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Audio Engineering Degree

In order to pursue a career in audio engineering, you will first need to enroll in a bachelor’s degree and then proceed on to advanced qualifications to take on senior positions. If you want to learn more about audio engineering as a career, read on.

What is audio engineering?

Audio engineering, also known as sound engineering, is the study of the technical aspects and processes involved in the recording of music and sound. A sound engineer will use high-tech equipment and tools to record, mix, and synchronize music, instruments, sounds, voices, effects, etc. This can take place in a variety of settings including movie productions, theatre productions, and recording studios.

Sound engineers are also sometimes referred to as sound technicians. They use their knowledge and expertise in the field to design and control sound. One of the biggest misconceptions about sound engineering is that the work is only related to music. In fact, sound engineering is a very broad profession which deals with the sound in movies, radio, live performances, plays, television, etc. 

Some of the job duties of a sound engineer include:

  • Controlling the sound levels and outputs of audio in various setting such as conferences, theatres, etc
  • Determine what audio equipment will be best for different purposes
  • Coordinate with other members of a larger team such as directors, editors, video operators, etc
  • Setting up audio and mixing board equipment at events

Within the field of sound engineering, there are a number of specialties you can choose to specialize in. These include:

  • Studio sound
  • Video game audio design
  • Research and development in audio design
  • Monitor sound engineering

How to pursue a career in audio engineering

If you want to pursue a career in sound or audio engineering, you will need to have the relevant qualifications and training. At the undergraduate level you will learn all of the basics of music theory and recording. You will have to take part in internships to put what you’ve learned into practice and gain real-world experience in the field.

Advanced degrees in the field such as a graduate degree are necessary if you want to work as a sound engineer or technician. These programs delve deeper into the techniques and equipment required in sound engineering.

If this is a career you’re interested in pursuing, the following is an outline of the steps you can take to pursue it:

Steps to becoming an audio engineer:

1. Enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in audio/sound engineering

2. Enroll in a graduate degree program in sound engineering

3. Get relevant training and experience in the field of sound engineering

Bachelor’s degree in audio engineering

A bachelor’s degree in sound or audio engineering is essential in order to establish your foundational knowledge in the field. These programs offer students the chance to learn all of the fundamentals in classroom settings through lectures and then apply what they’ve learned in recording studios.

Students will learn about the history of music as well as about a variety of different instruments and how to record them. You will also learn how to use the equipment and technology which is used in the sound engineering profession. This includes everything from sound reinforcement equipment, multi-track recording devices, and computer music composition software.

As part of this program, you may be required to take part in internships in order to build upon your practical, hands-on experience in the field.

Degree

Duration

Some of the courses offered

Bachelor’s degree in audio engineering

4 years

  • Performing arts technology
  • Sound production
  • Acoustics and psychoacoustics
  •  Sound recording
  • American music history
  • Musical composition and arranging
  • Media arts seminar

Master’s degree in sound engineering

At the graduate level, a master’s of science degree in sound engineering can provide you with advanced knowledge, understanding, and skills in music recording as well as the production industry at large. These programs feature advanced courses on the techniques involved in sound recording as well as all of the new emerging technologies being used in the field. A graduate degree in the field is required if you want to work as a sound engineer and take on advanced positions of management in sound recording studios.

Degree

Duration

Some of the courses offered

Master’s degree in sound engineering

2 years

  • Advanced sound editing
  • Advanced music production
  • Electronics and filters
  • Dubbing and multi-channel mixing
  • Post production
  • Advanced project management

Career prospects and salary

On the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website, audio engineers fall under the career profile for Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians. Data indicates that in May 2015, these professionals made an annual median salary of $41,780 per year, which works out to be about $20.09 per hour. In 2014, there were 117,200 jobs in this industry. This field is expected to see employment growth of 7% between 2014 and 2024, which will lead to the creation of about 7,700 new jobs.

There are three industries which have a high level of employment for broadcast and sound engineering technicians. These include:

Industry

Annual Median Wage (May 2015)

Motion picture, video, and sound recording industries

$50,400

 

Arts, entertainment, and recreation

$42,300

Radio and television broadcasting

$35,370

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