What Is an Audio Specialist?

Research what it takes to become an audio specialist. Learn about the typical responsibilities, required education and training, as well as the employment outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Audio Specialist?

Audio specialists are experts at using audio equipment. They may be responsible for using this equipment to capture audio during a broadcast, such as a radio broadcast or television news broadcast. They may also be responsible for recording audio tracks that will be used in things such as television shows, movies or music recordings. They need to know how to set up audio equipment, and they may also need to identify issues when the equipment isn't working properly and perform minor repairs. They may use mixers and computers to combine tracks, enhance audio recordings, or mix sounds that have been recorded. As of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 22% of broadcast and sound engineering technicians worked in the radio and television broadcast industry, while 15% worked in the motion picture, video and sound recording industries.

Education Required High school diploma (minimum); certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree (recommended)
Education Field of Study Media arts, audio production, audio technology
Key Responsibilities Provide, record & create sound; set up sound systems; edit sound clips; perform equipment upgrades
Certification Voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%* (sound engineering technicians) / -6%* (broadcast technicians)
Median Salary (2015) $53,330* (sound engineering technicians) / $37,490* (broadcast technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of an Audio Specialist?

The job of an audio specialist is to provide, record and create sound. Employment may be available in many industries, including music, education and politics. Your job may involve setting up a sound system for a band or public speaker. You might record sounds in a studio or put together and edit sound clips. You could also be called on to upgrade a sound system for an auditorium.

Specific tasks you may handle include the following:

  • Equalizing prerecorded audio
  • Keeping records of work
  • Using recording equipment
  • Creating music pieces
  • Setting up and tearing down equipment
  • Monitoring equipment performance

What Education or Training Do I Need?

According to an O*Net OnLine poll, approximately one-third of sound engineering technicians had a high school education; a quarter had a certificate or diploma from a vocational program (www.onetonline.org). An associate's degree was the next most popular level of education. College programs you might consider include an associate's degree in media arts, audio production or audio technology. If you want to be more competitive when looking for a job, you may consider getting a bachelor's degree in an audio-related area. In audio programs, you may get hands-on experience working with sound equipment, learn sound production techniques and study music concepts.

If you want the opportunity to expand your career or secure a higher-paying job, you may consider getting certified through the Society of Broadcast Engineers, which offers the Certified Audio Engineer designation (www.sbe.org). To earn this certification, you need five years of experience in audio engineering or equivalent education; you'll also need to pass a proficiency exam.

What Is the Job Outlook for This Career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 117,200 jobs held by broadcasting and sound engineering technicians in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS expected job opportunities for broadcast and sound engineering technicians to grow 7% from 2014-2024. This growth percentage is considered to be average. Competition for jobs was expected to be high for television and motion pictures positions and in large metropolitan areas.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers are responsible for installing and repairing utilizes and a range of electronics equipment. They do not need postsecondary training, but learn on the job. Their work is similar to the work of audio specialists because they need to know how to install and maintain electrical equipment. Film and video editors and camera operators also have some similarities to audio specialists, because they may use computer software to arrange visual and audio files to produce a desired effect. Film and video editors and camera operators do need a bachelor's degree; while a bachelor's degree is recommended for audio specialists, it is not necessarily required.

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