Certificates in audio engineering can be earned entirely online, while bachelor's degrees usually are in a hybrid format with some required courses and studio work that must be taken on campus. Associate's degrees are also offered in audio engineering, with some online courses available. Students who enroll in online programs may be required to purchase and download special recording software used in the field.
Audio Engineering Certificate Programs
A certificate in audio engineering or audio technology can be the first step toward a career in the music, film and gaming industries. Students learn skills like home recording techniques, microphone placement, audio mixing and effects processing. While most online certificate programs do not have prerequisites, it's recommended that prospective students possess a general understanding of music. Similar certificates are available in areas like music technology and music production.
Program Information and Requirements
Audio technology certificates can be earned completely online, though some programs have on-campus learning components. In the online format, teachers sometimes instruct students and deliver feedback using streaming audio and video applications. A typical certificate program takes between six months and one year to complete.
A computer with an Internet connection is required. Many programs also require the purchase of professional recording software applications, such as Pro Tools.
List of Common Certificate-Level Audio Engineering Courses
There are no general education requirements for students enrolled in audio engineering certificate programs. In online programs, lessons are usually stored on a school's computer servers so that students may access course content as often as necessary.
Introductory Professional Audio
In this course, students learn the fundamental techniques of recording audio, including dynamic control and studio design. Studio hardware components like mixing desks and outboard processing units are also introduced. Professional software applications are discussed, as are techniques for using these applications in a home studio environment.
Concepts in Pro Tools
Students develop the ability to record and manipulate audio within Pro Tools, the industry-standard recording platform. Topics like workflow management, virtual mixing and waveform editing are discussed.
The use of software plug-ins in a professional recording studio is explored. Students learn how to utilize popular plug-ins like compression, reverb and delay. Creative plug-in concepts like side chaining are also discussed.
Audio Engineering Bachelor's Degree Programs
Though rarely available online, audio engineering bachelor's degree programs are designed for students interested in music, gaming and film industry careers. Students learn skills like songwriting, sequencing, music publishing and compositional arrangement. It is recommended that prospective students possess a strong background in music, either in recording, performance or composition. Online or semi-online associate's-level programs are also available and feature an extremely similar curriculum, though with fewer general education requirements.
Program Information and Requirements
Because many audio-related topics are studied in a hands-on setting, there are few programs available solely online. Some degree programs include both distance and campus-based study plans to give students access to studio facilities. A typical audio engineering bachelor's degree may be earned in four years. Professional audio software is often a requirement for these programs, though it may be included with a student's tuition.
List of Common Bachelor's-Level Audio Engineering Courses
Degree programs in audio engineering are more comprehensive than certificate programs, usually including coursework in topics like entertainment business and marketing. Students are also required to complete general education courses like English, algebra and basic computer science.
Introductory Music Business
Audio engineering students learn the business concepts behind the music industry, including distribution, royalties, publishing rights and recording budgets. Students also examine forces of change in the music industry like technology and live performance.
In this course, students use audio technology techniques to create music and sound effects for commercials, films and video games. Topics like mixing for television and mastering for multiple formats are also discussed.
Fundamentals of Songwriting
A songwriting course introduces students to the building blocks of music, like rhythm, harmony and melody. Audio engineers learn how to enhance a performer's song by applying technical knowledge like microphone polarization and instrument selection.
Digital and Analog Audio
Students examine the difference between digital and analog sound sources. Topics include signal flow, direct-to-tape technology, digital audio workstations and hardware sequencing.
Recipients of audio engineering and technology certificates can obtain entry-level positions with touring and promotion companies or in private recording studios. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in broadcast and sound engineering is likely to grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028 - faster than the national average for all employment sectors (www.bls.gov). Audio engineers made a median rate of $20.51 per hour in 2019, as reported by PayScale.com.
In 2019, music recording engineers made a median salary of $49,004 per year, depending on experience, as reported by PayScale.com. Audio engineering degree recipients generally obtain higher-paying positions than certificate program graduates. As reported by the BLS, growth in employment for audio and visual equipment technicians was expected to be 12% from 2018-2028, due largely to a high demand for maintaining old, complex equipment and setting up new, technologically advanced systems for different organizations (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Although licensing and certification is not required to work as an audio engineer, certification from a professional organization such as the Society of Broadcast Engineers may make a graduate more appealing to employers. Certification shows that the engineer is well-versed in industry standards and new developments in the field.
Audio engineering certificate programs are available completely online, while associate's and bachelor's degree programs in the field may be in a hybrid format. Students in these programs will prepare for careers as audio engineers or music recording engineers by studying topics including multimedia production, professional audio techniques and music business.