Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (2023)

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Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (1)

Commanders of the control room, Studio Engineers help transform musical moments into timeless masterpieces by facilitating the production of sound.

At a glance

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (2)Salary: Variable.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (3)Working Hours:Variable based on sector, 8-10hr days, though some evenings and weekends.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (4)Satisfaction: Very high*

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (5)Expected growth:6%*

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (6)Male/female split:
89.2% male**
10.8% female **

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Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (7)

What does a Studio Engineer/Producer do?

A studio engineer can take on a number of different roles depending on the size and type of facility they work in. In some cases their roles can be quite niche and specific, in others they can span a range of duties.

A studio engineer's responsibilities generally involve recording and processing audio so that it’s ready for commercial use or release. Their role involves working with musicians in a studio, managing recording sessions and ensuring sound is captured at the desired quality. They can be responsible for mixing the audio so that the recordings can be transformed into a final product, like an album or single.

Studio workers whose job title incorporates a producer role have a lot of artistic input when they work on a project. At times, they can be sonic designers creating an identity for a piece of music by using different recording techniques to process sound. They also work as collaborators writing and producing the music used by artists in their releases alongside helping them to record parts of the song. A studio engineer could comprise different distinct roles (listed below) or a mixture of responsibilities from each.

Assistant Engineer

This role is centred on keeping the customers and main engineers happy. Duties range from making tea and coffee and hosting clients to setting up microphones, fixing and running cables, packing down and generally being on call to ensure a session runs smoothly.

Recording Engineer

Responsible for managing the recording session, recording engineers choose the recording equipment to be used, decide on microphone type and placement and work with the band and producer to ensure sound is captured in the correct way, at the correct level, using a digital audio workstation.

Mix Engineer

A mix engineer processes and balances the recorded or synthesised audio and creates the final balanced mix of a project before it is sent to audio mastering.

Producer

Works with the band and other engineers to record, manage and produce a project and provide artistic direction and creative contribution, where appropriate.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (8)

“The producer role, everyone’s got a different take on what it means and encompasses. It can be about sound engineering or working with musicians, writing the music, fixing sessions...it can cover a whole manner of things, essentially to get the idea captured and taken all the way to being out there in some shape or form depending on what it is.”

The day-to-day

The audio recording industry is a client driven sector, therefore working patterns can vary greatly depending on the size of the project, the type of project and profile of the client.

Recording sessions often involve 12 hour days starting at 10am but can sometimes start and finish later depending on the customer. Sessions require setup and packdown which is usually done by the assistant engineer who will be on hand throughout the day, ready to help set up the appropriate microphones (alongside other duties) for recording different instruments.

The recording engineer will also be at the studio for the full session, as booked by the artist. To ensure the quality of the recordings is at the standard required by the producer, the recording engineer spends their time operating a digital audio workstation, choosing the best microphones for each take and deciding what recording equipment to use to achieve the desired sound.

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Mix engineers work to a similar timescale, starting at 10am and finishing at around 10pm. Their day will mostly be filled with processing the recorded audio to craft a balanced mix. They often work alone or with input from the producer of the project.

Other roles like that of a producer can be much more varied. In some situations, the producer provides direction and creative input from a consultancy position. At other times they can be involved in the recording, writing and mixing process.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (9)

“There are two elements to my work which I’m jumping back and forth from all the time. As a producer, my personal interest comes much more to the forefront in terms of how I imagine things to sound. When I’m undertaking other roles in the studio, where I’m not acting as producer, I’m more transparent and what I do is guided by the artist or their producer. In this situation it’s important to make things the way they hear them, not how you want them”

Why become a Studio Engineer/Producer?

What Studio Engineers/Producers love about their work

“I love listening to good records, so if I can be part of making or creating a good record, that is the most rewarding thing for me. If the track is great and the recording has been done properly, I’m there to put the icing on the cake, which I love.”
“By far my favourite part is that you get to be in the room with a band when something magical happens and that is an absolute privilege, especially if it’s a band you really like or if it’s a band you don’t know but they happen to be really good musicians. You get to hear that vocal take that gives you goosebumps, that sort of stuff I find incredible”

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (11)

Where a career as a Studio Engineer/Producer can take you

As we have already touched upon, there are numerous roles a studio engineer could undertake. Typically studio engineers begin their life working in a commercial institution as an assistant engineer before progressing to become a recording engineer or mix engineer, and then a producer. Freelancers' work can vary with people taking on some and all of the roles earlier on in their career.

As an engineer or producer’s reputation grows, the opportunity to work for more high-profile clients also increases. At the top end of the profession, sought after producers and engineers can find themselves working with the world's A-list recording artists, commanding a high wage for their services, with people choosing to work with them to achieve a specific vibe or sound.

Other considerations

In the modern digital age it is feasible for bands and artists to produce high-quality, successful recordings using home studio setups. Artists – especially in the electronic music industry – tend to take on all of the roles themselves. That said, the majority of popular music is still recorded in high-end commercial facilities, where you will find distinctive roles and progression in place.

“The first step is figuring out whether you really want do this to be honest, because it is a lifestyle commitment. Luckily for me I’ve known from day one that this is what I want to commit myself to. So if you’re not sure that you want to do this, have a long think because there is a lot of time and life investment involved.”

Who is this role suited to?

Studio Engineers/Producers tend to have distinct personalities, interests and skill sets. You may be cut out for this role if…

You are:

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (12)

A problem solver

Providing creative and practical solutions throughout the production process forms a large part of studio-based recording work. Problem solving can take on many forms from fixing audio issues using software to choosing the right microphone for a desired sound. Studio engineers get great satisfaction finding solutions for their clients.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (13)

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Detail orientated

Delivering a commercially viable recording requires attention to detail at each stage. From choosing the best recording equipment for the project to carefully balancing audio for a final mix, an eye for nuances is essential.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (14)

Creative

Like most roles in the music industry, creativity is key. The creative approaches of studio engineers during the recording process have been responsible for the sonic identity of some of the worlds most important records.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (15)

Excellent communicator

The recording process is collaborative. Being able to effectively understand a client’s vision and communicate your ideas in a manner that fosters a positive environment is essential for generating high quality output in the studio.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (16)

Music

A studio engineer is naturally a music fan at heart with an affection for the artform as a whole, spanning multiple genres.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (17)

Working with technology

The tools of the trade come from the ever-changing world of music technology. Working with multiple software suites, machines and devices make up the day to day in this profession.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (18)

Learning new skills

Frequent advances in technology require learning new skills on a regular basis. Studio engineers love learning how to use innovative new devices and techniques in their work, as they become available.

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You’re good at:

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (19)

Recording and music production

Being proficient in these areas will mean you can deliver the high-quality work expected by customers and build a loyal client base.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (20)

Working collaboratively and on your own

Engineers can switch between working in a group during recording and working solo during mixing.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (21)

Building rapport

Developing positive relationships is extremely important. Building good rapport will help you get the best performances from bands and artists resulting in higher quality output and more repeat business.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (22)

Organisation and time management

Studio bookings often work on an hourly or day rate. You will need good organisational and time management skills to ensure recording sessions are ready to start quickly and projects are completed on time.

How do you become a Studio Engineer/Proucer?

A dominant factor in finding regular work as a studio engineer or a producer is reputation. At the start of your career you will be practicing your skills on your own music and for other artists on a local level. At first the work will be unpaid but you will be developing your skills and building your reputation in the industry. As demand grows you will be able start charging for your services.

Many engineers also follow a traditional route starting life as an assistant in a recording studio before progressing onto different roles in the company they are employed by.

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (23)

Katie May, assistant recording engineer at Real World Studios, got her break through higher education. While studying she was alerted to an internship opportunity at Real World Studios, which later developed into a full-time role. This scenario is becoming increasingly common with higher education providers, like dBs Music, using industry contacts to facilitate opportunities for their students that later lead onto full time employment.

“Put your foot in as many doors as possible, email studios and ask if you can do even a day’s internship, commit to that, commit to learning their names, commit to making some sort of connection so when you do need a job after you graduate they will remember you and consider you for opportunities. That’s how I got a lot of my mix work, through networking with people at the studio.”
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How can dBs help?

Our Music Production diploma is the ideal starting point for anyone looking to build a career as a studio engineer. You will develop mixing, mastering and music production skills while getting hands-on experience using industry-standard recording equipment in our state-of-the-art studios.

The diploma is an excellent segway into our FdA Music and Audio Technology and BA Hons Music Production and Sound Engineering degrees. Each course will enable you to continue building your studio engineering skills while deepening your knowledge of audio technology. You will also gain experience mixing and recording in some of the world’s best studios like Super Audio Mastering and Real World Studios. A combination of skills, knowledge and experience gained will equip you to easily step into multiple roles in the industry.

Both programmes are offered at our Bristol and Plymouth centres.

Where do you go from here?

Tips from the top

“Speak to as many people as you can, email people, try and get studio experience. The connections you make there and the things you will learn will be way more valuable than the skills you teach yourself at home”

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (24)

“Something that isn’t talked about much in music is how important it is to have a community of people around you...there’s something important and vital about working with people over sustained time and over lots of different projects...I tend to work with lots of the same people all the time and that’s grown and developed over time. 90% of the work I do is with people I have worked with or associated with previously. That’s how I find new pieces of work as well, through the connections I make with people while working on projects with them.”
“When I started I was always worried about using techniques and trying to replicate what others had done in their mixes but then there was a moment when I just said to myself I’m going to mix this exactly how I want to mix it and that’s when everything clicked. I was trying to make the mix work for myself and after that point I never looked back.”

Building your skills &amp portfolio

Gaining experience working with as many different people as you can, in as many genres as possible, is the best place to start building your skills and growing your portfolio. If at first you don't have people to collaborate with, record, mix or create your own music and practice using that. The internet is also a vast resource for finding audio to work on. Remix competitions are also a great place to find source material to practice with.

Ultimately, the best way to grow in this role is to network with your local community of musicians and see if you can offer your skills to them to build your experience.

“Mixing comes with experience and we all make mistakes. You need to mix as many genres as you can to gain the experience and find out where you work best as that’s where you’ll ultimately get your work. Practice, practice, practice because that’s how you’ll get really good at it. ”

Career Spotlight - Studio Engineer | dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies (25)

Useful Resources

  • What does a Studio Engineer/Producer do?
    • The day-to-day
  • Why become a Studio Engineer/Producer?
    • What Studio Engineers/Producers love about their work
    • here a career as a Studio Engineer/Producer can take you
    • Other considerations
  • Who is this role suited to?
    • You are
    • You like
    • You're good at
  • How do you become a Studio Engineer/Producer?
    • How can dBs help?
  • Where do you go from here?
    • Tips from the top
    • Useful Resources

FAQs

What is the job of a studio engineer? ›

A studio engineer's responsibilities generally involve recording and processing audio so that it's ready for commercial use or release. Their role involves working with musicians in a studio, managing recording sessions and ensuring sound is captured at the desired quality.

Who is a famous sound engineer? ›

Bill Porter (sound engineer)
Billy Rhodes Porter
OccupationAudio engineer and college professor
Employer(s)WLAC-TV, RCA Victor, Columbia Records, Monument Records, Elvis Presley, University of Miami
Known forPioneering the Nashville sound
Children3
3 more rows

How do you become a studio engineer? ›

Hopeful sound engineers may pursue a bachelor's degree in audio production, music theory, and sound engineering. Alternatively, you can attend a vocational school or degree program that provides training and hands-on experience for your future audio engineering career.

What does an engineer do in a recording studio? ›

The recording engineer oversees many technical and aesthetic aspects of a recording session and is responsible for the overall sound of all recorded tracks, ensuring that the mixing engineer has good material to work with and that the final product satisfies the artists and producers.

Is sound engineer a good career? ›

What is the scope of sound engineering in India? Many students often ask - "Is sound engineering a good career option?" The simple answer to that question is - YES! As mentioned above, it is a wonderful time for aspiring sound engineers to learn the nitty-gritties of the subject and enter the industry.

Is an studio engineer a good job? ›

Short answer: yes. With a wide range of perks and unique advantages in this line of work, it's safe to say that anyone who lands themself a job in audio engineering is set up for a promising career. There will always be a need for trained audio engineers.

Do sound engineers pay well? ›

Candidates after completing their studies in Sound Engineering can find lucrative and highly paid job opportunities in private as well as government sectors, however they are paid according to their qualifications. The highest salary of a Sound Engineer in India is around INR 8,00,000 per annum.

Do sound engineers make good money? ›

Sound engineers make $52,197 per year on average, or $25.09 per hour, in the United States. Sound engineers on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $28,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $95,000.

Are sound engineers in demand? ›

The better you are, the more gigs you'll get. Even with the changes that have taken place in the recording business over the past few years, the best audio engineers will always be in high demand.

How are studio engineers paid? ›

How much does a Studio Engineer make? Studio engineers make $93,539 per year on average, or $44.97 per hour, in the United States.

Is sound engineering difficult? ›

Yes, it can be hard because sound engineering involves both creative and technical skills.

Can you be a sound engineer without a degree? ›

You can also become an audio engineer without a degree. This path entails taking audio post-secondary non-degree programs that take a few months to one year to complete. Coursework includes studio recording courses, music theory and design projects.

Do recording engineers make good money? ›

Recording engineers make $78,099 per year on average, or $37.55 per hour, in the United States. Recording engineers on the lower end of that spectrum, the bottom 10% to be exact, make roughly $44,000 a year, while the top 10% makes $135,000.

What qualifications does a sound engineer need? ›

Some sound engineers start by taking a college course to develop their skills before looking for work. Qualifications include: Level 2 Diploma in Sound and Music Technology. Level 3 Certificate in Technical Theatre: Sound, Light and Stage.

Are recording engineers in demand? ›

Job Outlook

Overall employment of broadcast, sound, and video technicians is projected to grow 21 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Does sound engineering have scope in future? ›

Graduates of sound engineering programmes have a wide range of career options available in the radio, television, and music industry, recording studios, event management companies, and the production of musical concerts. The candidates can enrol in a two-year study leading to a Diploma in Audio Engineering.

Are sound engineers happy? ›

A solid majority of audio engineers enjoy their work environment, probably contributing to overall higher satisfaction with working as an audio engineer.

Is audio engineering stressful? ›

High. Audio engineers tend not to find their jobs stressful, which likely contributes positively to career satisfaction.

Is audio engineering a good career 2022? ›

Sound engineering is a great career choice, especially if you're into technology, have a creative spark and love tinkering around with audio effects. It's also a very satisfying & rewarding field to work in.

Do audio engineers travel a lot? ›

Concert tour and film location audio engineers are on the road a lot. They often get to travel around the world, but not necessarily when and where they want to go. Also, take some time to consider the dynamics which will likely be at play.

What is the difference between an audio engineer and a sound engineer? ›

Firstly, audio engineers and sound engineers are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, most use 'audio engineer' to refer to recording or studio work, and 'sound engineer' to refer to live concerts and events. An audio engineer can also be known as a recording engineer.

Do audio engineers work long hours? ›

Hours/Travel

Sometimes work evenings and weekends. Usually work 40 hours per week.

Are sound engineers actual engineers? ›

Audio "Engineers" of the type that operate the equipment required to mix and record sound on records, TV, radio, movies, etc. are not engineers.

What type of audio engineer makes the most money? ›

High Paying Audio Engineer Jobs
  • Acoustic Engineer. Salary range: $89,000-$132,500 per year. ...
  • Balance Engineer. Salary range: $41,000-$121,000 per year. ...
  • DSP Engineer. Salary range: $91,000-$119,000 per year. ...
  • Voice Engineer. ...
  • Audio Production Engineer. ...
  • Audio Experience Expert. ...
  • Audio Operator. ...
  • Sound Designer.

Does sound engineering require math? ›

Sound engineering course comes with a lot of math calculations.

Can audio engineers make 6 figures? ›

Working as an Audio Engineer also means you'll earn a decent salary. Entry-level Engineers can expect to make about $40,000 annually as they're building their career while top Engineers can earn up to seven figures!

What is a sound engineer called? ›

An audio engineer (also known as a sound engineer or recording engineer) helps to produce a recording or a live performance, balancing and adjusting sound sources using equalization, dynamics processing and audio effects, mixing, reproduction, and reinforcement of sound.

Where is the best place to be a Audio Engineer? ›

Oregon is the best state in the country for audio engineer jobs, and Alaska has the second-highest median salary in the country. Oregon is the best state for jobs for audio engineers, and Rhode Island is the worst.
...
1. Oregon.
Total Audio Engineer Jobs:160
Lowest 10 Percent Earn:$47,000
Highest 10 Percent Earn:$169,000
2 more rows
6 Apr 2021

What skills do you need to be a studio engineer? ›

10 examples of audio engineering skills
  • Hardware management. To produce effective sounds, an audio engineer must know how to operate different hardware systems and use their features. ...
  • Digital sound software. ...
  • Equalizing methods. ...
  • Mixing techniques. ...
  • Acoustics. ...
  • Music theory knowledge. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Communication.

What is difference between studio engineer and producer? ›

So, although their roles may overlap, music producers and sound engineers do hold very distinct roles in the recording studio. The music producer manages the team and dictates the creative vision for the track, and the technically-skilled sound engineer works with him or her mix the track.

What makes a good studio engineer? ›

They include communication, active listening, problem solving, flexibility, teamwork, organization, and continuous learning. With these skills, a sound engineer can prepare themselves for a successful career.

Which institute is best for sound engineering? ›

Some of the top colleges offering Sound Engineering Courses include IIT Kharagpur, Film and Television Institute of India, National Institute of Film and Fine Arts, Asian Academy of Film and Television, Grosek Institute of Film Technology, and so on.

Which subject is best for sound engineering? ›

Required sound engineering subjects include sound theory and audio principles, computers, sound production management, audio electronics, math and the use of control boards. Training occurs in classrooms and recording studios.

Do sound engineers make music? ›

These skilled individuals choose or create music, dialogue and sound effects to deliver an impactful final product. If you're interested in a career in sound engineering, learning what this job entails can help you decide whether it's the right path for you.

How long does it take to study sound engineering? ›

Sound Engineering Courses

In the two-year sound engineering course, you will learn how to edit, mix and master. Your practical projects include the recording of advertisements, band recordings and film audio (foley).

Can you learn audio engineering by yourself? ›

For many, the formal audio engineering education simply isn't necessary. With some self-discipline, dedication, and free time, you can probably teach yourself the basics through free online resources.

What are 3 responsibilities that a sound recording engineer has? ›

Responsibilities
  • Follow instructions and details from directors, producers etc.
  • Set up and test sound equipment before events, broadcasts or recordings.
  • Record, edit and mix audio tracks (instruments, vocals etc.)
  • Enhance sound quality and add sound effects to recordings.

How much does a recording engineer charge per hour? ›

Prices vary between $25 to $60 per hour, depending on experience, credits and awards.

How much do sound engineers make for movies? ›

Average Salary for a Film Sound Engineer

Film Sound Engineers in America make an average salary of $67,517 per year or $32 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $94,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $48,000 per year.

Is audio engineering a competitive field? ›

For individuals who are passionate about new and advancing technology, audio engineering can offer the chance to use technology every day but also develop new equipment and techniques. It is a competitive industry and takes leadership and perseverance (as well as a good ear) to succeed.

How many hours do sound engineers work? ›

Hours/Travel

Sometimes work evenings and weekends. Usually work 40 hours per week.

Are audio engineers paid well? ›

The average Audio Engineer in the US makes $100,997. The average bonus for an Audio Engineer is $2,500 which represents 2% of their salary, with 25% of people reporting that they receive a bonus each year.

How long does it take to become a studio engineer? ›

Enroll for an associate or bachelor's degree in sound production or audio engineering. An associate degree in audio engineering takes two years, while a bachelor's degree takes four years.

How much does a studio engineer cost? ›

“Typically, that's handled hourly in a production room at around $85 an hour for the studio, $50 an hour for the engineer. A session like that might run about four to six hours, and then after that, there's a production component to it.

How long does it take to become a good sound engineer? ›

It can take two to six years to become a sound engineer. The time it takes depends on the career path you choose. You can study through a postsecondary program like an associate or bachelor's degree. In addition, you will have to develop some practical experience in the industry before you can achieve this role.

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