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Be a Recording Engineer: How to Choose a College or Degree Program

Aspiring recording engineers can find programs in fields like broadcast technology and recording arts offered at the certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree levels. These types of programs are available at community colleges, universities and private arts colleges through their recording industry and recording arts departments.

In a sound engineering or recording technology program, students learn to use sophisticated equipment to mix, record, reproduce and synchronize music, sound effects and voices. Students looking into these programs should weigh several factors before making an educational decision.

10 Colleges with Recording Engineer Programs

These colleges and universities offer recording engineer programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
Berklee College of Music Boston, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $40,082; Graduate $43,345
Full Sail University Winter Park, FL 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's Undergraduate $23,117
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's Undergraduate $42,795
Expression College for Digital Arts Emeryville, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor Undergraduate $23,747
SAE Institute Nashville, TN 2-year, Private Certificate, Associate's Undergraduate $18,731
University of Hartford West Hartford, CT 4-year, Private Bachelor's Undergraduate $36,460
Columbia College - Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's Undergraduate $24,344
LaGuardia Community College Long Island City, NY 2-year, Public Associate's Undergraduate: In-state $5,218; Out-of-state $8,098
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's Undergraduate $48,710; Graduate $48,710
Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's Undergraduate: In-state $10,388; Out-of-state $33,741

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Students should consider several things before choosing a recording engineer school:

  • Schools that provide training for aspiring recording engineers offer different program options, including career certificates and associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees.
  • It's important to select a school that has enough well-maintained studios to meet student demand, as well as equipment that is state of the art.
  • Students who want access to one-on-one time with instructors or desire a small classroom environment are advised to look for schools with low student-teacher ratios and frequent opportunities for close work with faculty.
  • Hands-on experience in radio, television and movie studios, professional and community theaters, and sports arenas is necessary to develop skills in the recording industry, so students should look for schools that offer these kinds of experiential opportunities.

Certificates

Completing a career certificate program for recording engineers usually requires a year or less. Admissions expectations vary by institution but usually include a high school diploma or GED. There also may be a reading and writing proficiency requirement.

Associate's Degrees

An associate's degree program for aspiring recording engineers starts with a foundation of general education courses, as well as core training in elements of recording engineering. Associate's degree programs often require a 2-year commitment. Admission requirements are similar to those for a career certificate program.

Bachelor's Degrees

Recording engineer programs at the bachelor's level have a broader foundation in general education, including additional math and communications classes. They also usually have core training in audio and recording technology. Bachelor's degree candidates also might be required to complete an internship.

Master's Degrees

Admission to master's degree programs in recording arts generally requires completion of a bachelor's degree with a major, minor or some related coursework in recording arts and technology. Prospective students also may be asked to submit a portfolio, which should demonstrate competency in areas like acoustics, music theory, audio engineering and production. Master's degree programs typically take 2-3 years to complete. Graduate students generally are required to complete a final project and may be asked to record studio sessions and live concerts for their college or university's music performance students.

Students interested in a career as a recording engineer can pursue studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some key considerations when choosing a school include well-equipped recording studios, modern sound equipment and the availability of internship opportunities.


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