Audio Engineer

Career Information

Hand on mixing desk in recording studio
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Audio engineers use machinery and equipment to record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects. They work on the production of movies, music recordings, live shows, or video games. Other job titles for this occupation are sound engineering technician and audio and video equipment technician.

Quick Facts

  • In 2015, the median annual salaries for audio and video equipment technicians and sound engineering technicians, the occupations most closely related to audio engineers, were $41,440  and $53,330 respectively.
  • There were 16,000 sound engineering technicians and 71,000 audio and video equipment technicians employed in 2014.
  • Most people worked in the radio and television, motion picture, video and sound recording, and the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment in this occupation will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.

A Day in an Audio Engineer's Life

Before you embark on preparing for this career, you should know what typical job duties you can expect to have. Here is what we found when we looked at online ads for audio engineer and related positions listed on Indeed.com:

  • "Minimize unwanted sounds on set"
  • "Regulate volume levels and sound quality during recording sessions, using various types of professional field mixers"
  • "Set up ambient sound microphones for crowd and cage"
  • "Collaborate with producers, performers, and others to determine and achieve the desired sound for a production"
  • "Provide audio systems oversight of the show during production"
  • "Set up and operate playback and reinforcement for theatre, opera, meetings, choral concerts, dance, symphony, jazz, country, pop, variety shows and city events"
  • "Play music and mix front of house audio for exciting live events"
  • "Process audio to meet company’s quality standards"
  • "Maintain and repair, and administer the repair of the equipment that you operate"

How to Become an Audio Engineer

To become an audio engineer you can attend a vocational program for about a year. You will receive a non-degree award or certificate upon completion. Programs will train students to use the equipment they will eventually have to use at work. Some employers prefer job candidates who have earned an associate degree.

What Soft Skills Do You Need?

Most employers look for workers who are proficient with the equipment they have to use to do their job. This set of hard skills usually comes from a combination of formal training and experience. An audio engineer also needs certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation. They are:

  • Problem Solving: Audio engineers must be able to determine why equipment is malfunctioning and make the necessary repairs and adjustments.
  • Critical Thinking: In order to fix problems, they must come up with alternative solutions and then figure out which will be most successful.
  • Manual Dexterity: One must have a steady hand to set up equipment, connect wires, and use knobs and buttons to make adjustments.
  • Monitoring: Audio engineers must continually monitor volume levels and sound quality.
  • Communication Skills: Excellent listening and speaking skills allow frequent collaboration on projects.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

To find out what qualifications employers are seeking, we again turned to Indeed.com to examine job announcements for audio engineers:

  • "Ability to demonstrate planning, organizing and implementing skills which allow the successful completion of a project by a specific due date"
  • "Ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously"
  • "Strong ability to learn new technologies"
  • "Ability to constructively collaborate in a results oriented team"
  • "Demonstrated success in the creation of superb content under pressure"

    Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

    Take the Audio Engineer Quiz.

    Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

     DescriptionAnnual Salary (2015)Educational Requirements
    Camera OperatorMakes visual recordings of the action in movies, television shows, and commercials.$49,080Bachelor's degree in film or broadcasting
    Broadcast TechnicianRegulates the audio and video on television broadcasts and the audio on radio broadcasts$37,490Associate degree in broadcast technology
    Radio OperatorsReceives and transmits radio communications$50,040H.S. or equivalency diploma

     

    Sources:
    Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited December 13, 2016).
    Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited December 13, 2016).

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