Guitar Technician: Employment Info & Requirements

A guitar technician is a highly-trained professional who sets up and maintains all the guitars and guitar-related equipment for any live musical production. The guitar tech may be responsible for stringing, tuning, and adjusting all guitars and quickly resolving any problems that may arise with them or their components. Read on to learn more about this occupation.

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Career Definition for a Guitar Technician

Guitar technicians are broadly referred to as backline technicians for their roles played behind the scenes. They are also called roadies, though most find the term derogatory because guitar technicians are considered the most skilled member of a road crew and are integral to a production's success. Their primary role is to make the artist comfortable onstage through their pre-show sound check, paying attention to the artists' personal preferences, and ability to correct a problem during a show without disrupting the performance, according to industry website Roadie. Most are also responsible for packing up the guitar gear at the end of shows.

Education Previous musical experience, on the job training available
Job Skills Guitar playing, passion for live music, sound equipment skills
Median Salary (2015) $35,660 for musical instrument repairers and tuners
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% for musical instrument repairers and tuners

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Many backline guitar technicians are musicians themselves who have formal training at a music college in performance, guitar repair, sound engineering, music or lutherie - the art of crafting and repairing stringed instruments. This provides them a leg up on the traditional on-the-job only training and can help distinguish them from a highly competitive field.

Skills Required

Basic guitar-playing skills, a musical ear for tuning, knowledge of guitar repair, familiarity with sound equipment, and a passion for the experience of live music are crucial to success as a guitar technician, according to sound equipment manufacturer Shure. Aspiring technicians must hone these skills through practical experience, which can be obtained working with garage bands, theater groups, small venues, production companies, and even churches with active music programs.

Career and Economic Outlook

Salaries vary widely, depending on the profile and reach of the band and the technician's role in the show, skill level, and experience. Guitar technicians can make anywhere from minimum wage up to six figures. However, the excitement and adrenaline rush that live music provides makes it a highly coveted job. According to www.roadiejobs.com, competition is fierce and many skilled people must settle for an unpaid hobby as a guitar technician instead of a paying career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), musical instrument repairers and tuners, including those working on stringed instruments like guitars, earned an annual median salary of $35,660 in 2015 and could expect a 4% employment growth from 2014-2024.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these other options in the field of music careers:

Musician and Singer

Those interested in music might want to pursue careers playing instruments or singing live or in recording studios. Slower than average employment growth of 3% was predicted by the BLS for these entertainers, from 2014-2024. Formal music education such as bachelor's degrees can be found in colleges and music schools, although it's not necessary for all types of music. Jobs are often part-time and wages vary widely, with an hourly median salary of $24.20 reported in 2015 by the BLS.

Music Director and Composer

Educational requirements vary from none required for writing popular music to bachelor's or master's degrees for directors. Slower than average employment growth of 3% was expected for 2014-2024, and a median annual wage of $49,820 was reported by the BLS in 2015.

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