Online Sound Engineering Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Sound engineering technicians are responsible for the quality of the sound in a radio or television broadcast, film, concert, theater production, sporting event or any other type of sound recording. They set up and operate equipment, such as mixing boards and microphones, to synchronize, record and reproduce a wide variety of audio, including music, voices and sound effects. Aspiring sound engineers can choose from many available online programs to prepare for this field.

How to Select an Online Sound Engineering School or College

There are several different fields that are closely related to sound engineering, including audio engineering and broadcast engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people who work in these jobs may be referred to sound, broadcast or audio engineers or technicians (www.bls.gov). Individuals who would like to work in this field can find online programs in sound engineering at community colleges, music schools and 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Degree levels
  • School services
  • Types of degree programs and accreditation
  • Program requirements
  • Certification

Degree Levels

The BLS noted that sound and broadcast engineers typically need some type of postsecondary education, either through a vocational program or an associate degree in a field such as electronics or broadcasting. However, since broadcast engineering jobs are highly competitive, a bachelor's degree may be required for some positions, according to the BLS.

School Services

When considering an online school or program, students may want to assess the services that are offered in addition to the courses. Some schools offer online tutoring, interactive chat rooms, virtual libraries and other Web-based resources. Students can begin some programs at any time and work at their own pace, while other online courses have scheduled starting dates and durations.

Types of Degree Programs and Accreditation

Students can prepare for careers as sound engineers through several different types of online programs. Some programs are connected with music schools and focus on music production. Other programs focus on the more technical aspects of sound engineering, including electronics theory and applications.

Online programs relevant to this profession include diplomas in broadcasting or basic electronics, certificates in music production, and associate degree programs in electronics or electronics engineering. Bachelor's degree programs in electronics engineering are also available online. Students interested in engineering or technology programs may want to look for programs that have been accredited by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (www.abet.org).

Program Requirements

Some distance learning sound engineering programs are offered entirely online, while other programs are hybrid. In hybrid programs, the majority of coursework is usually done online, but there may be some required elements, such as labs, that must be completed in person. Also, acceptance into some programs may require that a student submit academic transcripts and other documents to determine eligibility.

Most online programs require students to have computers with high speed Internet access and a current version of a browser. Students will also need an e-mail address to communicate with instructors or other students. Some distance learning programs offer the option of course materials on CD-ROM to allow students to work offline.

Certification

According to the BLS, certification may help broadcast engineers or technicians qualify for advancement in their careers. The Society for Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offers certifications at different levels for professionals in the field, including audio and broadcast engineers. The SBE also offers online courses related to broadcast engineering, including a course in audio processing (www.sbe.org).

List of Online Programs in Sound Engineering

Online Certificate in Music Production and Technology

This certificate program focuses on the technical aspects of producing music, especially how to use a personal computer to create a virtual studio and record, mix and arrange music. Students learn about subjects such as:

  • Sound and recording principles
  • Digitalization
  • Signal processing and flow
  • Sampling
  • Multi-tracking

Students also learn how to use the latest technologies and software tools, including a digital audio workstation computer platform program such as Pro Tools and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) sequencers, to create and record their own compositions.

Online Diploma in Broadcast Engineering

This program covers topics such as:

  • Basic circuitry
  • Digital broadcasting
  • Post-production techniques

The program is designed to prepare students for work as broadcast engineers or technicians at a radio or television station.

Online Associate of Applied Science in Electronics Engineering Technology

Students in this program study circuit theory and learn how to identify electronic components and work with electronic instruments. They also learn about:

  • Printed circuit boards
  • Relays
  • Microcontrollers

Students will also gain a working knowledge of digital systems, especially how to troubleshoot them. This program is designed to give students a basic understanding of electronics, and may give them the fundamental knowledge they will need to become engineering technicians in a variety of electronics-related fields, including audio, broadcast and sound engineering.

Online Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology

The study of advanced math and science, including physics, is a component of this program. Students will acquire competency in several areas of electrical technology and electronics, including:

  • Circuit analysis
  • Microprocessors
  • Digital electronics
  • Electronic systems

They will also to learn how to problem-solve, and implement systems or design concepts in their work.

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