Are you ready for a highly technical career? Do you have good listening skills to distinguish and manipulate sounds? Finally, do you have the necessary interpersonal skills to work closely with clients and offer high-quality work?
Are you an audiophile? Or do you have an insatiable love for sound? A career as an audio engineer can be the way for you. Learn what it takes on how to become an audio engineer.
Audio engineers operate computers and electrical equipment to record, mix and play sounds for various entertainment media. They are responsible for the music and sounds that people regularly listen to on radio, television and on the Internet.
Anyone contemplating a career as an audio engineer should consider:
In this article, we promise to equip you with relevant information about audio engineers and how to become an audio engineer.
Who is an audio engineer?
Audio engineers are also known as sound technicians or sound engineers. The specific responsibilities of these different titles may vary. Sound engineers perform live shows such as concerts and plays, record and produce in the studio, and work sound systems for radio, television, and movie or video recording companies, or in the field of entertainment. They installed audio equipment, such as microphones and speakers.
Audio engineers are responsible for ensuring that all equipment works properly before the transmission or event. They monitor the equipment during the transmission or the event to ensure that there is no feedback and that the sound levels are ideal.
Audio engineers may also be responsible for repairs as necessary when there is a problem with the sound equipment.
An audio engineer is both an artist and a scientist. The requirements of the profession involve working with the technical aspects of sound for reproduction, mixing and recording purposes.
These career professionals know well how each aspect of a recording studio works and how each team contributes and maximizes the potential of the audio material.
To become a sound engineer, look for a sound engineer to look, help and take advantage of any opportunity to work with the sound equipment you can get. Getting a degree can help you get a job as a sound engineer. You must be flexible, have strong skills with people and persevere in setbacks.
Do I need a degree to become an audio engineer?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the US, audio engineers generally need postsecondary education, either an untitled degree or an associate’s degree, to qualify for most jobs in the field.
Aspiring audio engineers must complete high school courses in electronics, mathematics, physics and computer science before embarking on a post-secondary job. In some cases, they may be eligible for entry-level positions with a high school diploma.
Prospective students may choose to complete certificates, associate’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees in audio production.
Post-secondary audio programs without a degree usually take several months or a year to complete. They include theoretical work and practical experience with teams of audio engineers.
The course work in these programs generally consists of music theory, studio recording and sound perception.
Students who take advanced classes can choose to complete design projects and internships to have a competitive advantage once the degree is completed.
Since technology is constantly improving, audio engineers must be aware of the latest equipment and techniques.
BLS recognizes the need for engineers to enroll in continuing education programs to receive the necessary training to keep up with new equipment and hardware. These programs usually last 6 months.
What do audio engineers do?
The US Department of Labor Statistics (BLS) recognizes that sound engineers work in a variety of venues, including recording studios, sports venues, theater productions, and film and video productions.
They can also act as consulting engineers working outside studios or specializing in selected areas such as acoustic sounds, broadcasting, and sound reinforcement.
Audio engineers operate and maintain sound devices to record, synchronize, mix and play sounds.
Some of their projects could be music related. In this case, they have to manage voice, sound, acoustic and electronic sound systems.
Other jobs could be self-contained creations that pick up different sounds and combine tracks into multi-layered, finished products.
Audio engineers operate a variety of sound and electrical appliances. For example, they can use soundboards and transmitters to broadcast radio and television programs and switch to computer software to handle sound recordings.
What does an average day look like for an audio engineer?
An average day for an audio engineer can involve a number of tasks.
Here are some of the tasks that you can do on a particular day:
Most audio engineers start their day or plan to set up their devices. This can include setting up and testing sound cards, microphones, and headsets.
When working on an event, audio engineers need to set up live performance devices.
You would also need to set up devices that can minimize unwanted noise on the set.
Their other responsibilities include the installation of audio, video and sometimes even lighting equipment in the designated places.
The course lasts 6 months – 1 year. During the course, a student learns the science of sound engineering, sound equipment, and their functions. The diploma sound engineer program also focuses on music and training in sound software
Certifications & Proficiency
Audio engineers must be proficient in intricate computer software. Since they use computer systems to program their equipment and edit audio recordings, they’ll need to have the proper computer skills to master this part of their career.
While most employers don’t require certifications, some audio engineers choose to earn certifications to gain a competitive advantage in the job market.
According to the BLS, certifications can inform employers of the candidate’s advanced proficiencies and expertise in new technologies.
Audio engineers interested in gaining certification can often do so through their postsecondary program or by participating in training conducted by audio engineering societies.
Certifications usually involve the successful completion of a course and an exam.
How does an Audio Engineer find Work?
Internships allow aspiring audio engineers to make connections and network with potential employers.
Generic job search tools also provide plenty of applicable job posts. But the best way to finding a job as an audio engineer is to join professional affiliations and look through their job databases.
There are several professional affiliations that provide exhaustive job databases.
The Audio Engineering Society, for instance, provides a list of jobs within the audio engineering fields.
Additionally, audio engineers should take advantage of their post-secondary school’s job placement programs. A lot of them show success rates by helping students find jobs.
The Recording Connection, for example, boasts that 72% of its graduates land a job in the music or recording industry, either before or right after they graduate.
Do audio engineers make good money?
In 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that sound engineering technicians earn an average yearly salary of $68,180.
The top 10% in the field can expect to earn average yearly salaries of $125,230, while the bottom 10% earn, on average, $25,880.
Audio engineers living in California, New York, Utah, Tennessee, and Louisiana reside in the country’s top-paying states for this occupation.
Can an audio engineer increase his salary?
There are a few ways to increase one’s chances of reaching the higher end of the salary range.
One primary tip for an audio engineer to increase his salary is to earn certification in the field. While not required by most employers, the BLS reports that certifications could give candidates a competitive edge as large stations tend to value audio engineers with more specialized skills.
To qualify for managerial roles, such as chief engineer positions at large stations, audio engineers should consider attaining a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science, which invariably increases his salary as an audio engineer.
Another great tip to earn higher salaries is to seek jobs in industries that are known for paying more.
The BLS reports that audio engineers who work in software publishers; motion picture and video industries; and computer systems design and related services make an annual yearly salary of $89,220 to $94,570.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 8% from 2016 to 2026. That is about as fast as average for all occupations.
This growth is expected to be seen in businesses, schools, and radio and television stations.
Where are the best places for an audio engineer to work in?
Audio engineers can fit into a number of workplaces that has the use of audio technology and these places include the following;
What qualities are required for an audio engineer?
Personality & Skills
Audio engineers have a combination of important personality traits and abilities that make them remarkable in their work. They have excellent communication skills so they can communicate with their team members to ensure that their customers’ needs are met.
They also communicate in a friendly and professional manner with their customers in order to satisfy them and achieve a high customer retention rate.
Communicating with other employees also ensures the seamless setup and smooth operation of all devices, making work on key events and productions smoothly and effortless.
Skillfulness in adjusting Dials, Knobs, and Sliders
Audio engineers also have manual dexterity, a steady hand, and hand-eye coordination needed to master their audio equipment by adjusting dials, knobs, and sliders. Without these three skills can greatly undermine their work, especially during live performances and broadcasts.
Where can I study audio engineering?
There are many institutions where you can obtain training and a degree in audio engineering. Most of these schools have been offering the course for a long time and has produced the best graduates of audio engineering.
They have high tech and top-notch equipment for constant practice during studies. Most audio engineering programs consist of a four-year degree that combines general education requirements with music and production courses.
Online courses are rare since this industry requires hands-on education. School considerations should include the access you have to sound studios and recording labs, student-run programs, and labels, high-tech equipment, and apprenticeships with renowned artists and organizations. They include the following;
American University, Washington DC.
The MA in audio technology at American University focuses on both the art and science of music technology to prepare students for a variety of careers in the industry.
Students take courses in critical listening, sound synthesis, music production and mixing, digital instrument design, post-production, and film scoring.
As a student in the Audio Technology Program, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the areas that interest you most, from sound design to music production.
You’ll work alongside nationally recognized audio engineers and faculty with industry expertise, gaining the practical experience top recording studios and production facilities look for in their new technicians.
Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
At Belmont University, the Audio Engineering Technology (AET) major is designed to connect the art, science and practical application of audio engineering technology with a theoretical foundation to prepare students for all aspects of a career in Audio Engineering.
AET graduates work in a wide variety of audio engineering technology fields, including operation, installation, manufacturing, and design of audio systems and equipment used in music, film and live event production.
Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry is recognized as one of the largest and best audio engineering programs in the world. A B.S. in Audio Production and a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Recording Arts & Technology are available.
Undergraduates are encouraged to pursue a technical minor, such as Electro-Acoustics, Computer Science or Entertainment Technology. The campus offers six recording studios and separate lab spaces for mastering, cinema mixing, post-production, and MIDI.
Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Tuition: $84,000 (for the entire program)
A self-described “technological and creative playground,” Full Sail University supplies three audio engineering pathways that result in a B.S. in Recording Arts, Music Production or Show Production.
The Central Florida campus provides more than 110 studio and production environments, including Full Sail Live, a high-tech music venue. Your training includes mixing on-stage sound for live bands, engineering artist recording sessions and editing audio for student-developed shows and games.
Full Sail’s online Audio Production courses let you earn your A.A. in 20 months.
Institute of Production and Recording, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The IPR College of Creative Arts quickly trains you for a career in audio engineering. The A.A.S. in Audio Production and Engineering degree is centered on core musical concepts and technical skills with courses ranging from song arrangement and chord structure to advanced recording and editing techniques.
A.A.S. degrees in Sound Design for Visual Media, as well as Live Sound and Show Production, are also available. The Minneapolis campus includes six labs and seven studios that are open 24 hours, which are available to new graduates for one year.
New York University-Steinhardt, New York
While studying for your undergraduate, master’s or doctorate degree in Music Technology at NYU-Steinhardt, you are able to experiment in 13 studios, including the 7,500-square-foot James L. Dolan Music Recording Studio.
An industry leader in technology, the facility supports recording, teaching and research projects. The internationally recognized program offers more than 40 diverse courses in music technology, including sound engineering, multimedia production, and software development.
Interns are placed with premier recording studios, music scoring houses, symphonies and theaters in the Big Apple.
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The prominent performing arts college added a Music & Technology degree program in 2009 to train students in the electrical engineering and computer science aspects of the industry.
While earning your B.S. in Music Technology, you’ll study everything from calculus to harmonies to Pro Tools software skills. In the Master of Science in Music & Technology program, you direct your course of study by choosing an emphasis, such as technologically assisted composition or performance, computer music systems or instrument design.
Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts
A Music Production and Engineering degree from the prestigious Berklee College of Music gives you access to award-winning mentors and premier recording studios that are filled with the industry’s latest equipment and open 21 hours every day.
You gain hands-on experience in everything from synthesis technologies to digital audio editing to producing music compositions.
Berklee Online also offers a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Electronic Music Production and Sound Design along with a variety of specialist, professional and master certification courses.
Through Coursera, you can access their online courses with a free 7-day trial.
University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Massachusetts
The Sound Recording Technology program is the largest division of the UMass Music Department. Notable recording, production and broadcasting professionals lead the bachelor’s and master’s degree curriculum.
You train in a 1,200-seat concert venue, six recording studios, eight studio labs, and 30 practice rooms. A musical entrance audition is required. A combo bachelor/master’s degree can be earned in five years and comes with a technical or production concentration.
The Los Angeles Film School, Los Angeles, California
Earn your A.A.S. in Recording Arts in the heart of Hollywood’s entertainment industry. This 18-month program covers everything from live show productions to mixing a record to post-production for movies.
Prominent industry insiders often stop by campus, and every student receives a loaded MacBook, professional mic and headphones. You also graduate with your Avid Pro Tools certification.
Frequently Asked Questions
What degree do you need for audio engineering?
Sound engineers are also known as audio engineers, mixers, sound technicians and mixers. Although some may be hired with a high school diploma or equivalent, they typically require a postsecondary education up to an associate degree, which is available from technical schools or community colleges
How long does it take to become a audio engineer?
The length of the program varies with the different degrees. An Associate of Science requires approximately two years of study. Most Bachelor of Science programs take four years to complete.
Is being a music producer hard?
Being a music producer is difficult for a number of reasons. The first one is that it takes a long time to get to a level where your music is actually worth releasing. Most importantly though, and despite the difficulty, being a music producer is rewarding!
Do audio engineers make good money?
As of 2011, sound engineers earned an average of just over $56,000 per year, or about $27 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median of all salaries reported for this occupation was $46,750 per year, with the middle-earning half of sound engineers earning between $31,070 and $70,360 a year.