Audio Engineering Careers

ENTRY LEVEL EDUCATION

Masters Degrees in Electronics Engineering

CAREER TRAINING

Online Certificates in Engineering

NUMBER OF JOBS

116,900

JOB OPENINGS

11,600

JOB GROWTH

10%

AVG. SALARY

$39,870 /yr

$19.17 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

Audio engineers record, mix, and reproduce sound for television, broadcast, music, performance, radio, and more. Audio engineers traditionally depended on expertise in electronics, acoustics, and psychoacoustics to get the job done; increasingly, the job demands a sold understanding of digital recording tools and software as well.

Audio engineers might work with concert halls, clubs, movie studios, recording studios, television broadcast stations, offices, and other organizations on either a full-time or freelance basis. Their job includes the setup, maintenance, and repair of sound equipment; they usually perform the set-up and tear-down of sound equipment after a show.

Audio Engineering Job Description

There are many different specializations within this area of employment. Audio engineers at smaller studios may perform many or all of the functions listed below, while those working at larger companies might specialize. They include:

Audio and video technicians. Often self-employed, these technicians typically are responsible for the setup and operation of audio and video equipment. Their job is usually considered practical rather than creative in nature; it involves connecting wires and cables to set up sound and mixing boards, microphones, speakers, video monitors, recording equipment, and more. In some cases, they may also be responsible for lighting. Audio and video technicians must have a sound understanding of acoustical principles in order to place microphones and other sound equipment correctly. These professionals can find work at many of the popular music festivals held around the US throughout the year. Some of these include Coachella, ACL, South by Southwest, Ultra and Nocturnal Music Festivals and many many more.

Broadcast technicians. These technicians oversee the sound and equipment for television stations, and often work on a full-time basis. They are responsible for ensuring the proper signal strength and clarity of the broadcast, operate transmitters, and edit video and audio recordings.

Sound engineering technicians. While there are plenty of practical and technical elements to this job, it tends to be more artistic in nature as well. Sound engineering technicians record, mix, and synchronize sound at recording studios, theaters, movie studios, conference halls, and more to produce a certain effect. There may be some overlap with broadcast technicians for those working in a television environment.

Music producer. Some audio engineers go on to careers as solo music producers in a variety of music types such as electronica, dubstep, trance, drum & bass, house, and hip hop music. In the last couple years a rise in popularity for electronic music has given way to a popular sub-culture of music fans who seek out new and creative sounds to entertain them. While difficult to be successful, some people who are uniquely talented at trying out funky experimential bass drops, sampling, club beats, and electronic sounds can build up quite a fan base. Notable successful examples of these producers include Skrillex, Bassnectar, and Avicii.

Training Required to Become an Audio Engineer

The industry typically puts more emphasis on experience than formal training. This is particularly true of freelancers, who often land jobs based on experience and connections.

Most entry-level positions require at least a high school or GED diploma. However, some audio engineers have Associate’s degrees in an area relevant to sound engineering. The field can be perceived as glamorous, making it highly competitive, especially in the television broadcast industry—which means that having an Associate’s or even a Bachelor’s can help strengthen your position in the marketplace when going for salaried jobs. Helpful degree subjects include computer networking, electronics, or broadcast technology.

Most Associate degree programs are vocational programs not intended to transfer to a Bachelor’s. On-the-job training is common and ongoing education is crucial for people in this industry to keep informed on the latest technological advances.

Certification isn’t required by the industry, but it’s helpful in demonstrating your commitment and level of expertise to employers. The Society of Broadcast Engineers and InfoComm International are both well regarded by the industry, and offer a variety of certifications for different professional concentrations.

Audio Engineering and Online Degrees

This field is fairly open to degrees from accredited online degree programs, and accustomed to online education in general—as many certification programs offer training and coursework online. An online degree shouldn’t hold you back, especially since you will frequently be competing with applicants who do not hold an advanced degree at all

Projected Growth of Audio Engineering Jobs

Jobs in this area are projected to grow 10-13% in the coming decade according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This is about average compared with expectations for jobs nationwide.

One factor expected to drive growth includes the increased incorporation of technologies into the classroom. Schools and universities feel pressure to enhance their audio and video technologies and abilities in order to present a modern image and attract quality students.

Audio Engineer Salary

The median annual wage for this profession was around $39,870 as of 2010. Typically, sound engineering technicians earn the most—as much as $47,080 on average—while broadcast technicians earn the least, at around $35,120. Those working in urban areas usually earn more.

Pros and Cons of Audio Engineering as a Career

In general, this is a high-glamour field. People in audio engineering frequently work in popular clubs, television and radio studios, and in the musical, filmmaking, and performing arts. In addition, the education requirement is low. Both of those factors combine to make this a field that a lot of people want to break into. It can be difficult to break in—and once you do, the pay is not high for entry-level or even mid-level professionals.

In addition, this can be a demanding job. Television and radio studios broadcast 24 hours a day, and audio engineers are frequently required to work outside normal business hours and during holidays and weekends. Overtime is not unusual, especially with a big event or broadcast deadline coming up.

However, for those with a passion for it, this can be a fun and exciting job with plenty of side benefits—including getting to meet and work with celebrities. For some, the trade-offs are worth it.

Where to Look for Audio Engineering Jobs

Society of Broadcast Engineers

SimplyHired.com

Indeed.com