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Is Sound Engineer A Good Career? (Full Guide)

Sound Engineering is a great career choice especially for those with a passion for it, as well as a deep appreciation for technology. Note that, it is a highly competitive field and full-time jobs can be hard to secure; you therefore need to work hard to be unique and good at what you do. Opportunities for part-time independent contractor work are available and can pay as well as formal full-time jobs if you have experience.

With that said, the purpose of this article is to help you understand whether or not sound engineering is the right career for you. To do this I’ll explore various aspects of this topic to afford you foundational knowledge that will aid you in your decision going forward.

While the data that I present here does shed some light on the topic, I have to acknowledge the limitations that come with relying on data to provide concrete facts applicable to every individual out there.

There are a lot of factors that go into a career in sound engineering and outcomes are different for everyone. Therefore use this information to make up your mind but I urge you to also consider your personal situation.

With that said, lets into what sound engineering actually is….

Scope of Sound Engineering

What is Sound Engineering?

To answer this effectively, we have to first answer the common issue associated with this topic:

This issue is basically whether or not sound engineers are real engineers.. So lets define sound engineering.

Sound engineering is a branch of engineering that uses principles of engineering as any other engineering field; however, what makes it different from traditional engineering such as mechanical engineering is its scope and the problems it looks to solve.

In traditional engineering, science and math is applied to create and develop solutions helpful in creating physical systems such as motor engines, bridges, circuit boards etc. In sound engineering however, technique and creativity is used to capture, manipulate and reproduce sound in various contexts such as radio, television, music production, gaming etc.

Therefore, the working definition is as follows; sound engineering is the technical creative process of capturing, manipulating and reproducing of sound through the use of electronic and/or digital equipment with the intent to create high quality audio that conveys the intended vision. Sound engineers rely on their ear’s ability to listen to sound with greater detail and to a deeper degree than the average everyday person.

It is a fascinating field that embraces both creativity and technology.

Importance of sound engineering

Sound engineering is important because it is a high form of creativity that leverages audio equipment and technology to assist in the creation of various types of media such as film, radio, television, music, and video games. Sound engineers are also responsible for setting up audio equipment, conducting thorough sound checks and assessments, performing live sound mixing using specialized equipment such as mixing consoles, digital plugins, audio workstations and other sound enhancing equipment.

Audio engineering equipment is very crucial in getting high quality sound for a range of event including musical concerts, sporting events and corporate events.

Types of sound engineers

Recording engineers

A recording engineer is an engineer whose primary responsibility is to record sound in the best possible way.

Recording engineers not only record and set up studio equipment they basically manage and administer the entire sound recording process by leveraging sound recording principles to achieve the intended sonic and artistic vision.

In music recording studios this usually means coaching artists (especially beginners) through the entire recording process, in motion picture it may mean using the appropriate recording equipment and employing the correct recording principles to record live sounds in the highest possible quality.

Recording engineers are not only restricted to the music and film industry, there can do work in different arenas such as gaming, corporate etc. There are numerous ways in which a recording engineer can make money.

Live Sound Engineers

Live sound engineers specialize in the proper delivery of live sound via audio equipment. They set up and calibrate audio equipment to get the best audio quality in live sound occasions such as events like seminars, music live performances etc.

Live sound engineering is not only about making sure the speakers and the mics are working, it involves the use of acoustic knowledge and knowledge of electronics and using audio equipment to convert captured sound into well-adjusted audio that serves and achieves the specific and direct vision it needs to.

Broadcast Engineers

Broadcast engineers are responsible for ensuring that broadcast audio and other media like images is delivered with the utmost clarity and strength. Broadcast engineering is a unique aspect of sound engineering as it encompasses to an extent, electrical and computer engineering as well as information technology.

A broadcast engineer has to understand electronics when installing and repairing broadcast equipment, they also need to understand computer engineering in order to handle the software and hardware needs that come with computer technology.

Finally, broadcast engineers need a deep understanding of information technology to properly use systems for broadcasting in the storage, retrieval and implementation of information.

Mixing Engineers

Mixing engineers are responsible for the processing of audio into the desired creative vision. Mixing engineers leverage their creativity and call upon digital and physical tools in combining various audio elements into a definitive final version. The main skills that mixing engineers should possess are knowledge of acoustics, knowledge of recording equipment, the knowledge of audio processing equipment and audio workstations (both hardware and software).

Hardware and software equipment is leveraged to get recorded sounds into a desired sonic state, in music recording studios this usually means gathering artists vocals and beginning to execute their artistic vision while apply sound engineering expertise to ensure that the best song is created.

With the advancement of technology over the years, mixing engineers no longer need to depend on physical gear. Mixing can be done solely relying on digital equipment this makes work easier and convenient.

Mastering Engineers

Mastering engineers are responsible for performing the final processing of audio before it can be released to the public. In short, mastering engineers pick up where mixing engineers leave off. They make audio ready for public consumption by ensuring it achieves the correct loudness, making it ready to be played on various sound systems and making sure the best audio output quality is achieved.

In addition to mastering skills, mastering engineers should also possess the skills that mixing engineers possess in order for them to understand the entire process that leads to mastering.

Post-Production Engineers

The main role of Post production engineers is to provide technical support to the creative department of a company or organization throughout the post production process. Their job, simply put, is to understand the creative requirements of the content and provide the technical support needed to achieve those creative requirements.

In motion picture this usually means handling the technical bits of the film creation process after all the recording and shooting is done. Post production engineers will edit the media to ensure that the creative vision is achieved e.g. color correction, soundtrack choosing and addition etc.

Systems Engineers

The main role of systems engineers is to install, optimize, maintain and be able to breakdown sound systems used in live performances. But isn’t that what live sound engineers do? Well the answer is yes and no. Live sound engineers solely focus on the delivery of high quality audio through the use of equipment. What systems engineers do is ensuring that the right equipment is used in achieving the predefined audio experience.

This usually means designing the equipment to be used and how it is to be used. After this, the live sound engineer uses their expertise to ensure all equipment is used to the best of its ability.

Job Growth and Salary Statistics in Sound Engineering

Sound Engineering Job Growth data

There have been several changes in the job growth statistics of sound engineering as a career over the past years. I assessed data from 2012 to 2021 in order to have a large enough data set that can help us make predictions as well as career recommendations for the future.

Data acquired from Zippia regarding job growth is as follows:

Between 2012 and 2021, there was a decline in the number of sound engineering jobs.

In 2012 the estimated number of jobs in sound engineering were 12,387, in 2021 however, the number of jobs in sound engineering were around 9,796.

This means there was a 21% decline in the number of jobs in the field of sound engineering which is roughly a 2.3% decline in job demand every year.

However this number is not static because the data assessed only covers a sample size of 9 years; however it is fair to make the judgement that the demand for Sound Engineers hasn’t changed much over the years.

It is also fair to say that it is quite a competitive career path.

According to Recruiter.com the overall job demand for Sound Engineering hasn’t changed much since 2004 and even though there has been a notable decrease in the demand over the past few years. They predict that job demand will slowly rise in the coming years.

This is good news for those looking to get into sound engineering but it’s also important to understand what this actually means. As the job demand increases, so will the overall competition in this job market. Therefore it’s important to exercise caution and continue to assess the developing job trends in sound engineering.

Salary statistics in sound engineering

The overall decline in the demand for sound engineering in the past years has of course increased the average annual salary thanks to the law of demand and supply.

I’ve used 2012 to 2021 Salary data acquired from Zippia to analyze salary trends in this career.

The overall data conclusions are as follows:

In 2012 the estimated annual salary for sound engineers was $48,391 with an estimated hourly rate of $23.27. In 2021, the estimated annual salary for sound engineers was $54,674 with an hourly rate of $26.29.

This means that from 2012 to 2021 the average annual salary of sound engineers has increased by roughly 10% to 12 % while the hourly rate has increased by roughly the same percentage.

With that said, we can fairly say that the implications of this increase in the annual salary and hourly rate; is that sound engineering will continue to be a competitive field.

Therefore anyone aspiring to get into this career should take time to learn more about the competitiveness of sound engineering. This can help you understand the terrain better and make concrete decisions based on solid information.

Sound Engineers as Independent contractors

The above statistics cover the formal employment part of a career in sound engineering however, we cannot ignore the fact that most sound engineers are solopreneurs that work for hire.

Independent contractors in sound engineering are very common because getting a formal job is quite competitive as you can obviously figure out by looking at the statistics above.

The huge advantage for sound engineers that work as independent contractors is that they can make more per client because they have negotiating power.

Most independent contractors in this field can charge as high as $40 to $50 per hour of work put in and they can make more by offering incentives to clients that they can’t otherwise offer if they work a 9 to 5 job.

Ziprecruiter puts the average annual revenue of sound engineers operating as independent contractors at $73,884.

Industries with the highest levels of employment in sound engineering

The Sound Recording industry

The sound recording industry consists of establishments that are primarily engaged in record production. Such establishments contract with artists and help them produce original master recordings.

This is one industry that has shown higher levels of employment as far as sound engineering goes. Those that are looking to get into sound engineering can look to get into an industry like this by getting familiar with the employment requirements and build skills relevant to these requirements.

The Motion Picture and Video Industries

The motion picture and video industry consist of establishments or companies that are primarily engaged in the production of motion picture accompanied by audio such as movies, TV shows, commercial video advertisements etc. This industry in the past was primarily known for film but in this day and age the motion picture industry has diversified into different forms of video content.

Motion picture is a staple industry and will always be in demand for sound engineers. However competition is stiff and unless you can prove your competence as a sound engineer for video-form content it can be difficult to get employment in this industry.

The Radio and Television Broadcasting

The broadcasting industry consists of media companies with a primary focus on broadcasting. These include Radio, TV companies, Networks and as of 2004, podcasting.

This industry will forever be in need of sound engineers and audio technicians that can exhibit creativity in the delivery of audio to listeners and viewers who are the primary consumer.

Colleges, Universities and Professional Skills

The professional skills of sound engineers are also sought out so others can benefit from them. Colleges and universities show a high level of demand for professional and qualified sound engineers.

The barrier to entry here can be quite high and without professional qualifications and experience, getting into this industry can prove difficult.

Scientific and Technical Consulting

This industry usually employs or works with sound engineers in the design, development and building of audio technology. In this industry, expertise is highly relied upon and credentials really matter because you’ll not only be consulting as a sound engineer, you’ll also be part of product development.

States with the highest level of employment

Finding employment as a sound engineer heavily depends on your location. In the U.S, states with the highest employment level in Sound Engineering are California, New York, Texas, Tennessee and Florida.

If you’re outside the U.S, this information may seem useless but it is not. Knowing that some states or cities in your country will hire more sound engineers than others is enough information to help you figure out the best course of action.

I therefore urge you to contact the bureau labor of statistics in your country and look for this information. You can also run a simple google search like “sound engineering jobs in *country*” or “sound engineering jobs in *city*” or “sound engineering jobs in *state*”

You can also go to Job Websites in your country and search for sound engineering jobs (both current and past) this can help you get a good idea of employment demand levels in different cities and states in your country..

Top Paying States for sound engineers

As a sound engineer, how much you make is of vital importance and will heavily depend on your location. In the U.S, the top paying states in Sound Engineering are New York, New Jersey, Georgia, District of Columbia and Massachusetts.

If you’re outside the U.S, this information may seem useless but it is not. Knowing that some states or cities in your country will pay sound engineers better than others is enough information to help you figure out the best course of action.

I therefore urge you to contact the bureau labor of statistics in your country and look for this information. You can also run a simple google search like “sound engineering salaries in *country*” or “sound engineering salaries in *city*” or “sound engineering salaries in *state*”

You can also go to Job Websites in your country and search for sound engineering jobs and check salary offers in different cities or states. This can be a good indication of what to expect as ballpark numbers.

Characteristics of Top Paying High Employment Level States in Sound Engineering

These are some of the characteristics of the top paying states with the highest employment level. This information is helpful for those of you in countries other than the US because it will help you identify what to essentially look for when assessing the best state for you to settle in and pursue your career as a sound engineer.

Thriving economies

The top paying states as well as the states with high employment levels all share one fundamental characteristic and that is; they have thriving economies. States that show promise for business as a result of a high productivity (output per worker), high investment, opportunities for different people, high levels of wealth etc.… will essentially be more willing to employ more people as well as pay them well.

As someone aspiring to be a sound engineer its worth assessing such states and coming up with a list of the states that show characteristics of a thriving economy. Sound engineering is a competitive field and being in a state with a bad economy will make it even more challenging to find work.

Business Friendly Laws

Top paying states as well as high employing states have another key characteristic; they have business friendly laws.

Some examples of business friendly laws are friendly tax laws, good employment laws, good online business laws, good advertising and marketing laws etc.

Such laws are fundamental in the smooth operation of business, as such, many companies and entrepreneurs set up shop in such states or cities because they make it easy to do business in them.

It’s therefore important that you do your due diligence and look for states with a number of existing companies that have continued to thrive, pay employees well and hire employees at a reasonable pace.

Another key thing to look for here are states or cities that have a huge number of new companies entering the market.

If a state or city has low barrier to entry policies and friendly business laws then it will have a large number of new entrants into its market. Therefore look out for this trend and take note.

Strong finance sector

States and cities with a strong finance sector will have no trouble hiring employees as well as paying them well.

For the purposes of this article, I shall describe what a financial sector is so you don’t go through the trouble of looking it up on your own.

The Financial Sector is made up of businesses that offer financial services and manage money, examples of such businesses include banks, credit unions, insurance Companies, credit card companies etc.

Now that we have that out of the way, below are four ways in which financial services are evaluated (you can use these benchmarks when researching states and cities in your country where you could likely pursue sound engineering):

Financial depth

In the simplest of terms, financial depth is essentially the size of the financial sector relative to the economy.

To simplify this further, financial depth is how big the financial services (banks, credit unions etc.) are compared to the economy.

States with a bigger financial depth will have a lot of entrepreneurship, development, business and a high level of employment. Such states will also exhibit relatively higher average annual salaries across various industries.

You can access such financial information from your central bank whether physically or online.

If you’re looking to do it online run a google search of “Financial depth of *state or city*, *country”

Access (Financial Inclusion)

Another way you can measure the finance sector strength of a state is by assessing its overall financial access.

In the simplest of terms, financial access is simply the ability of individuals and firms in a specific state or city or economy to access financial services such as loans from banks or credit unions etc.

Thriving states with strong financial sectors will have a lot of financial service businesses. For example, a city with only 2 banks is relatively weaker financially compared to a city with over 10 banks.

Therefore ensure that you figure out how much financial access is available various states when coming up with a list of states you would likely settle in while pursuing your sound engineering career.

Financial Efficiency

An economy just doesn’t need to have access to financial services; these financial services have to be efficient otherwise inefficiency may likely spread to households and businesses.

In simpler terms, financial services in a state or country have to be smooth enough otherwise the effects of them being the opposite creates bad effects that trickle down to other industries.

When looking at states it’s highly essential that you take note of the overall performance of financial services. You can do this with a simple google search.

Financial services are efficient when they are; able to offer financial services at reasonable cost to the client or customer, able to be profitable etc.


Another way to assess the financial strength of any country or state is the stability of its financial system.

A financial system that is stable is one that is stable with regard to how it operates. For example, a bank; before offering you a loan, should do its due diligence to determine your eligibility as well assess risk, this would be called stability.

Once you determine that a state or city is financially efficient you can be sure that it is also stable because efficiency doesn’t come before stability.

Growing technology

States excelling at technology both in embracing it and applying it will be always in the market for employees. Therefore it’s wise to pay attention to states or cities in your country that are rapidly growing with technology because this is a good sign that you might easily find a sound engineering job especially that it is a technologically dependent field.

Well educated workforce

Another characteristic of high paying and high employing states is that they always have a well-educated workforce. High education levels usually mean many employment opportunities in most thriving economies.

You can therefore be sure that there’s a demand for labor in a state if it has a well-educated workforce.  

Significant economic and political influence

Another key characteristic of high paying and high employing states is that they have significant economic and political influence which makes them superior compared to other states.

Such states also usually have a high wealth and income level.

Job Growth and Salary statistics conclusion

The job growth statistics in sound engineering suggest that it is a highly competitive and lucrative field. You therefore need both skill and the ability to develop your resume even outside formal employment.

For most people, this means looking for gigs as an independent contractor. In this day and age however, one can go a step further and start creating content online showing their skills.

Other than that we can fairly say that it is wise to carry out a thorough assessment of the country you’re in to figure out whether or not it is the right place for a sound engineering career.

Therefore it’s safe to say sound engineering can be good career for highly skilled individuals that are in the right demographic.

Education and Training for Sound Engineering

Formal Education

Education and training in sound engineering is offered by several colleges and universities. It is up to you figure out which industry of sound engineering you want to work in so you can choose the appropriate training to pursue.

Most diploma and degree programs have a primary focus this is why it helps to know which branch of sound engineering you want to venture into and then figuring out the correlating program to help you achieve that.

I see many questions online that inquire into whether or not it is necessary to have formal qualification in sound engineering so let me tackle this.

In sound engineering proficiency matters more than anything, you need to prove yourself to establish a good reputation that can get you paid for the rest of your life. This is not to say formal qualifications in sound engineering don’t matter, they do and some industries won’t hire engineers without formal qualifications. It all comes down to how well you can negotiate and the value of your actual offering.

Diplomas in sound engineering

Most people with a passion for sound engineering usually start here because it’s the easiest way to get a foot in the door. Through a diploma program you can easily receive your proof of ability in sound engineering.

The usual duration for such programs ranges between 6 months to 2 years depending on the course work and the program itself (Learn more about how long it takes to study sound engineering).

Over the course of this time students would have covered Fundamentals of Audio Engineering, Sound Design & Synthesis, Principles of sound, Recording/Microphone Techniques, Studio Techniques, Principles of Sound, Physics behind Musical Instruments, The Power of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Surface), Music Theory and Ear Training ….and many other important subjects.

Most people after attaining their diploma are advised to get into an internship program to help them understand the dynamics of their field better. This is great advice because like I earlier mentioned, one of the key things that matters the most in sound engineering is your proficiency and ability to engineer.

Some people are lucky enough to find permanent paying gigs after internships which could secure them for a bright future in sound engineering.

Degrees in sound engineering

A degree in sound engineering is a pretty big deal and can be the start of a fruitful future in this field.

The general duration of a sound engineering degree program is 4 years.

Over the course of this time students would have covered Fundamentals of Audio Engineering, Audio Production, Arranging, Music Business and Styles, Live Sound, Electronic Music and Keyboard Techniques, Sound Design & Synthesis, Principles of sound, Recording/Microphone Techniques, Ear Training, Studio Techniques, Principles of Sound, Physics behind Musical Instruments, The Power of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Surface), Music Theory and Ear Training ….and many other important subjects.

Women in sound engineering

The sound engineering industry only accounts for around 10% of women. This then leaves the question, can and should women do sound engineering?

The short answer is yes. Women can get into sound engineering and do exceptionally well. Sound engineering is not a gender specific career, it is a skill specific career. Your gender doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not you can get the job done.

Pros and cons of going to school for sound engineering

Pros of going to school for sound engineering
  • You have a true blueprint and foundational knowledge to help you go from beginner to expert in the most structured way so you do not leave any stone unturned, you’re not skipping. You’re leveraging the systemic way of learning sound engineering.
  • You have points of contact of people that can actually help you when you have questions and topics that you need to understand better or are struggling with.
  • Sound engineering school provides opportunities for unique ways of learning by bringing industry and certified sound engineers that can provide you with real valuable lessons that can only be learnt from experience e.g. Q & A Sessions, breaking down a live mix.
Cons of going to school for sound engineering
  • You don’t have a guaranteed job after graduating.
  • It generally costs a lot of money
  • Few paid internship opportunities
  • You may be learning a lot of information that you may never really use in the studio environment.
  • You’ll spend 2 to 4 years to get your degree but if you spent a year teaching and learning consistently about sound engineering via mentors, books, YouTube and courses you could be far ahead.

Informal education (Self Taught)

It’s also worth mentioning that you can go the self-taught route to becoming a sound engineer, which is the alternative for those that are not looking to pursue it formally.

The self-taught route involves learning the craft on your own either through self-teaching, apprenticeships and online courses etc.

I have to mention that going the self-taught route in sound engineering isn’t easy and will require a lot of dedication, persistence, and a willingness to learn.

With hard work and passion you can become a successful engineer. With that said let’s get into some of the things you should look to learn as a sound engineer looking to learn the trade on their own.

4 things to do as an aspiring self-taught sound engineer

Learn the basics

If you want to become exceptional in any field you have to learn and understand its principles. The principles of any field are the foundational tenets that explain all its facets/components.

You should take it upon yourself to investigate sound engineering principles and understand them. To understand them you need to see how they apply and know how they work.

Understand the gear

Sound engineering is a field that heavily relies on equipment. To be an effective sound engineer you need to understand gear and know how to use it. This takes some doing but is doable.

An online crash course in sound engineering can certainly help you understand what equipment you’ll need, how it works and how to use it.

If you cannot afford a course, a 9 hour binge watch of YouTube tutorials can certainly help you move further in your learning curve. 

Build a Home Studio

Anyone who aspires to become a sound engineer should build a home studio for a number of reasons. The first is that you need to learn what it takes to build one.

The second reason is that you need to have your own set up that you can practice on.

The better you become and the more you learn about sound engineering the more you’ll improve the sound engineering studio. As a beginner it’s just important to get all the basic gear you need in order to not hinder your progression due to a lack of equipment or workstation

Work with pros

When you decide to learn sound engineering on your own you pretty much sign up to become a lifelong learner. As such it’s important to learn from people who know their stuff. My advice is that you find someone already doing sound engineering and are good at it. Then ask to be their intern for free.

You may be wondering why I just asked you to work for free, the simple answer is this; in the early stages of your career you don’t need money. You need skills. And unless you have those skills you won’t be as valuable to your mentors.

Therefore the smart choice is working for free but making sure you LEARN and LEARN and LEARN!!!

Working with pros will give you in an inside look into the job, its demands and what is necessary to fulfill the wishes of clients.

This exposure will allow you discover the various ways of making money as an audio engineer.

Pros & Cons of going the Self-Taught Route

Pros of teaching yourself sound engineering
  • It’s cheaper
  • You can learn at your own pace
  • Can you save time
Cons of teaching yourself sound engineering
  • You don’t have a structured way of learning which can be messy and time consuming.
  • You can’t be sure whether the people or person you’re learning from actually knows what they’re talking about.
  • You never really have a full time mentor who can guide and hand-hold you through your journey.

Skill Requirements of Sound Engineers

Below are some of the skills that Sound Engineers should have

Technical Expertise

Perhaps one of the important skills sound engineers should have is a deep knowledge of the technical aspects of sound engineering which revolve around equipment. As a sound engineer you need to know sound equipment well that is, its strengths and weaknesses. Such equipment includes microphones, mixing consoles, audio hardware, audio software (Digital Audio Workstations etc.), speakers and amplifiers.

You should know this equipment well enough to troubleshoot technical problems without much difficulty. You also need to understand the application of this equipment and how to get the most out of it.


Acoustics is a fundamental piece in sound engineering even though it is overlooked by most beginner sound engineers who jump directly into working with Digital Audio Stations and equipment.

However, an understanding of acoustics is essential in understanding how to manipulate sound and audio into the desired state.

Sound engineers should, for example; understand room acoustics to know the ramifications that come with working in certain environments and the principles that need to be followed and implemented to get the best possible outcome.

Computer skills

Gone are the days when technology was in its infancy. These days almost all audio production is being carried out on computers especially in the sound recording industry.

The advancement of digital technology has made sound engineers learn and master their way around digital audio equipment necessary for the production of audio.

As a matter of fact, the Audio Engineering Society in 2020 carried out a survey in which they found that nearly 75% of sound engineers use computers for digital recording and mixing. This is enough to conclude that computer skills are necessary for anyone looking to sound engineering as a career.


Creativity is a fundamental piece whenever art is made, as a result sound engineers need creativity in their skill stack because only that can truly separate their work from others.

We are all different as human beings and what makes you different from me also makes you unique. That right there is what makes everyone special.

Sound engineers need to possess creativity in the way they handle audio and sound so as to bring a unique and innovative approach to audio production.

Attention to detail

Sound engineering is a delicate art that requires a deep level of attention to make the right decisions to achieve the required vision. As such, sound engineers should be able to focus and concentrate because half their job is hearing sound and audio elements that others can’t.

This is one of the reasons why ear training is essential training for sound engineers.

Audio Manipulation

Sound engineers should possess audio manipulation skills to help in their work because sound engineering requires creativity flexibility in order to have versatile control over sound.

In order to work efficiently, it’s not enough knowing how Audio Workstations work, it’s also vital to understand the various dynamics and principles of audio manipulation that can be employed in the delivery of the desired outcome.

For example, a mixing engineer needs to know how to use compressors to control dynamic range in audio, they also need to know how noise processors to tame or get rid of unwanted audio artifacts etc..

In the case of live audio, sound engineers need to understand audio well enough to know how to deliver it in a live setting.

Music theory

You don’t need to be a musician to be a sound engineer, but you do need some music theory training to develop an understanding of music.

Music is language for musicians. As someone whose job is to work closely with musicians, music theory provides a shared language that can be used to communicate ideas.

Not only that, music theory is also essential when choosing instruments and is also a good tool for quality control.

With music theory, engineers can identify issues with musical compositions such as pitch problems, dissonance and many other issues. This can help achieve the artistic vision.

Signals and Flow

In order to optimize audio systems to get the most out of them sound engineers need to understand the flow of audio signals within sound systems including inputs, processing, routing and outputs.

They should be able to troubleshoot signal flow problems and optimize it for the best possible sound.

Sound Engineering vs. Other Related Careers

Music Production

Music producers oversee the entire process of creating a piece of music, from songwriting and composition to recording and mixing. While sound engineers focus on the technical aspects of recording and mixing, music producers also work on the major creative side of music production.

Music producers collaborate with artists on a creative basis to help them achieve their desired sound and help them make decisions and choices about the final mix.

Music Producer Expertise required:

  • Music Theory and Production
  • Excellent communication and leadership skills.
  • Music producers must have a good ear for sound as well as a technical one to properly communicate with engineers as well as work well with artists and other professionals in the industry.

Opportunities for employment

Music producers can pretty much work in a variety of settings and aren’t restricted to the sound recording industry alone.

They can work in recording studios, record labels, and film and TV production companies.

Pros of Music Production as a Career

  • Opportunities to work with talented musicians.
  • Ability to help shape the sound of a recording, potential for high earnings, and the ability to work on a wide range of projects.

Cons of music production as a career

  • Highly competitive industry.
  • Long and irregular hours.
  • A lot of pressure to produce successful recordings.

Foley Artists

Foley artists are the behind-the-scenes guys who create sound effects for film and television by recording and manipulating everyday life objects such as wind and rain to create the sounds that are heard on screen.

While sound engineers focus on capturing and mixing audio, Foley artists work on the creative aspect of the sound design.

Foley Artist Expertise required:

  • A strong background in sound design and music production, as well as creativity and attention to detail
  • Foley artists must be able to create realistic sound effects using a variety of everyday objects

Opportunities for employment

Foley artists primarily work in the film and television industry, although they may also work in advertising and video game production.

Pros of Foley Artist as a career

  • Ability to work on creative projects
  • There’s potential for high earnings
  • The ability to work with a variety of sound equipment and props

Cons of Foley Artist as a career

  • Highly competitive industry
  • Long hours
  • You need to be constantly inventive with sound effects.

Acoustical engineers

The main responsibilities of acoustical designers is to design and develop sound systems and spaces, including concert halls, recording studios, and home theaters.

They heavily rely on physics and engineering principles to create environments that are optimized for sound quality and are responsible for ensuring that sound systems perform to a high standard.

Acoustical Engineer Expertise required

  • A strong technical background in physics and engineering, as well as good communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to design and optimize sound spaces and systems.

 Opportunities for employment:

Acoustical engineers work primarily in the construction and design industries, with opportunities in architecture, engineering, and consulting firms.

Pros of acoustical designer as a career

  • Ability to design and optimize sound spaces
  • There’s potential for high earnings
  • The ability to work on a variety of projects.

Cons of a career as acoustical designer

  • Highly technical work
  • Requires an advanced degree
  • May involve long and irregular hours.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Career in Sound Engineering

Advantages of a Career in Sound Engineering

Creative Expression

A career in sound engineering offers the opportunity for creative expression. Sound engineers work to create sounds that are unique and meaningful. They use their creativity to enhance the quality of the sound and produce something that is both technically and aesthetically pleasing.

Variety of work

Sound engineering is a diverse field that offers a wide range of work opportunities. Sound engineers can work in music studios, film studios, radio stations, television stations, and live events. The diversity of work options allows sound engineers to choose a field that matches their interests and preferences.

High Demand

The entertainment industry is always in demand for sound engineers. Music artists, filmmakers, and television producers require the expertise of sound engineers to produce quality sounds for their projects. As such, sound engineers are in high demand, and the profession is expected to grow in the coming years.

Lucrative Pay

Sound engineers can earn a good salary. Their pay depends on their level of experience, the type of project they work on, and the industry they work in. Sound engineers who work on high-budget projects or in large-scale industries can earn a considerable amount of money.

Job satisfaction

Sound engineers work behind the scenes, but their work is crucial in the production of quality sound. They take pride in their work and enjoy seeing the final product of their labor. This brings job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment to the sound engineer.

Disadvantages of a Career in Sound Engineering

Long Working Hours: Sound engineering projects often require long working hours. This is particularly true for live events and recording sessions that require a lot of time and effort to produce quality sound. As such, sound engineers may have to work long hours, including weekends and holidays.

High Pressure

Sound engineering is a high-pressure job that requires attention to detail, precision, and patience. Sound engineers work to produce sounds that meet the expectations of their clients, which can be demanding and stressful.

Technical Expertise

Sound engineering is a technical field that requires a deep understanding of sound equipment, software, and tools. Sound engineers must keep up with the latest technology advancements and continuously learn to remain relevant in their field.

Competitive Industry

The entertainment industry is highly competitive, and sound engineering is no exception. There are many sound engineers in the industry, and competition for jobs can be intense. As such, sound engineers must work hard to build their reputation and establish a network of clients and colleagues.

Inconsistent Income

Sound engineering projects can be unpredictable, and income can be inconsistent. Sound engineers may work on a project for weeks or months, and then there may be a break before the next project comes along. As such, sound engineers must budget their income and prepare for periods of low or no work.

The Future of Sound Engineering

It is fair to say that technology is always growing and we are not only the users of technology but we are also the people that are witnessing the shifts in the tech space.

In the 60s, if you walked up to somebody and told them we would have self-driving cars in the future, they would have walked away laughing. In truth, we owe a big “you told us so” to the scientists such as Turing who predicted rapid growth in technology.

A Sci-fi writer in the 1960’s called Isaac Asimov predicted that future cars would have robot brains and back then his guess would have seemed a tad bit too much but fast forward to now, thanks to Elon Musk, we have self-driving cars.

We can therefore agree that technology is an ever growing industry that affects all of us and the work we do.

Sound engineers being heavily reliant on technology should always keep an eye out for technology, embrace it when it arrives and use it improve workflow.

Manufactures of audio equipment will keep on working to ensure that their products are more efficient and we are already witnessing this in wireless technology. As we go into the future we are going to witness more and more changes.

Emerging trends in Sound Engineering

Cloud based production tools

There are various cloud based production tools that have made their way into audio production. We have digital audio workstations that can be cloud accessed and used without them actually being stored on computers.

We also have other cloud based tools like audio subscription services like Splice and LoopCloud where producers can shop around for digital tools that they can use in their production.

Live Audio

Live audio broadcasting such as podcasts have become a rapidly growing industry and have completely changed the landscape for sound engineering. This is a fairly new industry and people are just figuring it out.

Thanks to this industry many social media platforms have revisited the live audio integration capabilities of their products.

It is safe to say that audio engineers should be able to follow technology and understand it rapidly in order to thrive.

Meta verse

The Metaverse is a virtual idea of the world where we move around as avatars and the only thing that we have close to reality is our voice.

As such technologies become more advanced and embraced by society, audio and sound engineers will be tasked with delivering the best possible audio experience to these technologies.

It is therefore wise for sound engineers to take it upon themselves to embrace technologies that have the possibility of changing the way sound engineering is done because we have no idea how far technology will take us in the future.

Spatial Audio

Spatial audio or 3D audio effects is a form of audio that mimics thearter-esque sound which provides a deep 3D immersion of the audio experience.

It is a form of new and emerging technology that has been embraced by various audio services like Apple music. Spatial audio pretty much takes 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos; applies directionality which adjusts frequencies that each ear hears so that sounds are placed virtually anywhere in 3D Space.

This technology is still in the process of being widely applied but I can firmly say that it will be. Some musicians have already embraced this form of technology and are recording songs in Spatial Audio.

What this means for sound engineers is that, traditional sound engineering is being rapidly combined with technology to enhance the listeners experience.

As such, it is wise for sound engineers to pay attention to advances in technology that will become the norm in the future.

5 Things to do to prepare for a career in Sound Engineering 


To be ready for a sound engineering career you need to learn the craft and become the best at it. To do this you have various options.

You can get into a good school for sound engineering and enroll for a diploma or degree program that can help you gain the foundational knowledge as well principles that govern the trade.

There many advantages to doing this and I’ve discussed them in the Education and Training section of this post. You can check the table of contents to navigate straight to that section.

Alternatively, you can choose to teach yourself sound engineering. The self-taught route can be a challenging way to learn about engineering but it can also be a rewarding experience.

I have to say however that, if you’re planning to go to sound engineering school, you should already be learning it and immersing yourself in it. The reason for this is simple, sound engineering is a hands on craft and you’ll learn more from doing that sitting in a classroom.

On that note, the very first step for somebody considering a career in sound engineering is getting the appropriate training however you can.

Networking and Building Experience

Experience is a vital piece in any career because it is the one thing that provides proof that you can actually do the job.

You need to gain experience and one way to do that is learning from established sound engineers.

The best way to do this is to network as much as you work on your craft in order to learn about the industry and possibly avoid mistakes that others have made.

Networking can open doors, it can get you your first apprenticeship, internship and paid gig. Therefore it’s wise to network so you can gain some experience by working with others.

Picking a niche

To preprare for a career in sound engineering it is also essential that you pick a niche and double down on that.

You should know what industry you want to work in.

Once you choose the area you want to work in, double down on learning everything you can learn about that industry. Also focus all your networoking activities towards that area.

It doesn’t make sense to make a bunch of music contacts when your focus area is motion picture.

Building a strong portfolio

Like I’ve talked about throughout this article, building a strong portfolio is what will get you in the door and grow your career.

Make sure you gather enough case studies around your work with clients because each of them will provide additional proof of your abilities.

The more case studies you have, the more people will find it easy to work with you.

So make sure you take note of every client project you work on. Do a great job so they can spread news about the quality of service you offered them.

Keeping up with industry trends

The sound engineering industry is heavily reliant on technology; as such it will keep growing at a rapid pace. As someone aspiring to pursue a career in this field, it is essential that you keep up with industry trends.

As the industry continues to grow, its demands will shift and you’ll need to be aware of these shifts in order for you to modify your work strategy accordingly.


In conclusion, sound engineering is a good career for creative people that have an entrepreneurial drive with a genuine passion for this field.

Is Sound Engineer A Good Career? (Full Guide)

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