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Sound Engineer: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Sound engineers, often referred to as sound engineering technicians, work in music, film, television and radio, as well as during live performances. Read on to learn more about required education and skills, employment prospects and potential salaries for sound engineers.

Career Definition for Sound Engineers

Sound engineers are responsible for recording and mixing voices, as well as music and sound effects for movies, television, radio, plays and other live performances. Some sound engineers are employed on a full-time, permanent basis at television or radio stations and live performance venues, while others work on a freelance basis. Television and film sound engineers frequently work irregular and long hours to accommodate hectic shooting schedules and tight deadlines.

Education Vocational school, community college or 4-year college
Required Skills Electronically adept, working as part of a team, interpersonal skills
Mean Salary (2018)* $63,500 (sound engineering technician)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 6% (sound engineering technician)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most sound engineers have received training at vocational schools, community colleges or 4-year colleges and universities. Undergraduate majors for sound engineers include audio technology, broadcast technology or music production, according to the Audio Engineering Society (www.aes.org). Sound engineers often hone their skills in student and community productions before being hired as salaried or freelance sound engineering technicians.

Skills Required

Sound engineers must be electronically adept and able to fix equipment when it malfunctions during a performance or recording. Working as part of a production team, they should also have strong interpersonal skills and be able to take direction from directors, producers and other members of a recording or performance crew. A love of music and excellent listening skills are also important.

Career and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that sound engineering technician jobs would grow by 6% from 2016 to 2026, which is as fast as the average for other occupations. In May 2018, sound engineering technicians earned mean annual wages of $63,500, according to the BLS. The highest-paid sound engineering technicians worked in motion pictures and video. They earned an average salary of $80,320 in May 2018 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide technical assistance to both information technology (IT) and non-IT users who may be having issues with equipment, networks or software. Entry-level requirements include postsecondary courses and associate degree programs in a relevant training area; some positions may require a 4-year degree in computer, engineering or information science. Between 2016 and 2026, computer support specialists will see a faster-than-average 11% growth in jobs nationwide, as reported by the BLS. Computer user support specialists who were employed in May 2018 earned mean yearly salaries of $55,050, also according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians assist engineers in the planning and development of a variety of equipment and machines, such as computers or communications and medical devices. Educational requirements include completion of an associate degree program in electrical or electronics engineering technology. According to the BLS, technicians employed in the field earned mean annual wages of $65,050 in May 2018, with a 2% increase in employment nationwide expected from 2016 to 2026 (www.bls.gov).


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