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Sound Recording Degree Programs

Earning a certificate or degree in sound recording technology could help you find work as a sound engineering technician or recording engineer. Learn about course topics and degree levels.

What Programs Are Available in Sound Recording?

Certificate, associate degree and bachelor's degree programs are available in sound or audio recording technology. Master's degree programs are offered but they are rare. Many programs require completion of a live audition that tests your skill on an instrument of your choosing, like piano or guitar. Some programs will expect you to take a placement exam that tests your knowledge of music theory.

Most schools have in-house recording facilities where you'll gain hands-on experience in sound recording. Because hands-on training is an important part of any sound recording curriculum, online programs available through accredited schools are rare.

Degree LevelsCertificate, associate's, and bachelor's degrees are common; master's level degrees are rare.
Course TopicsOverdubbing, signal processing, advanced music theory, music theory, studio equipment repair
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $52,390 (for Sound Engineering Technicians)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 8% (for Sound Engineering Technicians)

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Study?

In a certificate program, you'll learn how to use audio recording equipment, like mixers and microphones. You'll practice recording techniques like overdubbing, sound reinforcement and signal processing. Some programs require completion of an internship at a professional recording studio. Continuing education credits may be offered through some certificate programs; others award standard academic credits.

Associate degree programs in sound recording include courses like advanced music theory, music history, instrumentation and multi-track production. Most associate programs require completion of some general education classes, like English or mathematics. You may be required to join a performing jazz, wind or vocal ensemble group. Associate programs are often designed for students interested in transferring associate-level credits into a bachelor's degree program.

Many of the same topics in an associate degree program are covered in a bachelor's program, including music theory and audio production. You might take additional courses in studio equipment repair, ear training and sound acoustics. Some schools will expect you to take music lessons throughout the program on an instrument of your choice. Participation in a performing ensemble is usually required, as is completion of an internship at a professional recording studio.

Master's degree programs may include performing ensemble requirements as well. Many master's programs feature a curriculum focused on advanced science and technology topics in sound recording; you might take classes in psychoacoustics, audio science and audio electronic design. You may be expected to complete a major recording project in order to graduate.

What Careers Can I Consider?

With a certificate or degree in sound recording technology, you might find work as an entry-level sound engineering technician or recording engineer with a radio station, post-production company or recording studio. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sound technicians and engineers record and mix music as well as sound effects (www.bls.gov). Some technicians and engineers may also be responsible for repairing and maintaining sound recording equipment.

Sound engineering technicians made an average salary of $63,500 in 2018, as reported by the BLS. States that had the highest number of employed sound technicians during this time included New York, Florida, California, Georgia and Texas.