Audio Technology Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Learn about academic programs in audio technology. Explore the wide range of careers for graduates of these programs, and learn about salary prospects for the field. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can I Do with a Audio Technology Major?

Audio technology programs prepare students for various positions where they set up or run sound equipment. Some of the possible job titles include audio/video technicians, broadcast technicians and sound engineering technician. A sound engineering technician is in charge of the audio equipment necessary for a variety of performances, including movies, sound recordings for media such as CDs and MPs, and live concerts and performances. Broadcast technicians specifically work for radio and television programs. A/V technicians work with both audio and video equipment, including monitors, screens, projectors, microphones, speakers, and video or audiorecording equipment.

The table below provides some basic information for these careers:

Audio/Video TechniciansBroadcast TechniciansSound Engineering Technicians
Education Required Postsecondary nondegree award/associate's degree Postsecondary nondegree award/associate's degree Postsecondary nondegree award/associate's degree
Key Responsibilities Troubleshoot and repair audio and video equipment Position & configure audio equipment, choose digital audio file formats for a recording, maintain session logs Monitor and repair audio/sound equipment
Job Growth (2014-24) 12%* -6%* 8%*
Median Salary (2015) $41,440* $37,490* $53,330*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Audio Technology Technician Do?

The term 'sound engineering technician' is typically used for those who use computers and equipment to record music, voices and sound effects. They may also create synthetic sounds for films or edit, mix, and synchronize audiorecordings. Professionals who specialize in this process are called recording engineers or sound mixers, although the duties of each title varies slightly. They may be hired at concerts and conventions, but also at sports events and meetings or conferences. Sometimes sound technicians who specialize in portable equipment in a variety of spaces are called field technicians. In larger organizations, a chief engineer is required to be in charge of all other technicians.

What Schooling Can I Take for Work in Audio Technology?

A bachelor's degree with a major in broadcast technology, recording arts or audio technology is required for many careers in the broadcast field. Technical training or associate's degree programs can qualify you for some basic jobs, but a bachelor's degree could be a course to advancement, explains the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Academic programs usually have you complete hands-on training in engineering recording sessions. Therefore, fully online degree programs are unlikely to be available.

You can expect to take courses in music theory, vocal production, music history and law while earning a baccalaureate degree. You will also learn production techniques using Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI. These academic programs offer a wide range of coursework, from communications to instruction in running sound equipment.

What Careers Can I Find?

After graduation from an audio technology program, you could apply for a job as an audio equipment technician, sound engineering technician or broadcast engineer. If you become an audio equipment technician, you would be responsible for the setup and maintenance of electronic equipment for news presentations, concerts and similar events, according to O*Net Online, a U.S. government-sponsored site (http://online.onetcenter.org/). Sound engineering technicians operate the equipment to record and transmit music or speech in theaters for stage productions, concert venues and convention centers. Sound engineers also test and maintain equipment for recording sessions and performances, explains the BLS.

According to O*Net, broadcast technicians operate equipment that transmits recorded and live programming on radio and television. Broadcast technicians are also responsible for signal monitoring and alignment of antennae to ensure quality signal distribution. The Society of Broadcast Engineers (www.sbe.org) offers many professional certifications at multiple levels. The Certified Broadcast Technologist exam is open to anyone, but candidates for the Certified Audio Engineer exam need five years of experience, education or both.

What Salary Could I Earn?

Salary potential varies with the position you wish to take, your level of experience, your location and the industry within which you work. According to the BLS, most audio equipment technicians earned $22,770-$77,440 annually in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Those in radio and television broadcasting earned a mean wage of $42,030 per year. Meanwhile, in the electric power generation, transmission and distribution field, audio equipment technicians' mean wage was $63,190 annually.

The majority of broadcast technicians earned wages between $19,030 and $79,260 per year in 2015, the BLS said. In the advertising and public relations industry, their mean salary was $49,390, but broadcast technicians working for the federal government netted a mean salary of $91,940 per year (over $44 hourly). Sound engineering technicians earned a median salary of $53,330 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Whereas sound engineering technicians typically focus on audio-recording, film editors and camera operators focus on the more visual video-recording. They record and edit moving picture. As mentioned previously, some technicians work both in video and audio. Computer support specialists assist individuals and/or organizations with the use of computer hardware and software. This might include audio-recording software.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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