Sound Engineering Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Learn how a major in sound engineering can prepare you for a variety of careers. For information about degree programs, learning outcomes, and potential earnings, read on. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can I Do With a Major in Sound Engineering?

A bachelor's degree in sound engineering covers topics like recording, sound reproduction, and the music industry. Graduates will be adept at the use of sound recording and editing programs and tools. Job options for graduates include sound engineering technicians, broadcasting technicians, and audio and video equipment technicians.

Sound engineering technicians record, mix, synthesize, and edit sounds for a variety of purposes, such as music, broadcasting, video, theater, and more. Broadcast technicians operate and repair equipment designed to strengthen and regulate broadcast signals for broadcast media, ensuring that picture and sound quality remain clear and consistent. Audio and video equipment technicians are in charge of setting up and operating the recording equipment utilized by these professionals, assisting them by recording clear and focused audio and video for later manipulation. Below, learn about some important details related to a career with this major:

Sound Engineering TechniciansBroadcasting TechniciansAudio and Video Equipment Technicians
Degree Required Certificate at minimumAssociate's at minimumCertificate at minimum
Key Responsibilities Operate equipment that records and mixes sound, record live performances and events, operate equipment to broadcast recordings and performancesMaintain equipment that is used in broadcasting to make sure signal strength and overall sound are adequate for television and radio broadcast Set up video equipment, operate equipment, work with monitors, speakers, video screens, and microphones to make sure they are functioning properly for events and conferences
Licensure Requirements Voluntary certification availableVoluntary certification availableVoluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8%-6%12%
Median Salary (2015)* $53,330$37,490$41,440

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is a Sound Engineering Major?

Sound engineering, also called audio engineering, is an academic program that covers the methods and tools for recording, mixing, and reproducing sound. Sound engineering degrees are most commonly available through 2-year technical programs offered by community and technical colleges, but you can find bachelor's degrees through engineering or arts programs at colleges and universities.

Bachelor of Science in Sound Engineering programs may include technical and general education courses in addition to major courses covering music industry information, live music recording, and sound reproduction for theatrical performances. Some programs emphasize the engineering aspects of sound, including analysis and design of electronic and computer audio components.

What Will I Learn?

In sound engineering courses you will learn to use specialized software and hardware including digital audio workstations for recording, mixing, and editing live voice and instrumental sounds. You will learn to mix live and studio music and create sound tracks for video. Critical listening skills are taught so that you will learn to accurately evaluate the quality of sounds. Audio engineering terminology will be introduced in your first semester, including sampling, equalization, noise gates, audio compression, and reverberation. General engineering and advanced math courses are required by some sound engineering programs.

Where Could I Work?

With a degree in sound engineering you can work at television and radio stations, recording studios, theaters and live concert venues. If you like working indoors, then working at a television station or recording studio may be for you. At a recording studio, you could start as a recording engineer who records audio tracks for vocalists or musicians and then move into a job as a music producer who oversees the creative aspects of recording music. At a radio or television station, you could be a sound engineering technician or broadcast technician who records and mixes voice-overs and prepares audio clips for newscasts.

If you enjoy working in a variety of settings, including outdoor arenas, you might like working with a concert band. Sound engineers decide where microphones, speakers, and other audio equipment should be placed for the best sound quality for the audience and for recording purposes.

How Much Could I Make?

Your salary as a sound engineer will depend on the type of employment you choose. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2015 that sound engineering technicians in the United States made an average annual wage of $63,340 (www.bls.gov). According to PayScale.com's 2016 salary data, the hourly rate for audio engineers with over ten years experience started at $20.00 per hour while newcomers to the field started at $16.00 per hour.

What Are Some Similar Careers?

Requiring a bachelor's degree, film and video editors have a job similar in nature to sound engineers. Whereas sound engineers record and edit sound, film and video editors do the same for moving pictures, recording and editing them for a variety of means. Camera operation, including cinematography, is another related career. Camera operators shoot video of different events in a professional manner for broadcast news, film, and more, utilizing different specialized techniques to manipulate the conditions and improve the quality of footage. They also need a bachelor's degree.

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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