and developing public service announcements run by
health, welfare, and social services; community action groups; and radio and television stations.
Professionals keep on top of developments in media and learning methods by attending
conventions, conferences, and seminars; reading trade journals; and communicating with
industry insiders. Much of their time is spent previewing products, ordering supplies, and
organizing materials. Even though most media specialists have heavy schedules, their reward
comes with the knowledge and enlightenment they help bring to students and other audiences.
A bachelor’s degree in educational media or instructional technology is the basic requirement
for this profession. A master’s degree in these programs or in communications, library
science, library media, or education will benefit individuals applying for work in the school
system. Many media specialists start out as teachers and, with additional training, move into
this profession. Aspirants to the profession can greatly enhance their job prospects by doing
volunteer work in media centers at local libraries or finding part-time employment with
companies that sell or produce audiovisual programs and equipment. They must be able to
operate different kinds of audiovisual equipment and instruct others on how to operate them
as well. Applicants must be inventive, creative, and able to adapt to different environments.
Since a media specialist’s salary depends on experience and geography, the specialist will have
to work hard at his or her craft before salary scales rise to an optimum level.
Since most media specialists start out as teachers, people who leave the profession often
return to teaching. Even professionals without a basis in education can quite easily make the
transition to this profession. With a PhD, media specialists may find work teaching at colleges
and universities and as directors of media programs.