Professional audio engineers maintain and operate broadcast and sound recording equipment in many applications. They may work with movie directors, musical artists, radio stations, or television news stations. Their goal is to ensure that any broadcast or recording is of high quality, producing crystal-clear sound.
This is job is highly technical. In order to become an established audio engineer, one should have excellent computer skills combined with a working knowledge of handling electronic equipment. Audio engineers must coordinate with editors, performers, directors and technicians in order to produce professional-quality audio.
Their job also requires them to travel to different destinations in order to handle sound engineering tasks on-site. Adaptability and flexibility are key qualities required in this profession. This is because they have to work with spoken dialogue, music and other forms of sound output.
How to become an audio engineer
Some form of certification or vocation training is required for one to become an audio engineer. This can be obtained from a community college, a high school diploma, certificate programs, or university courses. Passion, computer proficiency, and technical skills are required for one to become a successful sound engineer and be able to handle different broadcasts and audio recordings.
Majority of audio engineers can land an entry-level job with just a certificate or associate’s degree. Some jobs are also available for holders of high school diploma couple with relevant experience.
Continuous on-job training is also needed for this career since there is constant development and release of new technology. Audio engineers are also required to have training in electrical safety, since they are continuously exposed to electrical and electronic systems.
Time management skills are a necessity for those looking to succeed in this career. According to Bent, a musical producer who has worked on many successful albums, technology is just there to aid the art. Time is critical when it comes to beating launch deadlines, while still making sure that quality is maintained.
Requirements needed for training
To obtain an associate’s degree in audio engineering, one is required to attend classes for a period of 1-2 years if it is a community college. There are also specialized degree programmes offered by some colleges that take significantly less time. However, the minimum time is 1-2 years. Certain non-degree programs can be done to completion within a period of 6 months to a year.
Advancement in the Audio Engineering Field
Aspiring audio engineers normally start at the entry level and then proceed to become assistant engineers. As they grow into the career, they can then become fully-fledged sound engineers. This can take up to three years experience including on-job training. They can gain advancement from working at a busy studio, individual clients or managing their own recording studio.
Education and Training
Audio engineering requires mechanical knowledge, manual skills and highly technical knowledge. A deep understanding of physics, maths, and electronics is required, which can be acquired through an associate’s degree or high school education.
For the certificate programs, a large amount of training with audio recording equipment is required such as mixing consoles, microphones, or computer software. Courses covered include electrical engineering, sound editing, production management, and handling audio equipment.
Certification is not a requirement for one to become an audio engineer. However, it might prove important when searching for a job. Certification courses can be obtained from educational institutions or from societies of broadcast engineers.
Licensing is not required for one to work as an audio engineer. However, safety certification courses may be administered during training or when working, just to make sure that the institutions comply with state safety laws.
Audio Engineer Salary – How much do sound engineers make
The important question to ask if you are interested in a career as an audio engineer is how much CAN you earn as an audio engineer earn as opposed to how much WILL you more likely earn. An audio engineer salary is determined by many factors but mostly experience.
If you hope to have a successful career in the audio engineering industry you really need to have a plan and know where you want to end up, not just start. If you dream of one day owning your own studio and choosing the projects you work on, it will only be possible through experience, a lot of hard work and more than likely some luck. For many this dream is little more than just that…a dream, that or the dream may appear very differently in reality and result in far less money and much longer hours than anticipated.
Audio Engineer Salary
You will start out (typically) earning very little. What you will be earning is experience, good experience from a respected audio engineer if you’re lucky. Most will start out in an intern role which means you may earn nothing at all. If you are lucky however you may earn up to $10.82 per hour as a starter. Top end audio engineers enjoy a handsome salary of 56$ per hour.
You might be confused when you punch in the term ‘audio engineer’ into a salary comparison site. For instance at the time of writing indeed.com list the average audio engineer’s salary at just under 90k per year. The truth is this is an average and not a median which would be more applicable. The average is pulled up due to the very few who are paid extremely well. It you put the numbers into a graph you would see a steep decline initially and then a very long tail representing those who are paid far less.
You are going to need passion for the type of work you will be doing.
Audio Engineer Jobs – Employment Opportunities
As mentioned many people get into audio engineering because of a passion for music, which can ultimately blind you to opportunities to apply your talents in other industries. Music and sound play a huge role in all forms of media. There are parallel opportunities in other industries, industries that are growing not reducing like the music industry which is rumored to be losing 20% revenue per year. Consider other industries to ply your trade such as:
- The gaming industry This industry is growing rapidly and audio becoming more of a consideration as the technology and memory capacity of the average game console improves.
- Advertising Industry An industry with many potentially different roles available. You may work producing audio and effects for TV and Radio or assisting with professional voice over work.
- Radio, television and film industry – Many potential directions to take in audio.
It’s important to remember that you will need to do some pretty hard yards in terms of remuneration if you are considering a career in audio engineering. An audio engineer salary is minimal when first starting out and the only way to increase your opportunities will be to pay your dues, do your time (by earning very little), getting your foot in the door and gaining experience.
Jobs for audio engineers are expected to rise by 9% within the next ten years. This means that 10,000 new jobs on average are to be created. There will be new sound engineering jobs as radio and television stations, musical venues, and recording studios adopt the latest technology and replace outdated technology. With new technology, specialized skills will be required to handle these equipment, and these means more openings for audio engineers