Sound engineering technicians set up and operate the audio equipment used in music, television broadcasts and other recordings. Technicians ensure that the sound and quality of audio production is good during a recording or live performance. Additionally, they make any necessary repairs when technical problems arise. Job opportunities include working in a post-production capacity, syncing dialogue, and converting recordings. Deadlines related to live events may cause stress, and technicians performing maintenance may need to climb towers and poles.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree, certificate or diploma beneficial|
|Degree Name||Audio production, sound engineering or similar field|
|Certification||The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers voluntary certification|
|Key Skills||Dexterity and strength to operate and carry equipment; problem-solving and communication skills; in-depth knowledge of audio equipment and recording software|
|Salary (2015)||$53,330 per year (Median salary)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CareerBuilder.com (November 2012 job postings)
Many sound engineering technicians enter the field through audio or sound training programs, which can last up to a year. These programs typically result in a diploma or certificate upon completion. Degree programs in audio production are available as well, and earning a college degree helps make a prospective sound engineering technician more competitive when seeking employment. A college degree may also be required for certification. Audio production programs combine lectures, workshops, and audio projects. Course topics include acoustics, recordings, digital signal processing, music production, mixing and editing.
Interning at a sound-recording studio or radio station prepares you for a career as a sound engineering technician. Working as an assistant is a strong preparatory experience. Interns often perform routine tasks under the supervision of an experienced sound engineering technician.
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Career opportunities may be available with production houses, arenas, or audio and visual departments. Responsibilities involve using microphones and computers to capture and record sounds, synchronize and equalize recorded sound, and mix and control the volume or tone of different musical performers. Additional job duties consist of keeping logs for all recording sessions, maintaining sound equipment, meeting with performers and producers, testing and setting up recording equipment, reporting equipment problems, and replicating sound recordings.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offers the Certified Audio Engineer (CEA) designation for qualified sound engineering technicians. Certification is optional, but it may offer opportunities for career advancement. Those who have at least five years of experience working in audio engineering qualify to take the certification exam. Time spent in formal education programs may count toward the experience requirement. The certification exam is a multiple-choice test and contains questions relating to operating practices, theory, safety, and problems. Certification is valid for a period of five years.
Recording technology continues to evolve, and continuing education is required to maintain the CEA designation. Certification holders must prove their participation in continuing education by either earning credits or passing an exam. Continuing education is also recommended for all sound engineering technicians to stay current with any new emerging sound technologies.
Once again, aspiring sound engineering technicians should complete some type of postsecondary program in audio production or sound engineering before earning an internship, obtaining an entry-level position, and getting voluntary certification.