AS a sound engineer in a recording studio, you would make high quality recordings of music, speech and sound effects.
You would use complex electronic equipment to record sound for many different uses, such as commercial music recordings and:
l radio, TV, film and commercials
l corporate videos
l computer games and other types of interactive media.
Your work would involve:
l planning recording sessions with producers and artists
l setting up microphones and equipment in the studio
l setting the right sound levels and dynamics
l operating equipment for recording, mixing, mastering, sequencing and sampling
l recording each instrument or item onto a separate track
l monitoring and balancing sound levels
l mixing tracks to produce a final ‘master’ track
l logging tapes and other details of the session in the studio archive.
You would need to be flexible about your working hours, which could be long and irregular. You might work during evenings, nights and weekends, depending on when artists and producers were available.
You would mainly work in recording studios. Conditions can vary – some commercial studios may be large and air-conditioned, but many are small and can be cramped.
Starting salaries can be from £13,000 a year full-time equivalent.
With experience, salaries can rise to between £20,000 and £40,000.
Freelance earnings can be higher or lower, depending on reputation and how much work is available.
You will need a good knowledge of music and recording technology, and you’ll also find it useful to understand physics and electronics. Many sound engineers start by taking a music technology course at college or university, to develop skills before looking for work in a studio.
Music technology courses are available at various levels, such as:
City & Guilds 7503 Certificate/Diploma in Sound and Music Technology (Level 1, 2 and 3 Award, Certificate and Diploma in Sound and Music Techniques (7603)BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in Music Technology
Foundation degrees, BTEC HNCs/HNDs or degrees in sound engineering, audio technology, music technology or music production.
Check with colleges or universities for course entry requirements. See the Association of Professional Recording Services (APRS) JAMES website for information on industry-approved courses.
Alternatively, instead of taking a music technology course before looking for work, you could start as an assistant or ‘runner’ in a recording studio. Here you would carry out basic routine jobs, but you would also get the chance to learn how to use studio equipment and assist on sessions.