Production Assistants


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To work in the film or television industry, you should have an understanding of the artistic and technical aspects of production, as well as a broad knowledge of the industry itself. Take courses in photography, broadcast journalism, and media to learn about cameras and sound equipment. Take courses in art and art history to learn about visual composition, and English to develop communication skills. Business and accounting courses can help you prepare for the bookkeeping requirements of office work.

Postsecondary Training

There are no formal education requirements for production assistants. Most people in the industry consider the position a stepping-stone into other careers in the industry. You will learn much of what you will need to know on the set of a film, following the instructions of crewmembers and other assistants. Though a film school education can't guarantee entry into the business, it can give you an understanding of the industry and help you make some connections. Many film students work part time or on a contract basis as production assistants to gain experience while they are still in school. Film studies programs are offered by schools of higher education throughout the United States, including New York University, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Southern California. You may choose to major in English or theater as an undergraduate, and then apply to graduate film schools. There are many good undergraduate programs in film and video with concentrations in such areas as directing, acting, editing, producing, screenwriting, cinematography, broadcast engineering, and television. Some people break into the business without formal training by volunteering on as many film productions as they can, getting to know professionals in the business, and making valuable connections in the industry. Your chances of moving up, however, are better if you have a college degree.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for production assistants.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No experience is needed to work as a production assistant, but those with prior work experience will increase their chances of landing a job, getting promoted, and possibly earning higher pay.

Production assistants need agreeable personalities and willingness to follow instructions and perform simple tasks. You need to catch on quickly to the things you are taught. Organizational skills will help you keep track of the many different aspects of a production. Great ambition and dedication are very important, as getting paying jobs on a production will require persistence. Also, you will not get a great deal of recognition for your hours of work, so you need a sense of purpose and an understanding that you are "paying your dues." A love of movies, video, and television and a fascination with the industry, particularly an interest in the technical aspects of filmmaking, will help you keep focused. Though you need an outgoing personality for making connections on a production, you should be capable of sitting quietly on the sidelines when not needed.