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Music Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Music technicians require little formal education. Learn about the education options, job duties and certifications to see if this is the right career for you.

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Music technicians work with electronic equipment used in the recording and performance of music. They may be able to enter this career field after completing high school if they are trained on-the-job by an experienced technician or sound engineer. Most complete a postsecondary certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in music recording technology.

Essential Information

Music technicians install, operate and maintain a variety of electronic equipment used in audio production or broadcasting, including recording devices, speakers, dubbing equipment, amplifiers and sound mixing boards. Music technicians can work in music or audio recording, motion picture production, radio or television broadcasting and live presentations. Career specializations include sound engineering, synthesizer programming, sound mixing and broadcast recording. This job requires an associate's degree in a music technology related field, although some employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. Additionally, organizations such as the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) provide optional certifications.

Required Education Undergraduate certificate or degree in music recording technology
Certification Optional Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) certification available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% for all sound engineering technicians
Median Salary (2015)* $53,330 annually for all sound engineering technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Depending on their specialization, music technicians can be responsible for operating the control panels used to mix music tracks. They also might need to set up equipment for recording sessions and concerts. During live performances, technicians are responsible for the proper setup of all instruments, amplifiers, speakers, microphones, mixing boards, projectors and spotlights, including running cables for power and sound transmission.

Technicians who work on movie or video productions must often synchronize music with video and lighting applications or reproduce sound effects and music for motion pictures. They are also responsible for the maintenance of recording and mixing equipment to ensure that the technology is utilized for optimum performance. All types of music technicians are expected to keep up with constant advancements in technology and methodology to ensure quality recording or presentation.

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Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some music technicians are able to learn the trade by assisting an experienced technician or engineer in the industry after earning a high school diploma (www.bls.gov). This approach is less common, however, because technology has grown more complicated, and the competition for job openings is greater.

Most music technicians begin with specialized training. Technical schools, colleges and universities offer certificates, associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in music recording technology. A typical degree program can include courses in physics, electrical engineering, electronics and computer programming. Trade organizations such as the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offer certifications in various specializations, including radio operation, broadcasting technology and audio engineering. Certification requirements generally include gaining a specific amount of experience and training, along with passing an exam.

Typically, the larger the organization or employment market, the more on-the-job experience is required to secure a technician position. For example, a technician in the radio broadcasting industry might begin at a mid-sized station in a rural area or at a small station in a larger city.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS reports that sound engineering technicians can expect job growth of 8% from 2014-2024, which is slightly faster than the national average for all occupations. In 2015, according to the BLS, sound engineering technicians earned a median salary of $53,330.

Movie, television and radio studios all need a lot of sound equipment to amplify content for their productions. Music technicians are responsible for installing this equipment, operating and maintaining it. They usually have training through a college or technical school and can earn specialized certifications through experience and an examination.

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