Sound Engineer Careers

How to become Sound Engineer

What does a Sound Engineer do?

Sound engineers who work in recording studios make high quality sound recordings, mainly for the entertainment industry.

Sound engineers operate complex electronic equipment to reproduce music, dialogue, sound effects and other audio content to the highest quality. This may be for: all types of music recordings; radio, TV and theatre; corporate presentations and promotions; websites and interactive media.

The work involves:

  • planning recording sessions and microphones and equipment in the studio
  • setting and maintaining appropriate sound levels and dynamics
  • recording each item/instrument
  • mixing various tracks on tape and monitoring the sound using the control room speakers
  • compiling the recordings into the final master according to the client’s brief
  • assembling all the information associated with the recording for archive.

What's the working environment like working as a Sound Engineer?

Hours of work vary widely and may include days, evenings, nights and weekends. Overtime may be available.

Most of the work is carried out in a recording studio. The conditions vary depending upon the type of studio. Large recording organisations may have air-conditioned, comfortable, spacious, well- equipped studios.

Most control rooms are intense working environments, often small and crowded and lit by artificial light.

Recordings may be made away from the studio at live concerts which could be in a theatre, a concert hall, or outdoors in the open air.

What does it take to become a Sound Engineer?

To be a sound engineer, you should:

  • have the ability to distinguish sound quality
  • have an ear for pitch, timing and rhythm
  • have a basic knowledge of electricity, electronics and the physical properties of sound
  • have practical wiring skills
  • have an interest and knowledge of music (musical ability is useful)
  • the ability to cope with long hours and stressful working conditions
  • be a good communicator.

Sound Engineer Career Opportunities

There is strong competition for places so initiative, persistence and the ability to make personal contacts in the industry is necessary.

Most of the major studios are based in London and are independently owned. Many of the large record companies use these in preference, or in addition to, owning their own studios. Some studios may specialise in a certain type of recording, eg, classical or popular music, and employ up to 15 people including sound engineers and studio assistants.

Many towns throughout the country have smaller studios. Most of the work involves recording ‘demo’ CDs and tapes for local bands, creating commercials for local radio stations and copying cassette tapes. Some also offer CD mastering services.

Engineers may specialise in certain areas such as mastering, or choose to become producers once they have built up a reputation with a number of clients. Others, with experience (and investment) start their own recording studios.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Sound Engineer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

British Phonographic Institute (BPI)
Riverside Building
County Hall
Westminster Bridge Road
Tel: 020 7803 1300

Association of Professional Recording Services
PO Box 22
Tel: 01803 868600

Professional Lighting and Sound Association
38 St Leonards Road
East Sussex
BN21 3UT
Tel: 01323 410335

Institute of Sound and Communications Engineers

Skillset Careers
Tel: 08080 300 900 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tel: 0808 100 8094 for Scotland

Prospect House
80-110 New Oxford Street

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