Sound Designer: Education Requirements and Career Info

Sep 22, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a sound designer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and skills required to find out if this is the career for you.

The job of a sound designer is to create an assortment of sound effects for entertainment industries. Although professional sound design programs are offered, a non-degree award or certificate can suffice for this job.

Essential Information

Sound designers create sounds for film, television, theater, video games and music. Regardless of whether one plays a musical instrument, this field is well suited to a person with natural musical ability and an innate sensitivity to one's sound environment. A postsecondary non-degree award or certificate is generally required for sound engineering technician positions.

Required Education Postsecondary non-degree award or certificate typically required for sound engineering technicians
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 2% for all sound engineering technicians
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $52,390 for all sound engineering technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Sound Designers

Aspiring sound designers can develop the necessary skills and experience by earning a postsecondary non-degree award or certificate. However education options range from 1-year diploma programs to bachelor's and master's degrees in sound design. Art schools, film schools and universities offer programs in the industry. Good schools provide up-to-date training in well-equipped sound studios.

Students take courses in sound mixing, sound editing and recording techniques. They learn about Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), as well as how to use Pro Tools, Final Cut Pro and other industry-related software. Programs that focus on theatrical sound design may also require introductory classes in set, costume and lighting design.

Sound Designer Career Info

Sound designers are responsible for the overall sound for a production. They create sound effects and edit musical scores. In the post-production stage of a soundtrack, they may add or remove ambient noise. Video game sound effects can greatly enhance the realism and excitement of the medium.

Sound designers mainly work in a sound studio, either their own or that of a production company. In the studio, they may create sounds digitally, using computers and technical software, or naturally, using physical objects and props. Designers who create sounds naturally are sometimes called Foley artists.

High levels of creativity and skill are involved in determining how best to create a sound effect. After dissecting the required effect, they use real-world sounds to improvise each component. Some designers work in the field to record natural sounds to be used for a soundtrack. From these recordings, they compile a sound library to be used for future work. Designers also use sound libraries of recordings available from other sources, such as universities, or purchase them from third parties.

Sound design is a very specialized field that combines technical skill and creative ability. Because of the appeal of the entertainment industry, competition is high, especially in metropolitan areas, for relatively few positions.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sound engineering technicians were expected to see an two percent increase in employment from 2018-2028, which is categorized as average overall. As of May 2018, the BLS reported that sound engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $52,390.

In addition to a degree or certificate/award, a sound designer should have strong technical skills and high creativity. These tools will prepare them to work in a variety of industries, including video game design, music, TV, and movies.

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