Audio Engineer: Career and Salary Facts
Audio engineers help live performers sound their best by operating sound, mixing and recording equipment. Learn more about specialization options, career opportunities and education requirements in the audio engineering field.
What is an Audio Engineer?
Audio engineers set up, operate and monitor audio equipment to maintain quality and record speech, effects and/or music. They often use software to sync, edit and mix audio. They may use their work for video or theater productions. You can learn some additional details about this career in the table below:
|Degree Required||Associate's or Bachelor's|
|Education Field of Study||Audio production, audio engineering, sound engineering|
|Key Responsibilities||Operating recording equipment, mixing and remastering audio files, setting up equipment for live recording sessions|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||8% (for broadcast and sound engineering technicians)|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$43,660 (for all broadcast and sound engineering technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Where Do Audio Engineers Work?
Audio engineers often work in the music, television or film industries. As an audio engineer, you'll usually be responsible for operating the equipment used to record and mix sounds. You could choose to specialize in studio engineering; this specialization usually involves setting up microphones and controlling the mixing board within a professional music studio. Audio engineers who specialize in live sound often mix instrument and vocal levels for live performers in clubs and concert halls; audio post engineers mix and edit sound for television and movies.
What Education Will I Need for the Career?
You'll generally need to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in order to obtain a career as an audio engineer or audio engineering technician. Many community colleges and 4-year universities offer associate's and bachelor's degree programs in audio production, audio engineering and sound engineering. Through these programs, you'll learn about the recording hardware, software applications, effects processors and digital technology relevant to audio engineering. You might gain hands-on experience through an internship at a professional recording studio.
What Certification or Other Training Will I Need?
The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offers certification for audio engineering professionals working in the broadcasting industry. The certification is not mandatory, but can provide professionals with proof of competence in the field.
The Audio Engineering Society (AES) doesn't offer certification, but does provide membership benefits and continuing education opportunities. Once you're working as an audio engineer, you can attend AES conventions and enroll in workshop courses.
What Kinds of Jobs Are Available?
You might find entry-level employment as an audio engineering technician for a recording studio, theater group or film company. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), broadcast and sound engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $43,660 in 2018 (www.bls.gov).
You could also find work as an audio and video equipment technician who sets up recording gear, speakers and mixing boards for sporting events or conventions. In 2018, audio and video equipment technicians earned a median annual salary of $43,770, as reported by the BLS.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Related careers include electrical/electronics engineering technicians and electrical/electronics installers and repairers. Electrical/electronics engineering technicians design digital equipment like computers and navigational devices. An associate's degree is necessary for entry into the field. Electrical/electronics installers and repairers mount and fix equipment, and only need a postsecondary nondegree award.