If you're passionate about the music industry and love producing music, a job as a sound engineer might be the high note of your career. A sound engineer, often known as an audio engineer, is responsible for the audio equipment and systems used in concerts, live productions, fashion shows, business conventions, church services, live recordings, music videos, television and radio broadcasts. Some sound engineering companies require formal education in the field, but most require hands-on experience with audio equipment and technical knowledge of audio systems.
Even though a formal education beyond high school isn't required to become a sound engineer, some companies prefer job candidates who have a bachelor's degree in audio engineering, sound production or a related music field. Among schools with sound production programs are the University of Indiana, the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Miami. Training programs at universities or vocational schools and internships with sound engineering companies are beneficial to people who want to be sound engineers. .
Previous experience and technical training with sound equipment is usually a pre-requisite for a sound engineering job. According to Cal Performances at the University of California Berkeley, an audio engineer applicant must have extensive experience with sound mixing consoles, on-stage monitors and digital consoles. Technical knowledge setting up audio systems, the ability to trouble-shoot audio problems, an understanding of lighting basics and knowledge of how various types of acoustics enhance performances is also required. Missouri State University reports that an audio engineer usually operates more than 20 feet of controls and monitors hundreds of equipment configurations.
A sound engineer works with a production crew to create the best sound experience possible. Strong leadership traits -- scheduling rehearsals, supervising workers, training new employees, communicating deadlines, managing band members and working collaboratively on projects -- are usually necessary for the job. Cal Performances suggests that strong customer service skills, excellent organizational and time management skills, multi‐tasking abilities and task delegation efforts help a sound engineer maintain a high level of productivity. Since sound engineering is a fast-paced environment, you must be able to prioritize demands, respond calmly to ever-changing situations and work under pressure to meet deadlines.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for a sound engineer technician was $56,100, as of 2011. The highest paying industries were the motion picture and video industries, with audio engineers making an average salary of $73,500 per year. Sound engineer technicians in performing arts companies and sound recording industries had average annual salaries of $44,000 and $55,700, respectively.
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