Sound Technology Education Requirements and Career Information
Sound technology involves recording and manipulating sound waves, which can include spoken words, music or sound effects. Those interested in sound technology will learn about analog and digital recording, how each method works and how to manipulate the resulting sound files. Although there are no specific degree programs for sound technology, those interested in the field typically study audio engineering.
Sound engineers record, mix and reproduce sound files in recording studios or on location. Sound engineers are often needed at concerts, sporting events and television and film sets. Because of the many places in which recordings are used and manipulated, sound engineers' careers can vary greatly depending on their area of concentration. They may engineer recordings of vocal and instrumental music performances; dialogue from theater events, films, or television; radio and television broadcasts; or sound effects for productions or video games.
Formal training typically isn't required for an entry-level position as a sound engineer, although a high school diploma and experience with audio/visual equipment (such as in a school's AV club) is highly recommended. Audio engineering programs are offered at the associate's and bachelor's levels. Those interested in careers in films, radio or television broadcasting or music may complete specialized concentrations in those areas as part of their educations. Sound engineers can obtain voluntary certification through the Society of Broadcast Engineers. Because of continually changing technology, sound engineers may need to complete continuing education or on-the-job training throughout their careers.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, sound engineering technicians can expect a ten percent employment increase from 2010 to 2020, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth is contributed to schools, businesses and radio and TV stations wanting new equipment in order to upgrade their video and audio capabilities. The most growth will be in the area of digital audio technology. According to the BLS, the average yearly salary for sound engineering technicians was $47,080 in May 2010.
Sound editors work in the film and television industries to choose and produce the music and sound effects for motion picture or television productions. They also edit and manipulate dialogue and background sound in order to create or enhance the mood of a film or television show. Some sound editors become film librarians, who are the people responsible for organizing and cataloging sound files and selecting footage for editors.
Those interested in a career as a sound editor can complete a certificate or degree program at a vocational or technical school. However, the most popular degree programs for sound editors are associate's and bachelor's degrees in audio engineering or media production with a concentration in audio or sound engineering. These programs emphasize recording, mixing and mastering techniques and general education.
Sound editors work in the motion picture and television industry. While the BLS didn't list specific job outlook information for sound editors, it did state that those employed as audio and video technicians could expect a 13% employment increase between 2010 and 2020. Typically, sound editors begin in entry-level positions as assistant sound editors or boom operators and learn many of their skills on the job. According to the Career Development Center at the Berklee College of Music, sound technicians earned roughly between $20,000 and $50,000 in 2010.
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