How to Become a Sound Engineer
Sound Engineer Careers & Degrees

Professionals in the Sound Engineering field provide a variety of artistic sound support in a variety of settings including recording studios and sound systems during live performances and concerts.

These individuals are not only experienced in working with sophisticated electronic equipment, but also use their artistic skills when working on a variety of projects.

Individuals who want to become a Sound Engineer will need a combination of training, education and some personal characteristics in order to succeed in this profession.

Important qualities to have may include: computer skills, be able to work with technological equipment and communications skills to work with individuals managing projects.

Education Requirements to Become a Sound Engineer

Depending on the level of work they want to perform, individuals who want to become a Sound Engineer will need a minimum of a certificate or a post-secondary non-degree in order to work at an entry level position.

Individuals who want stronger job prospects, advancement opportunities and work in research must pursue a postsecondary degree such as a bachelor’s or a master’s degree.

A non-degree program or certificate typically takes a year or less to complete.

Individuals who pursue this track will gain hands on experience to learn how to use the equipment needed to perform daily job duties.

Employers are more likely to seek individuals with higher levels of education for more advanced positions.

Therefore, individuals who want to become a Sound Engineer are encouraged to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Individuals should focus their degree in audio engineering or a closely related field in engineering.

Individuals who want to further their career have the option of going to graduate school to complete a master’s or doctoral degree.

Individuals who want to focus on research and development are required to complete a doctoral degree in sound engineering.

Additional educational backgrounds to work in this field include: acoustics, electronics, acoustical engineering, physics, broadcast engineering or computer science.

Sound Engineer Job Description

Sound Engineers are experienced in using sophisticated technological and recording equipment in order to create a variety of sounds for the projects they are working on.

Sound Engineers can get hired to create sounds for some of the following artistic projects:

  • Films
  • Music recordings
  • Live performances
  • Television shows
  • Radio slots

Sound Engineers use a combination of artistic talents and technological equipment savviness in order to create sound mixes for the projects they are hired to complete.

These individuals may work full time for a television, performance venue or radio company or work as a freelance profession working on several projects throughout the year.

Sound Engineers working in the television and film industry also tend to work irregular hours to accommodate deadlines and long schedules typical in these industries.

These individuals specifically work to create recording for television commercials, television shows and sound effects and soundtracks for films and shows.

Sound Engineers working for a radio station or live venue will use their skills to enhance the music during a live show or creating sounds such as sound effects for radio shows.

Sound Engineer Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median salary for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was approximately $41,200 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including level of experience, specialty and geographical locations.

Sound Engineers working in larger cities are more likely to earn higher wages.

Individuals specializing in sound engineering also earned a higher median salary of approximately $46,310 per year.

The job outlook for broadcast and sound engineering technicians is expected to grow at an average rate when compared to other professions.

Jobs in this field are expected to increase by 9 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is attributed to an increase in demand coming from media outlets and businesses looking to use the most updated technologies for movies and music.

Sound Engineers use a variety of technological equipment in order to create mixes and sound recordings for a variety of media.

Typical media forms that use a Sound Engineers sound mixes and recordings include: live performances, films, recorded music, television and radio.

These individuals have many options when deciding which type of industry they would like to create new sounds for as there are several different art forms they can aspire to working on.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$67,090
$25K
$35K
$67K
$79K
$121K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$48,180
Arizona$52,890
California$79,240
Colorado$60,130
Connecticut$95,030
District of Columbia$72,210
Florida$55,390
Georgia$67,490
Hawaii$46,980
Illinois$61,950
Indiana- NA -
Iowa$53,540
Kentucky$63,030
Louisiana$54,500
Maryland$48,290
Massachusetts$58,750
Michigan- NA -
Minnesota$50,260
Missouri$47,310
Nevada$60,150
New Jersey$59,910
New Mexico$54,170
New York$79,400
North Carolina- NA -
Ohio$54,300
Oklahoma$56,390
Oregon$44,090
Pennsylvania$51,810
South Carolina- NA -
Tennessee- NA -
Texas$57,790
Utah$28,410
Virginia$51,400
Washington- NA -
Wisconsin$54,580
Puerto Rico- NA -

The top earning state in the field is Connecticut, where the average salary is $95,030.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Connecticut - $95,030
New York - $79,400
California - $79,240
District of Columbia - $72,210
Georgia - $67,490
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Sound Engineering Technicians, OCC Code 27-4014, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a sound engineer?

Sound engineers balance and adjust the sound for recordings and sound performances.

They use equalization and audio effects to adjust sound sources.

Their job responsibilities include setting up and testing equipment before a recording session or an event.

Sound engineers also have the role of making routine repairs and converting audio records to digital formats that can be later edited using computer software.

As a sound engineer, you will need communication and computer skills along with manual dexterity and problem-solving skills.

A sound engineer’s duties vary depending on the area where they work; if you work for smaller radio or television station you may have more responsibilities.

QuestionHow much does a sound engineer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for broadcast and sound engineering technicians was $43,660 as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors.

Some earn less than $24,000 while others earn more than $80,000 a year.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a sound engineer?

Sound engineers typically need postsecondary education in radio, television, music, electrical engineering, or a related field.

Education costs vary widely, depending on the school and the program you choose.

An associate’s program in radio production can costs, on average, around $3,000-$3,500 a year, while a four-year college program can cost you, in total, over $165,000.

QuestionWhat is the demand for sound engineers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for sound engineering technicians is expected to grow 2 percent from 2018 to 2028, slower than the average for all occupations.

Sound engineers will still be needed in the television and motion picture industry to improve the quality of sound for shows and movies.

As more streaming services and online platforms start to produce their own films and shows, additional job opportunities are expected to appear for sound engineers.

If you want to become a sound engineer, you should expect strong competition; having some experience in using sound equipment will give you better job prospects.

Holding a bachelor’s degree from a reputable institution will also give you an advantage over your competitors on the job market.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a sound engineer?

Sound engineers usually hold a degree in radio, music production, electrical engineering, or a related field.

A two-year associate degree program or a four-year bachelor’s degree program can help you learn the basics of sound technology.

You can start your career by working for a smaller station or for a smaller market, thus gaining hands-on experience in the field.

As a sound engineer, you will have to learn throughout your career in order to keep up with technological advances.

Certification is not required but may help you prove your credentials to a potential employer.

The Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association offers three types of credentials, including a Certified Technology Specialist credential, which requires passing an exam; the certification is valid for three years.

Find a Program