What Is An Audio Engineer?

Audio engineers, also called sound or recording engineers, are responsible for creating the best possible sound for a wide array of applications. Audio technician work in recording studios, concert halls, and other live venues; on television shows and radio broadcasts; as well as for video game companies and the movie industry.

Audio technologists work in media production where sound quality is essential. The tasks that audio engineers do are grouped into three main phases: pre-production, production, and post-production.

A: Pre-production activities  - include ensuring that audio and recording equipment and software are properly set up and functioning. Depending on the size of the production, the audio engineer may supervise a team of assistant engineers and audio technicians to get the work done. In order to properly set up the equipment to produce a high-quality sound experience, it is important to thoroughly be familiar with the goals of the recording session or live event.

B: Production activities - are primarily focused on getting the best live or recorded sound possible.  To do this, the audio engineer operates a complex array of analog and digital equipment, including microphones, mixing consoles, tape machines, signal processors, speaker systems and signaling software.

C: Post-production activities - for recording sessions involve mixing all the audio tracks produced during the recording session into a pleasing whole. Most sound specialists today use ProTools and other audio editing software to carry out this task. For live sessions, all the equipment used during the event must carefully be disassembled and the venue cleared for the next live performance. 

Whether working in a recording or broadcast studio or at a live event, it’s clear that an advanced level of technical skill and ability is necessary to succeed in this field.

What Training Is Needed to Become an Audio Engineer?

The task of finding a reputable vocational school that can give the training and hands-on experience you’ll need to pursue your career is critical to your success and the better prepared you’ll be to make the right choice.

First decide the type of skills you want to master and the industry you want to work in. Do you want to work with musicians and recording artists in a recording studio? Or would you prefer mixing and producing audio tasks at live events?

The great thing is that you will be able to work in various mediums such as music, film, or video. You can choose between either an associate’s degree certification or a bachelor’s degree program.  

Associate’s degree and certification programs typically take two to three years to complete. You can acquire training through technical and community colleges, vocational schools, or through online degree programs.

Courses available in most audio engineering schools include audio and live sound theory, sound mixing, digital sampling, and an introduction to ProTools audio mixing software. The best schools will also offer hands-on training in the use of sound and recording equipment.

Many Bachelor’s degree programs offered at four-year institutions, requires students seeking admissions to have a high school diploma or equivalent. It would be in your best interest while attending a University to get hands-on audio experience before you graduate.

Many of the courses offered through graduate degrees are similar to the associate’s degree programs, but also include courses in audiology fundamentals, film and audio-video engineering, digital mastering technology, music theory and history, and audio post production.

The reason obtaining a B.A. Degree is better for your career options is because employment in urban centers such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are very competitive. Those who get certified through the Society of Broadcast Engineers with the Certified Audio Engineer credential will have a better chance of getting hired.

What Is the Employment Outlook for Audio Engineers?

Jobs for audio engineers  will continue to grow through 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the highest paying jobs in major metropolitan areas. Annual salaries are dependent on how much education you receive as well as how many years of experience you have. Selecting the right audio engineering school is key to having a rewarding career.