Higher Studies in Music


How to Build a Career as an Audio Engineer

While the focus when it comes to music and film is almost always solely on those singing or speaking the dialogue, there are countless jobs that go into supporting those players. There is an entire industry that works in the background, one which is incredibly important, but not well understood.

The people who develop audio technology, set up speakers and microphones at shows and concerts, record vocals and instruments in a studio, smooth everything out and mix together singing with drums, guitar, and so on: these are the Audio Engineers. They are the ones responsible for getting the beautiful singing or the heart-wrenching words from a performer’s mouth to your ears, and it’s all a lot more complicated than it may seem.

If you’re curious about audio engineering, what those in the field do, what it takes to get there and how you may be able to study and one day find your place in this world, read on!

Here’s what we’ll cover in this basic overview of audio engineering:

  • What is audio engineering?
  • What is an Audio Engineer?
  • What do Audio Engineers actually do?
  • Other job titles
  • The four specializations you need to know
  • Studying audio engineering
  • What degrees and certifications do Audio Engineers need?
  • What’s the average Audio Engineer salary?
  • Staying on top of technology

Along the way, we’ll hear from respected Audio Engineers working in a variety of roles. Read on for thoughts on breaking into the industry from Berklee Music Production and Engineering Professor Susan Rogers, the pioneering Studio Engineer who worked with Prince, Tricky, and David Byrne, and Igloo Music’s Gustavo Borner, who has worked on albums by Marilyn Manson and Juanes and film soundtracks like Deadpool 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Watchmen.

What Is Audio Engineering?

First things first! What actually is audio engineering? Well, at its most basic level, audio engineering is the act of producing a sound recording of any kind. That’s pretty vague, but it’s good to let you know it applies to many different fields to begin.

What Is an Audio Engineer?

When someone says they are an Audio Engineer, this can mean many different things, but they likely fit into one of two general categories. The first is probably what most of the people who clicked this article are looking for, but there is another, one which isn’t talked about as often, but which is also important and worth mentioning.

As most people think of them, Audio Engineers use a wide variety of tools and technology to take sound coming from one initial source, such as a Singer on stage or in a recording studio or an Actor on set, and get it to the audience. That audience can be standing right in front of them, such as is the case at a concert or a musical, or we can be talking about someone sitting at home watching TV. Both of these scenarios will require a person with an understanding of audio engineering.

The second kind of Audio Engineer is one who is actually a scientist. This type of Audio Engineer is one who researches, designs, and possibly even builds new technology that allows other sound professionals to improve the live and recorded experience. These are the people who have improved the sound quality in TV and film throughout the decades, and the ones who ensure that even if you have the cheapest seat at a show or concert, you can hear much better today than you would have years ago.

The two types of Audio Engineers work together, in a sense, though not often actually on any specific projects. Typically, when someone uses the phrase “audio engineering” in the music industry, they are referring to the former option.
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