How to Become an Audio Engineer

An audio engineer is a master of music.

They will work with all kinds of sounds, from rock songs, to commercial jingles, to film scores.

They may write and compose music themselves, but more often are responsible for mixing, playing, recording, and analyzing sounds and music.

Education Requirements to Become an Audio Engineer

To become an audio engineer, you need to know a lot about music and sound.

No matter how young you are, it’s never too early to start learning.

Start listening to as much music as you can, in as many different styles as possible.

Pay attention to the soundtracks of films and television shows, as well as the credits given to the sound department at the end.

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If you’re in high school or college, volunteer with your drama or film club to help them out with the sound.

You’ll also need to know a lot about sound equipment.

This can include mixing boards, microphones, speakers, interfaces, and a whole different range of instruments.

Being able to read music is an excellent skill, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to learn an instrument.

There is no formal educational requirement to be an audio engineer, but most who have employment in this area completed some kind of qualification after high school.

Most colleges and community colleges will offer a degree in audio engineering, or sound engineering.

This is probably the best way of gaining entry to the field.

Try and get some intern work while you are studying, or better yet, a part time job at a recording studio, radio station, or similar place of work.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t spend any time working with sound while there, you will still be gaining experience and making contacts.

Once you have finished your education, start looking for a job.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get a role as an audio engineer right away, these roles are competitive, and difficult to get without experience.

Instead, look for an entry level role in a company or studio that employs audio engineers.

Work hard, and keep improving your skills.

Eventually you’ll will be promoted into the role you want.

Audio Engineer Job Description

  • Mixing and mastering music
  • Composing music
  • Analyzing music and sounds
  • Editing Music
  • Ensuring high sound quality
  • Recording music

An audio engineer may work in many different fields.

They could be supervising a live recording to ensure that the sound is of the highest quality and balance, or working with prerecorded material to edit it and produce the best final result.

While many audio engineers work in the music business, they may also work with movie studios, working on sound for film or TV, as well as with ad agencies, creating jingles and mixing sound.

Audio Engineer Salary and Career Path

After you have five years of work experience as an audio engineer, you can apply to the Society of Broadcast Engineers for a certification as a broadcast engineer.

This is a great credit to add to your resume.

After time working as an audio engineer, you will be promoted to more senior roles, or may wish to embark out on your own as a freelancer.

The best in the business work in Nashville, Los Angeles, and New York, so if you want to be at the top of your game you may need to relocate.

When you get your first job as an audio engineer, your salary will likely be around $20,000 a year.

The median salary is around $38,000 according to BLS.gov, so with a few years experience behind you, you can expect to earn closer to this amount.

Those at the top of their career may earn as much as $90,000+ a year.

If you have passion, skill, and a great work ethic, this can be a very lucrative career.

The most important requirement to become an audio engineer is a passion for music and sound.

If you can spend hours listening to tunes, and have a great ear for music, then this might be a perfect career path to follow.

While getting your start in this role may be difficult, the reward of being able to follow your passion in life is well worth the hard work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an audio engineer?

An audio engineer can sometimes be called a sound engineer.

Unlike writers, performers, and sound producers, audio engineers are responsible only for the mechanical and technical aspects of sound and music.

Sound engineers can be assisting musicians and producers.

Audio engineers record, reproduce and mix the sound to help achieve the desired sound.

Professionals can use auto-tune, add various sounds to the track, put different pieces of a song together, etc.

There are a lot of different types of sound engineers – studio engineers, recording engineers, mix, mastering, live sound, systems engineers, as well as game and audio design engineers.

How much do audio engineers make?

The salary would depend not only on your experience but also on the type of industry you decide to work in.

In the United States, the average hourly rate for an audio engineer is around $15.

Usually, the salaries start from $12-$13 per hour.

A top-level audio engineer can earn around $53.000 annually.

However, the salary ranges from $22.000 to over $100.000 per year.

How much does it cost to become an audio engineer?

If you are willing to enter a music production school, then a year of education will cost you anywhere between $8.600 to $29.000.

The cost does not include the book and supplies, as well as accommodation and meals.

In a lot of schools, you will have the opportunity to work on state-of-the-art equipment.

Buying your own equipment or renting it will certainly cost you a small fortune.

What is the demand for audio engineers?

It is expected that the sound engineer market will grow by around 6.5% in the next decade.

At the moment, there are approximately 17.000 audio engineers in the United States.

In the next decade, the US might need over 7 thousand engineers more as the existing professionals will be retiring.

Only a thousand new job places would be created.

The salaries are higher in big cities, however, audio engineers are more likely to get a job in a small market (you might want to become a mastering engineer or specialize in voice-overs, for example).

As long as people will be watching TV, listening to music and attending concerts to see their favorite artists, the job of an audio engineer will be in demand.

How long does it take to become an audio engineer?

Some sound engineers might be hired with a high school diploma.

But it is more of an exception.

Usually, clients require postsecondary education (or even an associate’s degree).

The programs are available at community colleges and technical schools.

Typically, an audio engineering program will take you around 2 years to complete.

You are going to learn audio principles, audio electronics, sound production, sound theory, and the use of equipment.

You can earn a certification from a national organization that offers recognized credentials.

In such a case, you would need to have at least 5 years of experience to get the opportunity to pass an exam.

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