Audio Recording Degree and Career Education Programs

Read information about undergraduate and graduate degree studies in audio recording. Get details about prerequisites and course topics for each program. Look at employment outlook and salary statistics for professionals in this field.

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Essential Information

Audio recording degrees are available at the bachelor's and master's levels, and they're typically available as recording arts or sound engineering technology programs. Schools often prefer applicants who have a strong musical background; a portfolio of music-related projects may be required for admission to master's programs.

An audio recording education typically incorporates both classroom and hands-on technical training in studio settings. Courses emphasize music theory and production processes along with digital recording technologies. Many programs culminate in a final recording project. While growth is anticipated in the employment of sound engineering technicians, competition for jobs is expected to be keen.


Bachelor's Degree in Recording Arts

Bachelor's degrees in audio recording are usually called recording arts or recording arts engineering degrees, and very often they are paired with music production. In most programs, students begin training on analog (not digital) recording labs, which provide a fundamental understanding of audio signal flow, the basis of nearly all mixing and recording technologies. Students typically progress to combination analog-digital studios and finally to fully digital studios. In fully digital studios, students learn about 5.1 surround sound and the latest recording technologies. Programs typically feature a mix of musical training and technical training, both of which are essential to success in the field.

Educational Prerequisites

In addition to high school transcripts, letters of recommendation and standardized test scores, many programs look for applicants who have a passion for music and involvement in the industry. This is best expressed in a personal statement. The strongest applicants will also have a musical or computer science background.

Program Coursework

In addition to training on industry-standard equipment and techniques, students also receive musical training, such as keyboard, aural and theoretical training. Here are some classes that might appear in the curriculum in bachelor's degree programs in recording arts:

  • Digital consoles
  • Audio post-production
  • Music theory
  • Critical listening
  • Audio file management

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

One of the most popular careers for graduates of bachelor's degree programs in recording arts is sound engineering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that the employment rate for broadcast and sound engineering technicians would grow 10% between 2010 and 2020, roughly as fast as average. The median annual salary for sound engineering technicians was $46,310 as of May 2012.

Master's Degree in Recording Arts

Master's Degrees in Recording arts are commonly, but not always, offered as Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees, offering advanced training in production, recording and integrated electronic media. Degrees in this field also require students to develop strong understandings of related disciplines, including digital animation, computer science, video production and music. As such, these areas are often offered as minors. Students can also expect an emphasis on technologies because they change rapidly in the industry and are essential to the success of its professionals. Because an MFA is a terminal degree and qualifies graduates to teach at a post-secondary level, many programs also offer pedagogical training or teaching opportunities.

Educational Prerequisites

Students must have at least a bachelor's degree to be considered for admission to master's degrees in recording arts. A portfolio of work may also be required and is often given the most weight among application materials; other requirements may include college transcripts, standardized test scores and letters of recommendation.

Program Coursework

Students can expect to log of lot of hours in studios recording actual music sessions, especially in graduate programs. However, a strong understanding of theory is required, so classes such as the following will likely appear in the curriculum:

  • Musical synthesis
  • Multitrack recording
  • Visual aesthetics and technology
  • Recordings in a cultural context
  • Legal rights of creative individuals

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Other common occupation for graduates of this degree is in music directing and composing. While the employment rate for this profession is expected to grow 10% between 2010 and 2020, there will be significant competition for jobs, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for music directors and composers was $47,350 as of May 2012.

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