Exploring the career path of a sound engineer

Are you someone who enjoys mixing sounds? Were you involved in the percussion section of a band? Have you always wondered how certain sound effects or music composition are produced in the final product? If so, you should consider a career as a sound engineer.
A sound engineer or a sound technician is responsible for putting together the sound effects, mixing sounds, and adding the finishing touches to a music composition. They often work in recording studios, sporting arenas and live theatres.
Believe it or not, a successful career as a sound engineer is both an art and a science. While detecting the type of sound element to balance the rest of the piece is an art, programming it using the latest electronic and digital equipment is more of a science. As a result, a sound engineer should be someone who is detail focused and has an ear for sound as well as an interest with sound production equipment and programming.
While a formal education is not required to become a sound engineer, however, a college diploma will provide a great competitive advantage for students who wish to pursue a career in this field. Sound engineering technician programs are a bit specialized and are only offered by a small number of colleges in the country. Students who are looking to enroll in this type of program following graduation may need to consider relocation and need to set aside funds for room and board in addition to tuition.
On the other hand, there are a number of successful sound technicians and producers in the industry who did not have necessarily have a formal education. For instance, there are a number of talented DJs who have worked in night clubs for a number of years before pursuing a full time career as a music producer or a sound engineer. They are able to convert their love for music production and sound effects to a career managing other people’s compositions as well as television, film and even radio productions.
According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates from a sound engineering technician program will most likely be employed by motion picture and video industries, sound recording studios, television and radio broadcasting companies, performing arts companies and sports arenas.1 There are also a number sound engineers who are independent and operate their own businesses rather than work for a company.
While technology and the public’s increase in consumption of digital media may increase the demand for quality sound productions, the field of sound engineering is a bit niche where there are not many professions who choose to have a career in this field. As a result, industry connections are extremely vital in order to break into this field. Because most of these jobs are centered in areas where there are film and television productions, video game designs and radio broadcasting, many students choose to enroll in a program that is located closely to major sound recording companies, television and film studios where sound engineers are in demand.
For more information on the field of sound production and sound engineering, please contact your high school career counsellor to learn more.
1. Sound Engineering Technicians. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. US Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes274014.htm#nat

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