How Do I Become a Sound Engineering Technician?

Research what it takes to become a sound engineering technician. Learn about education requirements, certification options, job growth and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Sound Engineering Technician?

Sound engineering technicians use technical equipment to record and manipulate sound, often for the motion picture and broadcasting industries. Some of their duties include but are not limited to troubleshooting and reporting any issues that arise with equipment, set up and break down of complex equipment in a variety of venues, and converting audio and video in preparation for the editing process. Take a look at the following table to get a brief overview of entry-level requirements for this career field:

Education Required Postsecondary certificate program
Education Field of Study Audio engineering and production
Key Skills Computer skills, manual dexterity, problem-solving abilities
Certification Voluntary certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%*
Median Salary (2015) $53,330* (for all sound engineering technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Sound Engineering Technician Do?

When you work as a sound engineering technician, your main job duty is to operate the equipment that mixes, records and manipulates sound. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sound engineering technicians held 13,840 jobs in the United States as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Many technicians worked for the motion picture and video industries. Radio and television broadcasting companies, sound recording studios and performing arts companies also employed technicians in that year.

If you work for a radio or broadcasting station, your job duties might include operating transmitters and maintaining broadcasting equipment. If you work as a sound engineering technician for a film or television production company, you might be responsible for creating special sound effects and dubbing sounds that can be edited into film. Other general duties might include keeping logs of sound recordings, reproducing sound recordings from old media sources and preparing studios for recording sessions.

What Education Might I Need?

According to the BLS, you'll usually need to complete a vocational program in sound engineering in order to obtain a job as a sound engineering technician. An audio engineering and production certificate program should provide you with a background understanding of audio and sound recording processes. Many programs include hands-on coursework in a professional recording studio. Courses might also cover topics such as music theory, acoustics, sound reinforcement and sound mixing. Some vocational programs include basic courses related to computer science, mathematics and electronics.

Can I Gain Certification?

The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offers certification for technicians in the field. Some of its certifications include Certified Audio Engineer (CEA) or Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer (CBRE). To earn either of these certifications, you'll need at least five years of professional experience in the field; you can usually substitute up to four years of experience for time spent in a related educational program. Certification through the SBE also requires successful completion of an exam.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Since many industries require engineers, some skills may transfer even though the content may need to be learned. For those who prefer the editing side, much of the general knowledge transfers to film and video editors and camera operators. These jobs generally require a bachelor's degree. Electrical engineer techs assist in the development and design of electrical devices. An associate's degree is necessary for a career in this position. Lastly, many engineers have a solid foundation of understanding how things work and find employment as various types of repairers or installers.

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