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Audio Engineer

Career Information

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Hand on mixing desk in recording studio
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Job Description

An audio engineer uses machinery and equipment to record, synchronize, mix or reproduce music, voices  or sound effects. He or she can work in the movie, music recording, theater or video game industries. Audio engineers may also be called sound engineering technicians, sound editors, recording engineers or sound engineers. This occupation is related to Broadcast Technician.

Employment Facts

There were roughly 69,000 people employed in this and related occupations in 2012. The majority work in the motion picture and video industries. Jobs in this field are usually full-time and there are freelance and telecommuting positions available.

Educational Requirements

To become an audio engineer one can attend a vocational program that usually lasts up to a year. Programs will train students to use the equipment they will eventually have to use at work. Some employers prefer an associate degree.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements

Most employers look for workers who are proficient with the equipment they use. This usually comes from a combination of formal training and experience. In addition to the technical expertise he or she will acquire in a formal educational program, an audio engineer also needs certain soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation. He or she must be adept at solving problems and collaborating with others. Good communication, interpersonal and organizational skills are also necessary. In order to use audio equipment one must have excellent manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

Advancement Opportunities

With experience, an audio engineer can move into a supervisory position.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this field will experience job growth that is about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2022.

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?

Earnings

In 2012, people working in this field earned a median annual salary of $46,310 and median hourly wages of $22.27 (US).

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much an audio engineer currently earns in your city.

A Day in an Audio Engineer's Life:

These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for audio engineer and related positions found on Indeed.com:

  • Minimize unwanted sounds on set.
  • Regulate volume levels and sound quality during recording sessions, using various types of professional field mixers.
  • Set up ambient sound microphones for crowd and cage.
  • Collaborate with producers, performers, and others to determine and achieve the desired sound for a production.
  • Provide audio systems oversight of the show during production.
  • Set up and operate playback and reinforcement for theatre, opera, meetings, choral concerts, dance, symphony, jazz, country, pop, variety shows and city events.
  • Play music and mix front of house audio for exciting live events.
  • Process audio to meet company’s quality standards.
  • Maintain and repair, and administer the repair of the equipment that you operate.

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/broadcast-and-sound-engineering-technicians.htm (visited January 18, 2014).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Sound Engineering Technicians, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/27-4014.00 (visited January 18, 2014).

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