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Sound technicians are responsible for the audio that's being performed live or recorded for any type of show or event. In order to make this happen, they operate control panels and direct the operation of equipment to regulate sound range, signal strength, and clarity. In many cases, the sound is recorded, copied, and/or edited. The sounds they process may include music, voices, and special effects and they do their work for a variety of commercial and entertainment purposes.

Technicians also maintain and take care of their equipment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In today's working environment, sound technicians need a good understanding of digital sound and must be comfortable using digital software to produce and edit it.

Sound Technicians picture    Sound Technicians image

Sound Technician Schools

A diploma-based education can be important in gaining the skills and knowledge to work in the sound field, but also in developing practical experiences with different equipment types and in different venues. Some associate degree programs also can be found, and even though sound technician schools are available throughout the U.S., just a few of these example schools include:

  • The Los Angeles Recording School: Located in the heart of Hollywood, the sound recording program offered at this school leads to an associate of arts degree. You also have the opportunity to bring your skills out of the classroom and into real-life use at the school's live venue, the Ivar Theatre.
  • SAE Institute: In nine months, you can complete an audio technology diploma providing you with the fundamentals in sound technology at the SAE Institute. Seven campuses are available across the nation including in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and others.
  • McNally Smith College of Music: With three on-campus performance venues, this St. Paul, Minn., school gives students in its Live Sound program the ability to put their skills to real work, and has a diploma-based program that you can complete in 12 months.
  • Institute of Audio Research: Based in New York City, this institute makes a nine-month diploma program in audio engineering and music production available. Lab components are essential to many lectures, and you also can turn to the school's career services to transition toward employment opportunities.
  • Valencia College: A full associate degree program in sound and music technology is available through this Orlando, Fla., based school. Additionally, you can choose from three areas of specialization and go on to complete a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering technology at the school.

Sound Technician Education Requirements

A college certificate or or non-degree award is typically needed to enter the sound engineering technician field, reports the BLS. These programs often can be found through sound technician schools and usually take several months to complete, while giving students hands-on experience. In a program, students could learn about:

  • Soundwaves
  • Analog and digital recording consoles
  • Microphones
  • Live audio engineering
  • The music business as a whole

Sound technician training programs like these provide you with practical field experiences that could be key to making connections and building future opportunities. In addition to learning how to work public announcement systems in sound technician training programs, you should also learn how to maintain audio equipment and to provide sound to a venue, whether that's a stage, a theater or a studio.

Sound Tech and Audio Engineer Certifications

Certification is not required, but can serve as a valuable credential to establish recognition of experience and competence in the field. There are several certifications available to sound technicians, including from The Society of Broadcast Engineers. This society offers a multitude of certification options for the broadcasting field, two of which include:
  1. The Certified Audio Engineer (CAE)
  2. The Certified Video Engineer (CVE)
At least five years of experience is required, although there are other alternatives, such as possession of a bachelor's degree, that can offset some of the experience needed. Other certifying organizations include Avid Technology, Inc. and the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies. Most of these certifications require candidates to take and pass a qualifying examination.

Resources for Sound Technicians

  • Audio Engineering Society
  • Audio Check
  • Avid Technology, Inc.
  • National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET)
  • Society of Broadcast Engineers
  • Sound Studio and Audio Calculations
  • SoundWave
  • The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE)

Sources:

  1. Broadcast Sound Engineer and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/broadcast-and-sound-engineering-technicians.htm#tab-4
  2. Certificate in Audio Recording, The University of Missouri-St. Louis, no date. http://audiorecordingcertificate.com/about.
  3. Certified Audio Engineer® (CEA®) and Certified Video Engineer® (CEV®), The Society of Broadcast Engineers, no date. http://www.sbe.org/sections/CEA_and_CEV.php
  4. May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#00-0000
  5. Sound Engineering Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes274014.htm
  6. Master Sound, Los Angeles Recording School. http://learn.lafilm.edu/recording-arts/?src=180FUSIONLAR&gclid=COXC2ZaZucoCFQZsfgod9_gHkw
  7. SAE Institute Education, SAE Institute. http://myfuture.sae.edu/112.html?network=s&cid=88294278866&campaignid=267315626&adgroupid=17782244666&match=b&k=audio%20engineer%20school&placement=&device=c&adposition=1t2&source=501147&content=SFO&gclid=COW3-ZaZucoCFYlafgodmZcMqw
  8. Live Sound, McNally Smith College of Music. http://www.mcnallysmith.edu/degrees-programs/majors-areas-of-study/live-sound
  9. Institute of Audio Research, Institute of Audio Research. http://www.audioschool.com/landing-pages/sound-education?gclid=CNSI5JWiucoCFUNgfgodOCkO1A
  10. Arts and Entertainment, Valencia College. http://valenciacollege.edu/asdegrees/arts/mpt.cfm

Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers Skills

Below are the skills needed to be sound technicians and audio engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening3.623.12
Speaking3.623.38
Critical Thinking3.53.5
Reading Comprehension3.53.75
Monitoring3.383.5

Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be sound technicians and audio engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Near Vision3.753.5
Oral Expression3.753.62
Oral Comprehension3.624
Written Expression3.623.5
Hearing Sensitivity3.53.88

Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be sound technicians and audio engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

   
Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Computers and Electronics4.444.94
Communications and Media3.844.16
Customer and Personal Service3.814.19
Engineering and Technology3.754.03
Fine Arts3.624.28

Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being sound technicians and audio engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Interacting With Computers4.724.84
Thinking Creatively4.525.7
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships4.445.31
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.314.72
Documenting/Recording Information4.164.44

Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being sound technicians and audio engineers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

   
Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.81
Dependability4.72
Cooperation4.69
Stress Tolerance4.44
Adaptability/Flexibility4.38

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers jobs , as of 2017

   
Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim3,680 $82,460
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward530 $78,010
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell350 $56,040
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin300 $56,310
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue230 $82,880
San Diego-Carlsbad220 $68,510
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach210 $45,060
Salt Lake City200 N/A
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington150 $53,620
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land140 $54,150

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Sound Technicians

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to sound technicians

Source : 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.