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Become A Sound Designer

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Working As A Sound Designer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $79,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Sound Designer Do

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for radio programs, television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies.

Duties

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Operate, monitor, and adjust audio, video, lighting, and broadcast equipment to ensure consistent quality
  • Set up and take down equipment for events and live performances
  • Record speech, music, and other sounds on recording equipment or computers, sometimes using complex software
  • Synchronize sounds and dialogue with action taking place on television or in movie productions
  • Convert video and audio records to digital formats for editing on computers
  • Install audio, video, and lighting equipment in hotels, offices, and schools
  • Report any problems that arise with complex equipment and make routine repairs
  • Keep records of recordings and equipment used

These workers may be called broadcast or sound engineering technicians, operators, or engineers. At smaller radio and television stations, broadcast and sound technicians may do many jobs. At larger stations, they are likely to do more specialized work, although their job assignments may vary from day to day. They set up and operate audio and video equipment, and the kind of equipment they use may depend on the particular type of technician or industry.

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians share many of the same responsibilities, but their duties may vary with their specific area of focus.

Audio and video equipment technicians set up and operate audio and video equipment. They also connect wires and cables and set up and operate sound and mixing boards and related electronic equipment.

Audio and video equipment technicians work with microphones, speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, and recording equipment. The equipment they operate is used for meetings, concerts, sports events, conventions, and news conferences. In addition, they may operate equipment at conferences and at presentations for businesses and universities.

Audio and video equipment technicians may also set up and operate custom lighting systems. They frequently work directly with clients and must provide solutions to problems in a simple, clear manner.

Broadcast technicians set up, operate, and maintain equipment that regulates the signal strength, clarity, and ranges of sounds and colors for radio or television broadcasts. They operate transmitters to broadcast radio or television programs and use computer programs to edit audio and video recordings.

Sound engineering technicians operate computers and equipment that record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions. They record audio performances or events and may combine tracks that were recorded separately to create a multilayered final product. Sound engineering technicians operate transmitters to broadcast radio or television programs and use computers to program the equipment and edit audio recordings.

The following are examples of types of broadcast and sound engineering technicians:

Recording engineers operate and maintain video- and sound-recording equipment. These engineers work with computers, computer networks, and software to produce special effects for radio, television, or movies.

Sound mixers, or rerecording mixers, produce soundtracks for movies or television programs. They rerecord songs or compositions that already have been commercially released. After filming or recording is complete, these workers often dub the final product by adding or removing sounds.

Field technicians set up and operate portable equipment outside the studio—for example, for television news coverage. Because this coverage requires so much electronic equipment and the technology is changing so rapidly, many technicians are assigned exclusively to news coverage teams.

Chief engineers, transmission engineers, and broadcast field supervisors oversee other technicians and maintain broadcasting equipment.

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How To Become A Sound Designer

Broadcast and sound engineering technicians typically need postsecondary education. Depending on the work they do, it could either be a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate’s degree.  

Education

Audio and video equipment technicians, as well as sound engineering technicians, typically need a postsecondary nondegree award or certificate, whereas broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. However, in some cases workers in any of these occupations may need only a high school diploma to be eligible for entry-level positions.

Postsecondary nondegree programs for audio and video equipment technicians and sound engineering technicians may take several months to a year to complete. The programs include hands-on experience with the equipment used in many entry-level positions.

Broadcast technicians typically need an associate’s degree. In addition to courses in math and science, coursework for prospective broadcast technicians should emphasize practical skills such as video editing and production management.

Prospective broadcast and sound engineering technicians should complete high school courses in math, physics, and electronics. They must have excellent computer skills to be successful.

Training

Because technology is constantly improving, technicians often enroll in continuing education courses and they receive on-the-job training to become skilled in new equipment and hardware. On-the-job training includes topics such as setting up cables or automation systems, testing electrical equipment, learning the codes and standards of the industry, and following safety procedures.

Training for new hires can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on the types of products and services the employer provides. Although some apprenticeship programs do exist, more frequently a new technician will accompany a more experienced technician to get the training and skills necessary for advancement.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required by most employers, earning voluntary certification will offer advantages in getting a job as a broadcast or sound engineering technician. Certification tells employers that the technician meets certain industry standards and has kept up to date with new technologies.

For example, the Society of Broadcast Engineers offers eight broadcast engineering certifications, two operator certifications, and two broadcast networking certifications. All of them require passing an exam. Similarly, InfoComm International offers an audiovisual Certified Technology Specialist credential.

Other Experience

Practical experience working in a high school or college audiovisual department also can help prepare someone to be an audio and video equipment technician.

Advancement

Although many broadcast and sound engineering technicians work first in small markets or at small stations in big markets, after they gain the necessary experience and skills they often transfer to larger, better paying radio or television stations. Few large stations hire someone without previous experience, and they value more specialized skills.

Experienced workers with strong technical skills can become supervisory technicians or chief engineers. To become chief engineer at large television stations, technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Technicians need to communicate with supervisors and coworkers to ensure that clients’ needs are met and that equipment is set up properly before broadcasts, live performances, and presentations.

Computer skills. Technicians use computer systems to program equipment and edit audio and video recordings.

Manual dexterity. Some technicians set up audio and visual equipment and cables, a job that requires a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination. Others adjust small knobs, dials, and sliders during radio and television broadcasts and live performances.

Problem-solving skills. Technicians need to recognize equipment problems and propose possible solutions to them. Employers typically desire applicants with a variety of skills, such as setting up equipment, maintaining the equipment, and troubleshooting and solving any problems that arise.

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Sound Designer Typical Career Paths

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Sound Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

76.6%

Female

13.0%

Unknown

10.3%
Ethnicity

White

59.1%

Hispanic or Latino

16.9%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

9.6%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

45.1%

French

13.2%

Chinese

7.7%

German

7.7%

Italian

7.7%

Japanese

5.5%

Russian

3.3%

Korean

3.3%

Mandarin

2.2%

Portuguese

1.1%

Catalan

1.1%

Persian

1.1%

Arabic

1.1%
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Sound Designer Education

Schools

Full Sail University

18.9%

Berklee College of Music

17.1%

Savannah College of Art and Design

10.9%

New York University

9.4%

Columbia College Chicago

6.9%

Academy of Art University

3.5%

Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy

3.0%

American University

2.7%

University of the Arts

2.5%

Middle Tennessee State University

2.5%

Institute of Production and Recording

2.5%

Institute of Audio Research

2.5%

Montclair State University

2.5%

Syracuse University

2.2%

School of Visual Arts

2.2%

San Francisco State University

2.2%

Art Institute of California - Inland

2.2%

DePaul University

2.2%

Ohio University -

2.0%

University of South Florida

2.0%
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Majors

Music

23.0%

Photography

17.2%

Audiovisual Communications Technologies

7.9%

Theatre

7.1%

Graphic Design

6.8%

Communication

6.5%

Fine Arts

4.2%

Engineering

4.0%

Entertainment Business

3.5%

Computer Science

2.9%

Business

2.3%

Digital Media

2.2%

English

2.0%

Design And Visual Communication

1.6%

Animation

1.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.6%

Drafting And Design

1.6%

Writing

1.6%

Physics

1.3%

Visual And Performing Arts

1.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

54.9%

Other

17.6%

Masters

13.6%

Associate

8.5%

Certificate

3.4%

Diploma

1.2%

Doctorate

0.8%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$79,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$37,000
Min 10%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$167,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
Frisco, TX
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Sound Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Sound Designer in the United States is $79,477 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $37,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $167,000.

Real Sound Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Sound Designer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Sep 01, 2014 $165,000 -
$185,000
Sound Designer Microsoft Corporation Kirkland, WA Jul 01, 2015 $110,000
Lead Sound Designer SONY Computer Entertainment America LLC San Diego, CA Oct 01, 2010 $88,267
Senior Sound Designer Audioworks Producers Group, Inc. New York, NY Jul 09, 2016 $62,400
Sound Designer/Synthesist Spectrasonics A DBA of Lorey Persing Burbank, CA Aug 30, 2011 $60,000
Game Sound Designer/Composer Tencent Boston, Inc. MA Sep 18, 2012 $60,000
Sound Designer/Synthesist Spectrasonics A DBA of Lorey Persing Burbank, CA May 01, 2012 $60,000
Senior Sound Designer Audioworks Producers Group, Inc. New York, NY Sep 24, 2015 $58,000
Senior Sound Designer Audioworks Producers Group, Inc. New York, NY Sep 17, 2014 $57,800
Senior Sound Designer Audioworks Producers Group, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2012 $46,862
Computer Sound Designer Fantage.com Inc. Palisades Park, NJ Oct 12, 2009 $44,704 -
$21
Senior Sound Designer Audioworks Producers Group, Inc. New York, NY Sep 15, 2012 $43,306
Lead Sound Designer Trendy Entertainment LLC Gainesville, FL Feb 01, 2011 $41,740
Sound Designer and Media Specialist Slick Sounds Culver City, CA Apr 08, 2013 $37,566

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Top Skills for A Sound Designer

  1. Audio Equipment
  2. Original Sound Design
  3. Original Sound Effects
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed a state-of-the-art recording studio, from drafting plans and determining room materials to selecting audio equipment and software.
  • Recorded and produced music and sound effects for award-winning video game titles Snuggle Truck and Jack Lumber (Published by SEGA)
  • Freelance sound designer, producer, dialogue editor, and composer for games.
  • Operate sound board and sound equipment while recording, analyze and clean up recordings for client approval.
  • Worked on Numerous short films including creating: SFX, Ambiance, ADR, Musical Score and Composition

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Top 10 Best States for Sound Designers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. New York
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Washington
  5. Virginia
  6. California
  7. Oregon
  8. Rhode Island
  9. New Jersey
  10. Alaska
  • (91 jobs)
  • (838 jobs)
  • (209 jobs)
  • (227 jobs)
  • (282 jobs)
  • (1,190 jobs)
  • (103 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (182 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)

Top Sound Designer Employers

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Jobs From Top Sound Designer Employers

Sound Designer Videos

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The life and Career of a Professional Sound Engineer

The Sound Designer (Career Guides)

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