How to Become a Music Engineer: Step-by-Step Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a music engineer. Explore the education requirements, training and experience required for starting a career in the media and communication field. View article »

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  • 0:01 Music Engineers
  • 0:44 Career Skills & Info
  • 1:10 Step 1: Education
  • 1:31 Step 2: Training
  • 2:04 Step 3: Certification

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Video Transcript

Music Engineers

Music engineers, also known as audio engineers or recording engineers, are technical specialists who set up and operate equipment that records, mixes, edits and reproduces sound. Because they are highly experienced in ensuring quality for any recording medium, music engineers may work at television networks, recording studios, concert halls and related settings. Many employers prefer to hire music engineers who have completed a post-secondary program in music technology. Prior experience in the field usually isn't necessary to obtain an entry-level position. Music engineers typically face stiff competition for jobs, which can provide them with close proximity to music venues and new technologies. However, the hours can be long and include nights and weekends.

Career Skills & Info

Education Level Associate's degree or vocational certification
Degree Field Music technology
Certification Voluntary certification available from organizations such as the Society of Broadcast Engineers
Experience None for entry-level positions; necessary for certification and advancement
Key Skills Manual dexterity; communication, analytical, and computer skills; familiar with data, music and video editing software; use of equalizers, ohmmeters, and multimeters
Salary $63,340 (2015 average for sound engineering technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, McNally Smith College of Music, O*NET Online

Music engineers need good analytical and computer skills, especially those that involve the use of data, music and video editing software. They should also have the technical abilities necessary to work with equalizers, ohmmeters and multimeters. In May 2015, sound engineering technicians in general earned an average annual salary of $63,340. Let's take a look at some of the educational and training steps that can help you become a music engineer.

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Step 1: Education

Community colleges, music institutes and technical schools offer theoretical and hands-on programs that prepare music engineers for the field. These programs cover topics in audio technology, music production, recording techniques and visual media. Some programs may require students to complete recording and production projects.

Step 2: Training

Because technology rapidly changes, music engineers receive on-the-job training to become proficient with new equipment and systems. During their training, they may learn about following safety procedures, setting up cables and testing electrical equipment. New music engineers typically work with more experienced professionals to gain the training and techniques needed for progression in the field.

Success Tip:

Keep up with new technologies. Enroll in continuing education classes to stay knowledgeable of relevant computer advances that may increase productivity and project quality in digital music recording and editing.

Step 3: Certification

Certification is not required by most employers, but it may offer advantages for music engineers looking to advance in the field. The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers a variety of broadcast engineering certifications, including the Certified Audio Engineer credential. Candidates for this credential must have five years of experience in the field and pass a proficiency exam.

Success Tip:

Keep your certification current. To remain certified, music engineers must participate in the Maintenance of Certification Program by earning the required professional credits or by passing an exam.

Remember, music engineers usually need some kind of post-secondary training in music technology. As of May 2015, the average yearly salary for sound engineering technicians overall was $63,340.

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