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Bachelor's Degree in Sound Engineering: Program Overview

An undergraduate degree in sound engineering is ideal for individuals who wish to pursue a career in music and sound recording or reinforcement. The program most commonly offered at the undergraduate level is a Bachelor of Science in Sound Engineering degree program.

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Bachelor of Science in Sound Engineering

A 4-year bachelor's degree program in sound engineering will provide undergraduate students with a background in musical theory, musical instruments and sound recording technologies. Students enrolled in such a program often learn about theories of sound and music in classroom lectures before learning how to apply those theories in actual recording studios.

The courses included in a bachelor's degree program in sound engineering provide students with an understanding of various types of acoustic instruments so that they might learn how to record each one. Courses also cover the technology and equipment associated with the sound engineering profession, such as multi-track recording devices, computer music composition software and sound reinforcement equipment. Many baccalaureate degree programs in the field also require that students complete internships or have real world experiences in sound production studios.

Education Prerequisites

A high school diploma and strong grade point average are the most common prerequisites to enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in sound engineering. Students who are interested in declaring the major should also complete general education courses in mathematics, computer science, communication and music theory.

Program Coursework

Many of the courses included in a bachelor's degree program in sound engineering focus both on the theory of music as well as the technical equipment and processes used to record and manipulate music. Some core courses might include:

  • American music history
  • Elementary piano study
  • Media arts seminar
  • Performing arts technology
  • Acoustics and psychoacoustics
  • Sound reinforcement
  • Musical composition and arranging
  • Sound recording
  • Sound production
  • Technical ear training
  • Sound engineering for theater

Popular Career Options

A bachelor's degree in sound engineering can prepare graduates for several positions in the music industry. These include:

  • Sound engineering technician
  • Audio engineer
  • Audio equipment technician
  • Mix engineer
  • Recording engineer
  • Music producer
  • Mastering engineer
  • Assistant engineer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be 10 percent growth for broadcast and sound engineering technician positions from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). However, growth for sound engineering technicians alone is expected to be just one percent, with strong competition expected. The BLS reported in May 2012 that sound engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of $46,310.

Continuing Education Options

A Master of Science in Sound Engineering or a Master of Science in Audio Engineering degree program can provide students with an advanced understanding of the music recording and production industry. Such a 2-year program typically contains advanced seminars on emerging technologies in the field and advanced studio production experience. Graduates can leverage a continuing educational experience in sound engineering to gain positions of management in sound recording studios.

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