Associate's degree programs teach fundamental music and studio theories. Bachelor's degree programs highlight music literature and audio mixing techniques, and they may include internship requirements.
Master's degree programs provide advanced education in recording and in audio production, and they may also include a research project, thesis or dissertation. Specialization options include acoustic and signal processing, digital sound production, and scoring for multimedia and game audio, among others.
Associate's Degree in Recording Technology
Degree programs that lead to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Recording Technology, Music Recording Technology or Recording Arts and Technology provide students with instruction in live concert and studio recording techniques. These 2-year programs teach essential recording concepts such as microphone placement, mix-down procedures and post-production techniques through hands-on training.
The associate's degree program curriculum consists mostly of music classes - including vocal or instrumental training and ensemble performance - with the addition of some general education classes in areas such as English, math and science. Courses to expect include:
- Music theory
- Foundational studio techniques
- Ear training and sight singing
- Introduction to the music business
- Speakers, microphones and amplifiers
- Fundamentals of digital audio
Bachelor's Degree in Recording Technology
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Music (B.M.) in Sound Recording Technology or Music Recording Technology degree programs instruct students in a variety of audio recording technologies and techniques, musical subjects and business-related issues. Though the programs share coursework, the B.S. focuses more on the math and science involving the technological aspects of equipment and the B.M. is more concerned with music performance and composition.
To apply, students must have a high school diploma or GED. They must also demonstrate proficient musicianship and be able to read music and understand basic music theory. They may be required to audition for entrance into the college's department of music.
Students complete 120-127 credit hours (about 4 years of full-time study) of music, sound recording technology, math and science classes and basic English courses. Courses found in this curriculum include:
- Aural skills
- Audio mixing techniques
- Acoustics of music
- Tonmeister engineering methods
- Critical listening skills
- Digital sound production, recording and editing
Master's Degree in Recording Technology
Master of Music and Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies, Sound Recording Technology and Music Technology degrees are available in 2-year degree programs that provide advanced instruction in audio production and recording. Some schools have technical or production concentrations, which focus on the research and artistic facets of the recording industry.
Applicants for the master's degree program are required to have first completed a bachelor's degree in sound recording technology or a similar field. Appropriate coursework in music, audio recording technology, math and science may be required. Candidates may need to demonstrate their knowledge by passing an entrance examination.
Master's students must fulfill performance requirements and write a master's thesis to summarize and demonstrate the acquired knowledge and skills into a unique research or creative project. Courses included in the curriculum may include:
- Digital signal theory
- Music psychology
- Composition of computer music
- Recording aesthetics
- Recording with multiple tracks
- Legal issues for creative persons
Associate's degree holders often work in recording studios, radio stations and performing arts venues. Though a formal college degree is not generally required, it is valuable in the competitive music industry. Specific job titles that graduates hold could include:
- Sound engineering technician
- Recording engineer
- Audio equipment technician
- Sound mixer
Earning an advanced degree in recording technology allows graduates to advance to executive, managerial, supervisory, or post-secondary education positions. Graduates seek employment in the highest levels of industries such as:
- Recording engineering research and development
- Recording technology instruction
- Audio-video post-production
Doctorate degrees in music technology are available for those looking to further expand their education and career possibilities. Also, professional sound engineering technicians often participate in continuing education programs that keep them abreast of current technologies and equipment.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 13,840 people employed as sound engineering technicians in May 2015. These sound engineering technicians were reported to have earned a mean yearly salary of $63,340 that year. The BLS also predicted an occupational growth of 7% for sound engineering technicians for the years 2014-2024.
Overall, associate's degree programs offer an introduction to recording technology alongside general education, while bachelor's degrees provide in-depth studies that allow students to focus their studies more heavily on music or technology. At the graduate level, studies become more advanced and allow for independent explorations in the field