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Career Definition for Digital Music Producers
Digital music production goes beyond the traditional audio engineering tasks of editing and mixing sound levels. You can use a DAW like Pro Tools to record or create sound effects through samples; manipulate any analog sounds from vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, and other instrumental elements; or use loops or sequencers to create DJ beats.
|Required Education||Certificate program, associate's degree|
|Job Skills||Singing or instrument proficiency, using recording technology, using DAW platforms|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$53,330 (sound engineering technicians)|
|Career Outlook (2014-2024)*||7% (broadcast and sound engineering technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Music recording schools in particular offer certificates in recording, audio, or sound engineering; this curriculum can last from two weeks to two years or four years, or even completed on a self-paced schedule, depending on the institution. Some schools certify in specific DAW platforms. An Associate of Science degree usually takes two years but is often offered in combination with other music disciplines or coursework. Certification classes focus on acoustics, electronics, and engineering; digital music production degree programs often teach how to apply that instruction in entertainment fields or one's own musical pursuits.
Any credible course will give instruction on using DAW platforms such as Apple Logic, Reason, Ableton Live, or Pro Tools, and recording consoles including those by Neve, SSL (Solid State Logic), or Digidesign. Though singing or playing a musical instrument is not required, it's a major plus.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2015, 13,840 people worked as sound engineering technicians. The BLS also projected that this occupation would have average job growth of 7% through 2024. According to the BLS, the median yearly salary earned by sound technicians was $53,330 in May 2015. Engineers who have worked with major artists (and likely have album credits as producers) can make tens of thousands of dollars per CD, plus royalties. Recording schools tend to be in major metropolitan areas, particularly in the recording industry capital of Los Angeles, CA.
Alternate Career Options
Audio and Video Equipment Technician
People who work as audio and video equipment technicians set up microphones, speakers, sound and mixing boards, recording equipment, projectors, screens, monitors, and related equipment like lighting systems for special events like news conferences, sporting events and presentations. The BLS reports that many audio and video equipment technicians work for themselves. A high school diploma is the minimum formal education requirement, although some post-secondary vocational training or associate's degree programs are available, too. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 12% from 2014-2024. The agency also reports that audio and video equipment technician jobs paid median wages of $41,440 in 2015.
Camera operators may work in a production studio, in the field, or on film sets. They record moving images with special cameras. They typically work with directors and editors on movies, TV shows, music videos, and live news. A bachelor's degree in broadcasting or a related field that includes coursework in camera operation may be required for employment in television, followed by on-the-job training. For camera operators who want to work in film, previous experience as a production assistant and then camera assistant to camera operators is a common path to employment. Jobs for camera operators are expected to increase 2% from 2014-2024, per the BLS; they earned median pay of $49,080 in 2015.