Those who work as sound engineers operate equipment that records sound. A sound engineer synchronizes and mixes audio, and records music, speech and other sounds for movie, video, audio or live broadcast. Depending on the level of work, most employers prefer studio engineers that have a certificate or degree in sound engineering in addition to formal training.
Certificate programs in audio recording technology cover topics such as sound mixing and recording as well as audio technology and engineering. Programs may allow students to specialize in particular areas of interest. Graduates might pursue careers in audio programming or live sound production.
Students of two-year associate's degree programs may utilize recording software equipment and computerized audio applications. Slightly more advanced career outcomes may include audio equipment technician or recording engineer.
A four-year bachelor's degree program in sound technology incorporates electrical engineering and computer science. Students learn to operate and troubleshoot equipment such as speakers and microphones. Audio acoustics and digital electronics are studied.
A high school diploma or its equivalent is required at all levels. Placement exams or personal essays may also be required. Internship requirements may be included.
Certificate in Audio Recording Technology
Certificate programs in audio recording technology provide a basic introduction to sound recording equipment and electronics. Some programs may give students the opportunity to specialize in multimedia or music business as part of the audio recording certificate.
Students in a certificate program learn how to determine acoustic levels for live sound production and learn industry specifications for recording audio for television and video. A program may also offer students specialization in different recording software applications and programs that are used in the industry. Basic courses can also include:
- Audio recording techniques
- Introduction to audio technology
- Audio engineering
- Commercial recording techniques
- Audio production
Associate Degree in Sound Recording
Associate degree programs in sound recording, such as the Associate of Applied Science in Audio Recording or Associate of Science in Audio/Recording Technology, are designed for students already employed in the field or are looking to further their knowledge in audio equipment and recording process. Students learn how use recording software to mix and master audio material. Many programs offer hands-on training on sound recording equipment and may also offer internships in audio and sound recording facilities for students to gain experience.
The programs may also teach students the administrative side of the recording industry, such as the legal aspects of audio recording distribution. Associate degree programs in sound recording teach students audio and recording software equipment and how to arrange computerized audio applications. Students learn how to save, mix and master files and how to edit them into a final piece. Coursework at the associate level may also include:
- Audio recording production
- Digital audio recording
- Computer applications
- Audio post-production
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Bachelor's Degree in Sound Technology
A bachelor's degree programs in sound technology, including the Bachelor of Music in Sound Recording Technology and Bachelor of Arts in Sounds Recording Technology, provide students with more theoretical and practical skills in audio recording. Programs may offer students the opportunity for music training to prepare them for different aspects of the recording industry.
Courses in sound technology at the bachelor's degree level give students the opportunity to learn basic through advanced audio techniques. Students learn how to use and operate microphones and speakers to record sound, as well as how to operate mixing consoles and use digital software to record. Programs may also teach students how to troubleshoot audio equipment, including wiring and soldering equipment. Courses may also be offered in:
- Audio recording techniques
- Audio acoustics
- Recording industry
- Digital electronics
- Audio technology
Popular Career Options
Those with a certificate in audio recording usually pursue entry-level work in the field of sound engineering, which can be found in film and television production houses, post-production facilities and recording studios. Students may also continue their education and pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in sound recording after receiving a certificate. Other areas that may offer entry-level opportunities for those with a certificate in audio recording include:
- Audio programming
- Live sound production
- Audio equipment sales
- Sound software design
Students with an associate degree in sound recording may be able to find more advanced opportunities within film, television and post-production houses. Opportunities may also be found in live theaters and venues. Students may be able to find work as:
- Audio equipment technician
- Recording engineer
- Record producer
- Live sound engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for sound engineering technicians in May 2015 was $53,330 (www.bls.gov). Jobs for broadcast and sound engineering technicians are expected by the BLS to grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024.
Certificate and degree programs in sound recording provide an education in various topics like equipment operation, mixing and mastering, and troubleshooting. Some programs include specialization options and experiential learning opportunities, like internships.