Audio engineering refers to the technical aspect of recording, remixing and reproducing sound. Audio engineers are utilized in every integral part of the media industry, with a hand in reproducing the audio in movies, music and television. Here we will discuss audio engineering, the required education, salary and the potential growth of this field in the years to come.
Audio Engineering: In the beginning
It can be debatable as far as what is required for an audio engineering education. There is a small percentage, approximately 31% of audio engineers that have a high school diploma and no formal education in this field, those of which will have an extensive amount of hours and training spent out in the field. Others may choose to go to a vocational school, in order to receive a diploma in audio engineering and music production. These courses will typically consist of 720 hours spent in the classroom and out in the field, taking up the hands on approach by getting students out there to experience the work. The course outline for this field can consist of classes for recording techniques, such as: recording projects, analog and digital mixing consoles, RADAR, tape and pro tools recording, assistant engineering, signal flow and processing, overdubbing and editing and running studio sessions.
There are classes in audio recording software for programs such as Logic, Pro Tools and Ableton live, that teaches students understanding game audio workflow, how to work with dialog, add sound effects, incorporate realistic vehicle sounds and creating dynamic cinematics. Classes that focus on modern mixing techniques will feature lessons in stereo and 5.1 mixing, effects, equalization, dynamics re-mixing and mastering.
Electronic music classes focus on beat and loop production, sampling, DJ’ing with programs such as Serato and Ableton live, producing with Logic and Reason, Autotune and Melodyne, synthesis, sequencing and synth programming and MIDI.
Music theory and song writing covers topics such as chord structure, chord progressions and analysis, scales and keys, tempo and time signatures, studio session charts, cycle of fifths, overtone series, song structure, creative lyric writing, creative memorable melodies, writing from a title and rhyme schemes.
Other classes for audio engineering that are offered are: the business of music, which focuses on goal setting and situational analysis, understanding music copyright, promoting services and label education.
The audio for film, video and new media class teaches students about sound design, how to set recording and playback and creating a sound effect library.
While a class in live sound offers students training in PA design, room tuning, tour management, transportation logistics, venue construction, live recording and live internet streams.
Other than vocational schools that provide certificate programs that qualify a student for a career in audio engineering, there are audio engineering schools that offer an associate of science and a Bachelor of Science degree. When selecting the school of your choice, choose a school that can provide you with the tools you’ll need to succeed after graduation. Some audio engineering schools will have a job placement department, and there are also other resources to look into while attending school, such as Mixonline.com and recording review.
Audio Engineering: Starting Out
After completing an audio engineering program, most audio engineers can use their newly acquired education to land jobs such as: broadcast technician, audio engineer, sounding engineer technician and operator, digital recording editor, software sound engineering, system administrator and video equipment technician. A typical day in the life of an audio engineer can consist of : Working with producers and artists to determine the desired sound for a recorded piece. Setting up, testing and adjusting recording equipment for live recording sessions are well as tearing down the set-up after a recording session is completed, controlling volume levels and sound quality using a control console, preparing for recording sessions by setting up and testing microphones, mixing and editing voices, music and sound effects for live or pre-recorded events with the use of a sound mixing board, synchronizing and equalizing pre-recorded material with visual action of motion pictures or television productions.
Those that work in the audio engineering field know how erratic their schedules can be, especially if they’re free-lance audio engineers. Their schedules will usually be based on the type of project they’re working on, coordinating their schedules with artists and producers and working late hours to finish up projects and meet deadlines.
With a new degree for audio engineering, the individual will have experience with recording, mix and master sound in a multi-media environment and editing. Audio engineers can often make a solid living as a free-lance audio engineer, or working on a regular basis for a studio. Most audio engineers will focus on finding jobs in the music industry, editing, mixing tracks for artists or can also go to work in broadcast media, working at radio or television stations working as part of a production staff editing and mixing recorded pieces for commercials and other material that’s aired. Some audio engineering graduates chose to start their own business by opening up and running their own recording studio.
As with most professions, the salary for audio engineering will be based on that particular engineer’s level of experience and expertise. For those engineers just starting out, as many will initially work on a free-lance basis, the expected income earnings can be around 27,000 for the first few years. Those working as on-staff audio engineers can earn anywhere from 27,000$-50,000$. Experienced audio engineers can earn around 75,000$ a year with the potential of earning 90,000$. The cities where the job market is booming for this field are LA and New York, where the top producers in the music industry are located. salaries for an audio engineer are also typically higher.
Audio Engineering: Where they’re headed
When starting out, it’s recommended that those fresh out of school or those potential audio engineers that are currently attending school should work hard at applying for internships at places such as radio or television stations and recording studio’s. This is one way to build your reputation and get hands-on experience under your belt and your foot in the door.
For this career choice, as with many others, the audio engineer will start their new career at the bottom and work their way up after years of experience as the competition for this particular field can be fierce. With a good reputation and enough accomplished jobs an audio engineer can make advancement to a chief engineer; which is someone that can supervise a whole studio, overseeing all of the recordings that take place. There is an estimation that this career field will steadily climb over the next six years by at least 8%, while today this career is said to be climbing slower than the average career field.
Most of those who choose a career in audio engineering do so for their love of music. Engineers are passionate about creating new sounds and perfecting an artist’s work by knowing how to turn a piece of music into something that can reflect their ability to create quality by analyzing each different source of sound. Audio engineering is an exciting and fulfilling career that will be steadily growing in the near future.
By: Amy D. Hartwell
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