How to Become an Audio Engineer in 5 Steps
Explore the career requirements for audio engineers. Get the facts about the education requirements, employment outlook and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Is an Audio Engineer?
Audio engineers are also known as sound technicians. They may work for radio or television broadcasts, film or video recording companies, or in the field of entertainment. They set up audio equipment, such as microphones and speakers. Audio engineers are responsible for ensuring all equipment is working properly prior to a broadcast or event. They monitor the equipment during the broadcast or event to ensure that there is no feedback and that the sound levels are ideal. Audio engineers may also be responsible for performing repairs as needed when there is a problem with the sound equipment.
|Degree Required||Associate's degree (minimum) and an internship or apprenticeship|
|Education Field of Study||Audio engineering or production|
|Key Responsibilities||Monitor and adjust sound for quality performance, maintain sound equipment, utilize audio software programs|
|Certification||Voluntary certification available from the Society of Broadcast Engineers|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||2% (sound engineering technicians)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$52,390 (sound engineering technicians)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Research Audio Engineering Duties and Education
Audio engineers, also known as sound engineers, are responsible for producing quality sound at live performances, in recording studios and through other mediums such as radio and podcasts. As an audio engineer one of your main duties might be balancing the sound of all audio equipment plugged in during a performance, such as microphones, amplifiers, speakers and PA systems. As an audio engineer, you must be technically capable with both analog and digital equipment and must work with an extreme level of precision. To become a professional, you'll usually first need to attain an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field.
Step 2: Prepare For an Audio Engineering Education in High School
According to College Board, if you want to pursue a career in audio engineering you should take courses in electronics, computers and physics while in high school (www.collegeboard.org). You might also consider gaining experience with your school's music or theater department. You can work behind the scenes on sound, video or lighting.
Step 3: Earn an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree
As an aspiring audio engineer, you should enroll in an associate's or bachelor's degree program in audio engineering or production. A few subjects that you can expect to learn about include connecting cables, operating a mixing board, mixing music and sound effects, placing microphones, troubleshooting sound problems and mastering techniques. Because so much sound design is created digitally using computers, you'll also need to master various audio software programs such as Pro Tools and Logic.
Step 4: Complete an Internship
As a future audio engineer, you can learn more about audio engineering concepts while working for free at a recording studio, music venue or a radio station. The Audio Engineering Society suggests that students complete an internship or apprenticeship to gain hands-on experience, which will make them more marketable to potential employers (www.aes.org). This can sometimes be accomplished through placement programs at various colleges, universities and technical schools you may end up attending for your degree.
Step 5: Find a Job as an Audio Engineer
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as an audio engineer you should be able to find jobs at various places such as recording studios, sporting venues, theaters, movie sets and music video shoots (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that between May 2018 and May 2028, the number of jobs available in the field for sound engineering technicians is predicted to increase by two percent. When it comes time to seek employment, try looking through the job listings or utilizing the networking functions of organizations such as the Audio Engineering Society and the Society of Professional Audio Recording Services.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Film and video editors and camera operators are also involved in using equipment to record or broadcast events or information. They work with visual and audio equipment, and are required to have a bachelor's degree. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers do not need a degree. They perform repairs on electronic equipment. This is similar to the role of an audio engineer, because audio engineers may have to repair the equipment they use. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians need an associate's degree, and they help design electronic equipment that may be used by audio engineers.