So, you have a deep interest in music. You read books and watched videos on how music is produced. Or maybe you and your band have recorded that awesome demo the other day, and thought to yourself, “I think I should be looking into careers in audio engineering!”.
Before you take the next step of enrolling into that audio engineering school you have always
dreamed of, take some time to ask yourself these questions:
- What is audio engineering?
- What are the career opportunities available?
- Is this what I had imagined myself doing?
To put it simply, an audio engineer is responsible for the manipulation, recording, mixing, reproduction and reinforcement of sound. There are various technologies and equipment that audio engineers constantly use in their daily work, to produce sound for radio, television, music, electronic products and also in computer games.
The sound reinforcement systems that are largely seen in concerts and outdoor sporting events, also require the skills and expertise of a sound engineer; or some may refer to them as sound technicians as well.
An audio engineer may also be known as someone who has a deep, academic background in science or engineering, and is involved in the design and development of new audio technologies. These engineers are often working within the field of acoustical engineering.
Careers in Audio Engineering
Hurray! After all the hard work you put in, the much awaited graduation ceremony is finally here. You could now call yourself an Audio Engineer! But wait, what jobs are available out there? Where do I start? Am I qualified for them?
In a broad sense, it is quite safe to put audio engineers into two distinct categories:
- Research and Development
Research and Development
Inventing new technologies, equipment and techniques in the world of audio, are the things that audio engineers working in this field care about the most. Designing acoustical simulations of rooms, shaping algorithms for audio signal processing, tweaking of public address systems, carrying out research on audible sound for video game console manufacturers, are just some of the tasks that such audio engineers are involved in.
Audio Engineers wanting to work in this industry, are generally required to have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification in acoustics, physics, computer science or other relevant engineering disciplines. There are courses in university or college that provides training in the use of audio creatively as a sound engineer, and that usually includes music recording and mixing, or live sound.
However, these courses do not provide enough mathematical and scientific content to allow you to pursue a career in research and development in the audio and acoustic industry.
If you do decide to go down this career path, you could expect to work in acoustic consultancy (specializing in architectural acoustics), other audio companies (eg. speaker manufacturer), industries that require audio expertise (eg. automobile manufacturer) or even as a researcher in a university.
I would say that from my experience, this is what most people are thinking of when we talk about live sound engineers. The people who are always standing behind large consoles, constantly fiddling with knobs, faders and are usually seen in music festivals or concerts.
An audio engineer in this field could be described as someone who is heavily involved in the technical aspect of recording such as microphone techniques, gain structural adjustment or even setting up and operating relevant professional audio equipment. As a layman would put it, “the nuts and bolts” of recording. You will hear terms like “sound engineer”, “recording engineer”, “sound mixer” and “sound technician” being thrown around a lot.
These names can be interchangeable, and depending on the context, they may be synonymous. For example, you would see “sound engineer” or “recording engineer” listed in the credits of music albums or DVDs, however the same titles can also be used for people who work as technicians and maintains professional audio equipment.
Possible jobs out there for audio engineers in this category would include post-production for video and film, live sound reinforcement, advertising, multimedia and broadcasting. You could also look forward to working in a recording studio environment, and being involved in editing, mixing, recording and mastering tracks to meet the creative needs of artists or music producers.
So before you choose a career path that you are going to dedicate the rest of your life to, be sure you know what you are getting yourself into first. Thanks for reading and do feel free to leave comments below!