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Audio Technician Training Programs and Requirements

Audio technicians, also known as sound engineers, install and operate audio systems and associated components. These parts include sound mixing boards, microphones, speakers and peripheral equipment. Audio technicians frequently use computer-based tools to process, monitor, mix and produce broadcasts, productions and sound effects.

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Audio Technician Certificate Program Overview

Technical institutes, community colleges and vocational schools typically offer certificates and associate degrees in audio technology. Audio engineering certificate programs generally require 9-12 months for completion. Classroom instruction and practical training exercises in state-of-the-art studios teach aspiring audio technicians how to manipulate audio signals and electronic systems that manage sound. No prerequisites exist for certificate programs in this field. However, familiarity with information technology and electronics could be helpful, since most related work uses computers and a variety of electrical and mechanical equipment.

Course Topics

Students learn to use audio technology tools, such as musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) sequencing, digital audio workstations (DAWs), audio processors and microphones. Common coursework covers the following topics:

  • Equalizer design
  • Recording techniques
  • Console operation
  • Dynamic processor design
  • Analog and digital signal flow
  • Audio mixing techniques
  • ProTools application
  • Live sound reinforcement

Popular Career Options

Sound engineering or audio technician certificate programs prepare students for careers involving the manipulation of sounds and systems for recording, live environments and multimedia applications. Graduates can pursue careers in film, television, advertising, radio and theatre, among others. Some common job titles include:

  • Audio system installer
  • Live sound engineer
  • Recording engineer

Associate's Degree Program in Audio Production and Engineering

Audio technology training involves the theoretical and applied concepts of studio and computer recording, sound design, synthesis, acoustical system design, maintenance and operation. Students can often customize an associate's degree program to meet their individual needs by selecting concentration topics, such as music, computer science and business management. Programs often have students produce a portfolio that showcases the artistic and technical skills learned. Some programs incorporate internships into the curricula to give students a chance to put what they learn into practice. Applicants generally only need a high school education to enroll.

Course Topics

Students learn fundamental and advanced techniques in sound manipulation and the practical use of contemporary audio technologies. In addition to general education classes, common coursework includes the following:

  • Audio production
  • Sound system design
  • Audio recording
  • Audio mixing techniques
  • Architectural acoustics
  • Music business
  • DAW applications

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for sound engineering technicians in 2010 was $47,080 (www.bls.gov). The most jobs in this field tend to be found in large metropolitan areas where the entertainment industry thrives, such as New York and Los Angeles, but competition is quite heavy in these areas. The BLS expected jobs in this field to grow by eight percent between 2008 and 2018.


Bachelor's Degree Program in Audio Production

A bachelor's degree program in audio production generally takes four years. Students learn to create, record, manipulate and process sound in a variety of environments, such as the recording studio, live venues and digital media formats. Some programs offer internships with entertainment companies or offer in-house state-of the-art recording studios that allow students to gain hands-on experience. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for entry into this degree program.

Course Topics

Typical coursework covers theoretical and practical applications of audio production techniques, tools and acoustics. Common classes cover these topics:

  • Audio theory
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Studio recording
  • Live sound recording
  • Synthesis and signal processing
  • Audio systems

Continuing Education

DigiDesign ProTools certifications are common credentials earned by students and professionals in this field. ProTools DAW is the industry-standard audio recording and editing tool, and certification could increase the employability of an audio technician considerably. Certification as an audio engineer is also available through the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). Requirements vary depending on the level of certification.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics