Recording Arts Career and Salary Facts
Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in recording arts. Read on to learn more about career options along with potential salaries and job outlook information.
What Options Exist in a Recording Arts Career?
A career in recording arts may mean working as a sound engineering technician, a broadcast technician, or an audio and video technician. Some of the common elements of these professionals involve working with audio equipment, and knowing how to set this equipment up, troubleshoot problems and make small repairs. They are all also involved in the maintenance of equipment. Their work involves recording audio content or audio and visual content. They may use computers and mixers to combine tracks. Common work venues for sound engineering and audio and visual technicians include arenas, concert venues, recording studios and movie and video production sets. Broadcast technicians focus on transmitting radio and television programs, and typically work for radio or television stations.
|Sound Engineering Technician||Broadcast Technician||Audio & Video Equipment Technician|
|Degree Required||Postsecondary certificate||Associate's degree||Postsecondary certificate|
|Training Required||On-the-job training||On-the-job training||On-the-job training|
|Key Responsibilities||Choose microphones, adjust mix levels, edit sound recordings||Mix sound effects, operate transmitters, maintain audio/video equipment||Add and sync sound to game scenarios, setup cables and mixing boards|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||2% growth*||1% growth*||12% growth*|
|Average Salary (2018)||$56,680 (for all sound engineering technicians in the sound recording industry)*||$46,770*||$48,940*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Recording Arts Programs
U.S. schools offer certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in the recording arts. Programs at each level aim to develop your competence with recording technology, your aural discernment and your aesthetic judgment, although certificate and associate's programs tend to place more emphasis on technology. Music is a primary focus of many programs, with video sound and broadcasting providing other areas of exploration. Courses might include basic electronics, analog and digital audio, recording techniques, multi-track recording, mixing and editing.
You could become a recording engineer or any of its subcategories and sub-subcategories. Possible alternative job titles include assistant engineer, mix engineer, sound designer, sound effects editor, mastering engineer, broadcast technician, audio and video equipment technician or music producer. Positions are available in the music, gaming, movie, TV and video production industries.
Jobs tend to be more available in urban areas, particularly cities with active music scenes such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville or Austin. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 144,300 broadcast and sound engineering technicians were employed in the U.S. in 2018. Employment in this category overall was projected to grow 8 percent from 2018-2028, according to the BLS. Audio and video equipment technicians will provide the most growth in the category, with a 12% increase. Broadcast technician jobs should increase by 1%, with sound engineering technician jobs increasing by 2% (www.bls.gov).
Your duties will vary depending on what phase of an audio production you're managing, what your specialty is and what industry you're working in. During an actual recording session you will choose and position microphones, run lines or set up wireless receivers, configure mixing boards and analog or digital recorders and keep logs of each performance or 'take.' In the music industry, you might edit and mix audio tracks after a recording session until you achieve a desired master mix. In the movie, video and video game industries, you might create effects from discreet snippets of audio, mix sound effects into a live ambient recording or associate sound effects with particular game events.
May 2018 figures from the BLS showed that sound and recording engineers working in the sound recording industry earned an average salary of $56,680. Those working as broadcast technicians earned a mean income of $46,770 per year, and audio and video equipment technicians earned an average wage of $48,940.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians design and develop electronic equipment. Like broadcast technicians, they need an associate's degree. The equipment they work on would include the equipment used by recording arts professionals, which means they need to know how to set it up and operate it and how this equipment would ideally function.
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers also perform some tasks that are similar to recording arts professionals. They install electronic equipment and they may perform repairs on electrical systems and cables when the equipment isn't working properly. They need postsecondary training, but do not necessarily need an associate's degree.
Film and video editors and camera operators also perform some similar tasks, but they are required to have a bachelor's degree.