Recording Arts Major and Undergraduate Degree Program Information

Recording arts degree programs are available at 2-year technical and community colleges, and 4-year schools that are dedicated to the study of music and the arts. Find out what kind of courses you can expect with each, along with career information and future education options.

Essential Information

Associate's and bachelor's-level recording arts degree programs explore various aspects of the recording industry, including equipment, sound editing, and digital recording techniques. Most programs combine classroom-based lecture sessions with ample time in campus recording studios. Students in these programs develop studio and live recording skills that are relevant to the music field, along with business skills that can be applied to the entire entertainment industry. Applicants are required to possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some programs require the submission of a portfolio demonstrating the applicant's skills and creative interest in the recording arts.

Associate's Degree in the Recording Arts

Associate degree programs in the recording arts provide students with foundational skills in the concepts and technologies used in recording for music, theater, television, and films. Students spend significant time in recording studios and music laboratories where they can gain hands-on experience working with equipment, such as microphones and mixing boards. Most programs also incorporate training in digital recording, including software-based recording equipment. Students in a recording arts associate degree program are trained in the theoretical and technical aspects of the recording industry, through courses such as the following:

  • Music theory
  • Recording technology
  • Recording aesthetics
  • Multitrack recording technology
  • Digital recording techniques
  • Musical acoustics

Bachelor's Degree in the Recording Arts

Bachelor's degree programs in this field prepare students for recording and sound production careers in music, television, and other media forms. However, the primary focus tends to be on music with training in areas, such as songwriting, music theory, and ear training. A major component of this program is practical training in a recording studio, with students often practicing recording techniques on performances by fellow students. In order to best prepare students for work following graduation, a bachelor's program in recording arts often includes extensive opportunities for students to work as recording technicians at school events, such as musical concerts and theatrical productions. Recording arts majors take courses related to performing and producing musical recordings. These include:

  • Music history
  • Digital mastering
  • Digital recording
  • Music publishing and copyright law
  • Principles of recording technology
  • Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) technology

Popular Career Options

Graduates earning a recording arts bachelor's degree are prepared for leadership positions in sound recording and production in roles such as:

  • Music producer
  • Mastering engineer
  • Sound engineer
  • Television and film sound editor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Associate's degree holders can find several careers in the recording industry, including broadcast and sound engineering technician positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in broadcast and sound engineering technology are projected to increase by 7% from 2014-2024. The median annual wages for a sound engineering technician was $53,330 in May 2015, while the median annual wages for a broadcast technician was $37,490 that year.

Continuing Education Information

Most employers in the recording arts seek applicants with practical experience and formal training. Typically, applicants are not required to possess education beyond an undergraduate degree. For those looking to further develop their skills or advance in their careers, master's degree programs in recording arts are available. These programs are intended for individuals with significant work experience. Certification is generally not required for those working in the recording arts.

Recording arts undergraduate degrees teach you about the techniques and equipment that go into recording and producing sounds. Graduating from one of these programs can set you on the path for several careers in a variety of fields, with the possibility of furthering your education.

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