Over the years, audio engineering and sound engineering have come to refer to two distinctly different career tracks in the audio industry. Audio engineers on the production side of the industry work in audio rooms, mixing, dubbing, and creating the sound effects and fine touches that create a memorable movie or CD. Audio engineers on the tech side, meanwhile, work on the production and care of the audio equipment that makes audio production and recording possible. However, the majority of the time the term “audio engineer” refers to the former not the latter, and that’s why audio engineering schools focus primarily on teaching students how to create the best audio tracks possible.
What does an audio engineer do?
Because of their diverse abilities and the vital part they play in the media, audio engineers are needed in nearly every industry. From TV and movies, to CD and radio, audio engineers make the transmission and translation of sound, atmosphere, and music possible. They’re a vital part of any production and tend to work in groups, especially on larger productions such as movies.
In order to handle all of the tasks required of them, as well as the sensitive, hi-tech equipment used to make it all possible, audio engineers must first receive the right education and training from an audio engineering school. There they’ll learn all about the equipment — patch bays, mixing consoles, dynamic processors, audio cable connectors, audio monitors, mics, and samplers — and how to mix and redub audio to perfection.
How much do audio engineers get paid and what kinds of audio engineering jobs can I get?
Naturally, you’re curious as to how much audio engineers get paid for all their hard work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2006, the median annual earnings for sound engineering technicians was $43,010, with the top 10 percent in the field raking in more than $90,770 and the bottom 10 percent earning less than $21,050.
Though the audio engineering field is not the biggest — the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that somewhere in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 people are currently employed in it — the potential for growth is there. In fact, the government projects that employment within audio engineering and related occupations is expected to increase by 17 percent between 2006 and 2016. Sound engineering technicians in particular, will see a nine percent increase in employment during the same period.
Audio engineers are needed in practically every media industry — whether it’s to dub a television show, mix a movie soundtrack, or help create the latest hit CD — so you’ll find quite a few options when it comes to finding a job. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does warn that job competition for audio engineers in urban areas can be very fierce since salaries are higher and the applicants are highly qualified.