Become a Recording Technician: Career Guide

Learn how to become a recording technician. Explore the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in the recording technology field. View article »

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  • 0:00 Recording Technicians
  • 0:39 Career Skills & Salary
  • 1:25 Step 1: High School Classes
  • 1:52 Step 2: College Degree
  • 3:11 Step 3: Certification
  • 3:56 Step 4: Entry-Level Experience

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Video Transcript

Recording Technician

Recording technicians set up and maintain the equipment used in the film, music, and television industries. They use amps, cables, microphones, mixers and other equipment in broadcast or sound recording studios or live events. Depending on the event, recording technicians may have to lift heavy equipment or climb high poles; night and weekend shifts are common. Competition for jobs can be strong, as many individuals are drawn to working in the music and entertainment industry.

Career Skills and Salary

Degree Level Associate or bachelor's degree
Degree Fields Broadcast technology, electronics, audio recording technology
Certification Voluntary but preferred
Experience Experience using common broadcasting equipment; can be gained via college coursework
Key Skills Good communication and problem-solving skills; familiarity with audio and video editing software; ability to use and repair equipment
Salary $41,780 (2015 median annual salary for all audio and video equipment technicians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Recording technicians should know how to communicate well with others and solve problems. Understanding how to use and repair equipment is important in this field. Technicians must also be familiar with the computer software used to edit sound and video settings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects jobs for broadcast and sound engineering technicians in general to increase by 7%, or fast as average, from 2014 to 2024. The median annual salary for a broadcast technician as of May 2015 was $41,780.

Step 1: High School Classes

Future recording technicians should focus on courses in math and physics while still in high school. Students might also opt to take electives in electronics or computer technology.

Participate in an Audio-Visual Club

These clubs can provide an introduction to using basic broadcast equipment while working with a team to produce short broadcasts and meet deadlines.

Step 2: College Degree

Recording technicians can acquire skills through technical training programs or even on the job. They can also enroll in associate's or bachelor's degree programs in audio recording or broadcast technology, electrical engineering, or the recording arts, among other related areas. For example, recording technicians can earn an associate's degree in broadcast production technology. These two-year programs, available at many community colleges and technical schools, provide students with experience in television, radio, and video production.

Earning a 4-year degree could improve a recording technician's chances for employment and advancement, especially in a competitive industry. For instance, students might enroll in an bachelor's degree program in broadcasting, which mixes communications and journalism studies with information on the latest technology used in mass media, including film and news.

Gain Experience in College

While in college, aspiring recording technicians may gain useful experience working for their school's radio or television stations. This may give them a competitive advantage when applying for jobs as well.

Step 3: Certification

Certification can help those in the industry advance their careers. The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers different types of certification to workers in the broadcast industry, such as Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer and Certified Broadcast Television Engineer credentials.

Recording technicians can earn the Certified Broadcast Technologist or Certified Audio or Visual Engineer credential. Qualifications differ for each type of certification but generally require several years of experience or suitable education as well as passing a qualifying examination. Certified broadcast engineers must re-certify every five years.

Step 4: Entry-Level Experience

Many entry-level recording technicians begin their careers as assistants to more experienced colleagues. They might find jobs in smaller media markets or outlets in large markets. Experienced technicians often don't advance in title but instead move on to bigger markets or regional and national networks and companies. After developing their technical skills, recording technicians may become supervising technicians or attain the title of chief engineer.

Let's review what we've just discussed. Aspiring recording technicians can take computer, math, and physics courses in high school and then earn an associate's or a bachelor's degree in audio recording or broadcast technology or a related field and a professional certification from the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Broadcast and sound engineering technicians overall earned a median annual salary of $41,780 as of May 2015.

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