However, when it comes to actually getting a job, the television industry seems relatively closed-off to outsiders, unless you are willing to live in New York or Los Angeles and work from the ground up, or you get a lucky break and a television show comes to your town and they happen to need crew people or actors. The first thing you need to do if television is really a career you want to pursue is decide what part of the television industry you want to work in and then what part you are willing to work in. Then you will probably have to move to New York or Los Angeles to pursue this decision.
Working on the Development Side
Thinking of the shows, developing the shows and buying the shows happens at different levels of the television industry and has different types of jobs associated with it. The people who create shows and try to get them produced are usually seasoned television writers and producers who have sold a script or five and have produced a number of television episodes for years. That said, if you have great creative ideas, study how stories on television are told, start writing a few television pilots and thinking about how the show would look as a series.
However, you'll have to make money in the meantime, so you will probably have to get a job in a television development office doing coverage on scripts, where you read them and write reports for executives, or answer phones, screen emails and become a secretary / personal assistant. After a year or two of this, you will see other doors open. This can be done at a production company or network level, though getting a job at a television network is much more difficult than a production company, as there are many fewer of them. Be prepared to sit behind a desk for 8 to 10 hours a day though and have someone order you around.
To find a job in this part of the television industry will require some good connections and possibly some desk job experience.
Production is where a lot more of the fun is in the television industry, where you get to work on set with the creative team and all of the people who make it happen, from the art department to the camera department to the actors. Thanks to the boom of reality television, there are a wide variety of television productions these days, some where you are one of a hundred crew members and others where you are one of five crew members with much more responsibility. Getting jobs on the bigger television shows requires knowing the right people at the right time and proving you can do the job. You will probably start as a Production Assistant, also known as a P.A., doing anything and everything for people above you on set.
As you work on more and more sets you will gain more and more knowledge and experience about how each different television production works and what you are best at. Do you like carrying equipment and setting up lighting? Working in the Grip and Electrical department is probably for you. Do you want to work behind the camera, helping to set up shots? Then you'll want to work in the camera department, rising through the ranks as a camera assistant. Do you want to build the sets and create the physical look of the show? Then the art department is where it is at. Do you want to help plan locations and deal with the creative people on the show constantly? Then you'll want to work in production. After enough days working in all of these departments, you will be able to join a Union and have even more job opportunities.
Get that first production assistant job through people you know who work in television or through some of the many internet job posting sites and then work your way in. As difficult as the television industry is to navigate and as tough as it is to predict where the next job will come from, the television industry does appreciate hard-working, reliable and smart people. So try your best to be one of those.