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Audio Engineering Job Outlook and Employment Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an audio engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Postsecondary education requirements for broadcast and sound engineering technicians vary from completion of a vocational certificate to obtaining an associate's degree in communications engineering or a four-year bachelor's degree in audio engineering. This field is maintaining steady job growth, offering opportunities to new graduates who choose to pursue this career path.

Essential Information

Audio engineering professionals oversee and utilize equipment that transmits and reproduces sound. Critical-thinking skills are a must for students to thrive in this industry. Some duties as one of these professionals include monitoring audio, syncing sound with video and mixing sounds to get them to be at an optimal level. To be a radio operator, students just need a high school diploma and several hours of training. Though a high school diploma and on-the-job training was enough in the past, most positions today require some minimal postsecondary education. For more advanced positions, students may need to get their associate. Working at a radio station or school radio program is a great way for students to learn more about the audio industry.

Career Title Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician
Education Requirements Postsecondary non-degree award/certificate usually required
Job Growth (2014-24)* 7%
Median Salary (2015)* $41,780 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Audio Engineering Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators was expected to increase by 7% over the period from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This is about as fast as the average of all occupations nationally. In 2015, the BLS reported that sound engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $41,780. Competition for jobs was found to be highest in large metropolitan areas throughout California and New York. Pay is usually higher in these areas, but supply exceeds demand. Audio engineers should have a better likelihood of getting hired in smaller, less lucrative markets.

Education and Training

Another consequence of the competitiveness in the profession is that employers have begun to demand an increased amount of formal training from their potential employees. A high school diploma and a few months of on-the-job training may be sufficient to be hired as a radio operator. However, depending on the employer, a vocational certificate, associate's degree in communications engineering or bachelor's degree in audio engineering are now standard prerequisites for more advanced positions.

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Employment Options

Audio engineers can find employment opportunities under a variety of work titles, such as recording engineer, sound engineer, mixing engineer, audio operator, dubbing room engineer, broadcast technician, broadcast engineer or mastering engineer. Further potential job titles include live sound technician, production assistant, sound editor, acoustic consultant, control operator or Foley engineer (who creates sound effects).

While employment as an audio engineer at larger television or radio stations or at one of the networks tends to be specialized, it is almost impossible to get hired at such a venue without prior experience. At smaller stations, audio engineers may find themselves having to perform many duties, such as those of engineer, operator and technician. Setting up and operating equipment, monitoring and adjusting the signals, operating transmitters and servicing equipment can provide the experience necessary to secure more lucrative employment.

Career Enhancements

While pursuing a college degree, working at the school television or radio station is an excellent way to gain practical experience. In turn, this experience serves to impress potential employers with the student's sincerity and interest in the profession.

Employment options increase dramatically with the amount of industry-related training an individual receives. In order to ensure this, individuals should see to it that their training includes certification in the use of up-to-date, industry-standard software and equipment, as well as the use of computers in analog and digital recording.

Membership in the Audio Engineering Society (AES), a professional organization, displays seriousness about the profession The AES affords individuals the opportunity to make contacts in the industry, presents professional development courses and offers access to the society's job board.

Steady job growth for broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected through 2024. The minimum educational requirements are completion of a vocational certificate, although completion of an associate's or bachelor's degree may be required in some markets. Those interested in pursuing a career in this field should also seek internship opportunities at a radio or television station to acquire experience.

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