What Does a Sound Engineer Do?

Sound engineers and technicians bring audio to life, distinguishing Madison Square Garden from your karaoke night. Find out more about industries sound engineers can work in and get info on their job duties and salary statistics below. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Sound engineers, also called broadcast or recording engineers, operate the electrical equipment used to record, transmit, and edit sound files. These engineers use electronic equipment to improve or preserve what you hear on concerts, radio, and TV broadcasts or even archival audio recordings. Their work is essential to the television, film, radio, and music industries, as well as present in other arenas. Some of the most popular sub-fields in which sound engineers work are as follows:

Important Facts About Sound Engineers

Required Education Associate's degree or post-secondary non-degree award
On-the-Job Training Will continue to happen as new technology develops
Key Skills Oral communication, computer competency, manual adroitness, problem solving
Similar Occupations Computer support specialist, electrical and electronics engineering technician, electrical and electronics installer and repairer, film and video editor, camera operator

Concerts

If you've been to a concert or two, you've noticed the advantage big acts get in the form of professionally-orchestrated sound. Behind groupies, wild parties, and even the musicians themselves stands a person who makes sure that, with every concert, the band sounds like they've never been better. Sound engineers, who might also be called sound technicians, are responsible for maintaining a careful audio balance. By using highly-advanced electronic equipment, they equalize, control gain and compression, and add effects to all the parts of whatever they're monitoring. In concert or in a studio, sound engineers make sure you can hear the singer while still appreciating every nuance of the guitarist and the drummer.

Radio and Television

Beyond concerts and music, sound engineers also work in radio and television stations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), sound engineers are found adjusting and repairing electronic broadcasting equipment. They control the volume, sound quality, and fidelity of TV or radio broadcasts, and they log or monitor broadcast signals. Sound engineers who are familiar with computers and computer programming may also work in the video games industry.

Audio Reconstruction

Sound engineers are keenly aware of how electronics work and of the intricacies of their equipment. That's why the Library of Congress, (www.loc.gov) employs sound engineers to reconstruct old audio recordings, in some cases bringing to life artists whose work had previously been lost to the world. They also have to be creative, with an ear for sound that lets them know exactly what has to be done to bring out the absolute best in every audio situation.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the BLS, the median annual salary earned by sound engineering technicians was $49,870 in May 2014; the same year, broadcast technicians earned a median of $36,560. The employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is expected to grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024, per the BLS.

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