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What does a Sound Technician do?

Sound technicians operate audio equipment at sporting arenas, concert halls, theaters, recording studios and in movie productions. They record, synchronize or mix sounds such as music, voice or sound effects.

Audio technicians bring together artistic and technical skills, touching on fields such as music, acoustics and electronics. They produce and manipulate sound through either analog or digital equipment, including recording, broadcasting and mixing machines. Sound technicians are responsible for the quality of the audio in commercial productions, including the fidelity, brightness, contrast, volume and overall quality of the sound.

Sound technician job description

The job duties of a sound technician may include all aspects of audio production, from creative and technical tasks such as recording and manipulating audio tracks to administrative tasks such as scheduling and budgeting.

Studio engineers are generalists who oversee the whole studio operation. They may oversee audio crew, design the audio system and plan and install equipment. Specialty roles for sound technicians include:
  • Audio post engineer: Post-production audio for movie or video productions
  • Live sound engineer or monitor engineer: Live sound reinforcement for music concerts or theater
  • Recording, mixing or mastering engineer: Recording, editing, manipulating, mixing or mastering audio in a music recording studio
  • Game audio designer: Programming audio for a video game
  • Systems engineer: Setup of modern PA systems
Sound technicians may work in broadcast journalism, television or movie production, advertising, multimedia, video game design, music recording or concert production.

Training to become a sound technician

Sound technicians generally need some formal training to learn the ropes of audio production, particularly given the increasing sophistication of digital mixing and recording equipment. Training options range from vocational programs to a bachelor's degree in audio production or broadcasting.

The two-year associate in applied science and four-year bachelor's degree in audio production, audio engineering or music engineering technology offer the broadest sound technician training. Sample course titles in audio production or audio technology include:
  • Digital audio workstations
  • Sound studio techniques
  • Sound synthesis
  • Production mixing and mastering
  • Studio management
  • Acoustics
  • Creative sound techniques
  • Surround sound techniques
  • Scoring for film and television
Trained sound technicians are eligible to apply for Society of Broadcast Engineers certification, which can help you launch or advance your career in audio production.

Sound technician career path

Most sound technicians forge careers in entertainment and media. About a third of sound technicians work in broadcasting, and another 15 percent find their niche in the movie or video production industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nearly one in seven sound technicians is self-employed. The hottest job markets for sound technicians are in the entertainment and broadcasting capitals of the nation: Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Television and radio offer opportunities for sound technicians in nearly every U.S. city.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts relatively strong opportunity for sound technicians, with 13 percent job growth expected. The Department of Labor sees several factors contributing to growth in sound technician career opportunity: the rise of corporate audio and video production departments, new audio technologies such as digital movie screens and digital signage and new audio system installation at schools and other public facilities.

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