Sound Technician Certification and Training Programs

Sound technicians work behind the scenes in the music or movie industry, where they work with audio production technology. Read on to learn what training is available for aspiring sound technicians and how to become certified. Get info on choosing a school, the career outlook and the salary potential for sound technicians. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

If you are passionate about music production and recording, consider enrolling in an audio engineering certificate, associate or bachelor's degree program. Most formal degree programs prepare you for Pro Tools Operator certification exam, and the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offers certification in a variety of areas for working professionals.

Programs Certificate and degree programs offer several areas of specialization, such as production, audio arts, engineering, or editing and mixing
Schools Find a school that utilizes Pro Tools; consider schools with recording studios, sound laboratories, or that have industry-related equipment.
Salary $49,870 (median annual salary as of May 2014)

What Sound Technician Programs Can I Take?

Most certificate programs can be completed in under a year and include courses in music production, editing and mixing. Some schools may offer specialized certificate programs in post-production or live sound recording.

If you want a broader education, you may prefer a degree program in audio arts, production or engineering. Audio arts programs may offer concentrations in audio systems, visual applications or acoustics. In a degree program, you can expect to learn about the physics of sound, the physiology of hearing and equipment installation. Courses can be a combination of lectures and laboratories, which allow you to gain hands-on experience. Because these programs are project-based, distance-learning options are not generally available.

In addition to recording techniques and electronics, many programs include music classes in the curriculum. Typically, you have a choice between music fundamentals, where you learn to play an instrument, or music theory, where you gain an appreciation for different musical styles. If you are passionate about music performance, you may consider a Bachelor of Music program with a minor in audio production.

What Should I Look for in a School?

In the sound engineering field, Pro Tools is the major software program used; as a result, you may want to look for schools in which you use this software in class. Similarly, many schools have recording studios where you can gain hands-on experience with industry-standard software and hardware. As a sound technician, you may record in theaters, studios, arenas or on movie sets. To prepare for you career, consider schools that are equipped with sound laboratories that can mimic these various settings and prepare you for the variables you may encounter in the field.

What Certification Is Available?

Many audio programs include Pro Tools courses that prepare you for the Pro Tools Operator certification exam. Alternatively, you can take exam preparatory classes that introduce you to the software's controls and instrumentation. You can expect the following topics on the Pro Tools Operator certification exam:

  • Editing
  • Importing data
  • Audio recording
  • Mixing
  • Recording sessions

After becoming certified in Pro Tools, you are added to an online database, where clients can contact you. Certification can prove your proficiency in this software. As you advance, you can become a certified operator, certified expert or certified icon mixer.

Additionally, the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offers certification for audio professionals working in recording studios, television stations and production companies. The SBE offers certification examinations in a variety of areas including radio engineer, television engineer and audio engineer. The audio engineer certification requires five years of experience and the examination contains 50 multiple-choice questions.

What Can I Expect from My Career?

Sound technicians, also called sound engineering technicians or operators, are responsible for the recording equipment. As an aspiring technician, you can expect to synchronize sounds and add in sound effects. You may find employment in broadcast studios, where you can work for radio or television stations. If you are interested in the music industry, you may consider working in a recording studio; alternatively, some technicians are self-employed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there may be competition for these jobs, but the median annual salary as of May 2014 is $49,870 (www.bls.gov).

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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