Undergraduate students in sound technology can learn about digital and analog recording processes, acoustics, sound mixing and audio production. These programs are available at the associate's and bachelor's levels.
Master's degree studies could focus on advanced recording technologies and methods. Master's programs may require a portfolio for admission and a final project for graduation.
Associate's Degree in Sound Technology
Associate's degree programs in sound technology provide students with classroom instruction and practical experience in audio recording and engineering technology. Applicants should have a high school diploma or GED and have strong mathematical, science, and communication skills. Familiarity with musical instruments and recording technology is helpful. Associate's degree programs in sound technology normally include around 72 semester hours and can be finished in one to two years. Programs are available at technical schools and community colleges.
Students earning an associate's degree in sound technology take courses on analog and digital recording devices as well as both live and post-recording engineering. Topics typically covered in sound technology associate's degree programs include:
- Principles of digital recording
- Software and studio equipment
- Audio mixing techniques
- Analog tape recording
- Audio mastering
Bachelor's Degree in Sound Technology
Students in bachelor's degree programs in sound technology typically take four years to complete the 120-130 required credit hours. A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) is the most common bachelor's degree awarded in sound technology. Admission is often competitive, so prospective applicants should have strong academic records, especially in classes related to science and mathematics. Many programs require applicants to also submit standardized test scores.
Like associate's degree programs, bachelor's degree programs involve a mix of classroom work and hands-on practice with audio equipment. Courses offered usually revolve around topics such as audio recording techniques, acoustics and audio recording software. Other common classes are:
- Physics of acoustics
- Audio recording technology
- Digital audio workstation operation
- Audio production methods
- Sound mixing
Master's Degree in Sound Technology
A limited number of schools offer Master of Fine Arts programs in sound technology. Students need to be familiar with musical instruments and audio recording technology before being admitted into master's degree programs in sound technology; some MFA programs require applicants to submit a portfolio of their audio work. Applicants must also hold bachelor's degrees in related fields and should demonstrate academic aptitude through the submission of transcripts, a personal statement and possibly Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Most programs contain around 60 credit hours and may be completed in six semesters. Students usually focus their studies on a particular aspect of sound technology, such as psychoacoustics or creative sound strategies, and often complete a project related to their specialization.
Master's degree programs in sound technology teach advanced concepts related to audio recording, sound manipulating, and live audio broadcasting. The topics below are usually covered:
- Multitrack audio recording
- Digital audio recording technology
- Advanced sound synthesis
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree in sound technology prepares graduates for careers in audio recording, radio broadcasting, soundboard operation, and sound production. Some common career options for those holding an associate's degree in sound technology are:
- Concert hall sound engineer
- Audio recording engineer
- Compact disc mastering engineer
Earning master's degrees in sound technology prepares students for advanced recording industry careers. The jobs listed below may be available to Master of Fine Arts in Sound Technology graduates, some with additional training or experience:
- Record company executive
- Record producer
- Senior sound engineer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports that approximately 117,200 broadcast and sound engineering technicians were employed in 2014. Between 2014 and 2024, employment for sound engineering technicians is projected to increase by 7%. The BLS states that this average growth is due to businesses and organizations needing audio technology technicians to work on recently updated equipment. In 2015, the median annual salary for a sound engineering technician was $53,330, as reported by the BLS.
Degree programs in sound technology prepare graduates for various careers in the audio technology field. While an associate's or bachelor's degree is suffice, earning a master's degree could open up a larger pool of advanced employment opportunities in this competitive job market.