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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

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 2016

     
Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 3,910 $78,840
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 510 $78,090
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 470 $42,620
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin 380 $51,650
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 300 $82,010
San Diego-Carlsbad 240 $68,300
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 230 $41,920
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 210 $51,860
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 180 $53,830
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford 160 N/A

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to sound technicians

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Sound Technicians and Audio Engineers

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Movie And Music 9,220 57% $50,460
Media And Broadcasting 2,650 16% $42,110
Performing Arts And Sports 1,440 8% $38,330
Professional And Technical Services 850 5% $47,150
Education 460 2% $37,870
Hotel And Accomodation 310 1% $60,610
Rental And Lease 250 1% $39,340
Restaurant 230 1% $26,590
Non-profit 210 1% $33,750
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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.

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