What Is the Job Description of a Live Sound Technician?

Explore the career requirements for a live sound technician. Get the facts about training needed, salary potential and career outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Live Sound Technician Do?

Sound technicians are professionals who hook up, install and control audio equipment. Live sound technicians perform these duties at live events, such as concerts or sporting events. Sound technicians need to know how their equipment works, and may need to perform minor repairs or troubleshoot problems to prevent feedback or other technical issues with their equipment. They are responsible for maintaining their equipment. Prior to events they will perform checks to ensure that all equipment is working properly.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Music technology and production; sound engineering
Key Responsibilities Manage and operate audio equipment for concerts and other events; consult with clients on event needs; troubleshoot technical issues
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%* (for all sound engineering technicians)*
Average Annual Salary (2015) $63,340 (all broadcast and sound engineering technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Live Sound Technician?

As a live sound technician or engineer, you're responsible for installing and operating the sound and audio equipment for live concerts, speeches, plays, sporting games and other events. Your job includes managing the speakers, cables, mixing machines and other types of equipment used to capture and broadcast sound during a live event.

When you work as a sound technician for live events, some of your specific duties might include setting up sound equipment before the event, tearing down equipment after the event, synchronizing pre-recorded sound effects with live sound and working with performers and managers to achieve strong sound levels. You might be responsible for managing microphones, audio filters, audio mixer consoles, equalizers and reverb devices during a live performance or function.

What Educational or Training Programs Are Available?

If you're interested in becoming a live sound technician, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends you obtain some type of formal postsecondary education or training in the field, stating that many applicants earn an associate's or bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov). Several community colleges and trade schools offer vocational or technical certificate programs in live sound production and audio engineering. Courses in a certificate program focus on audio engineering and live sound production. You'll learn the practical skills involved in live recording, live sound mixing, sound reinforcement, console operation and stage management.

If you choose to earn an undergraduate degree, applicable programs include digital music production, sound engineering and music technology. Most degree programs include opportunities to gain practical experience working with drama and music department productions and internships with professional companies and organizations. You'll usually need to complete some general education in a degree program.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

The BLS reported that sound engineering technicians held more than 13,800 jobs in 2015 and made a mean annual salary of $63,340. They were primarily employed by the film, recording and broadcasting industries. Those providing live sound support in the performing arts earned lower than the national average, taking home approximately $53,660 per year, according to the BLS.

What Is the Job Outlook for the Career?

The BLS stated that the employment of sound engineering technicians, including both recording and live specialists, was expected to increase by about 8 percent between 2014 and 2024. Growth and advancement in technology and equipment was anticipated to provide better sound and video quality; however, these improvements forecasted greater productivity from individuals, which would limit the need for new workers. The BLS did project those with expertise in both audio and video recording and production should see a little more growth, estimating demand to increase 12% for those with more versatility in the field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians and electrical and electronics installers and repairers have some similarities between their work. The work they do is also similar to the work that live sound technicians do. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians develop electrical equipment, including the audio equipment that's used by sound technicians. They need to understand how the equipment is set up and how it functions in order to help improve the design of the equipment. While sound technicians may perform some adjustments to eliminate or reduce problems with the equipment, electrical and electronics engineering technicians look for ways to permanently alter the design or to redesign the equipment to eliminate technical issues and improve performance. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install electrical equipment and repair this equipment. Like sound technicians, they need to be familiar with electronic systems and how to repair them. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians and electrical and electronics installers and repairers need an associate's degree, which is the minimum level of postsecondary education recommended for sound technicians.

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