So you have a passion for music and a real desire to work in the entertainment industry but you just know deep down you’ll never ‘make it’ centre stage. Or you don’t see yourself being the star but you really want to work in an industry that’s varied, involves travel but yet requires precision, technical know how combined with imagination, flair and a bit of style thrown in.
Then have you thought about building a career in sound engineering? It isn’t just about having a passion for music or performing but is about making things sound the best they can be by having creativity combined with knowledge and understanding of the latest sound technology. A sense of rhythm, a love of music and skills in physics and electronics are all essential components of career in sound.
Types of sound engineer
Broadly speaking there are two kinds of sound engineer, which are those who work on live performances such as with bands or musicians and those who work in a studio with artists looking to record a music album or other recorded commercial release. Generally, every performer needs someone with skills in sound to make them sound great and leave their fans begging for more or in the case of recorded.
Like many jobs starting out as a sound engineer is often a case of starting at the bottom and working your way up as you gain experience in whichever field you wish to pursue. As such putting yourself out there and being willing to take on any work experience possible is a key factor in getting where you want to be.
A lot of the time also work is available on a contract or self employed basis; though there are a flurry of large sound engineering companies like EMI, Sony and BMG as well as smaller independents that are always on the lookout to recruit skilled workers and talented individuals who have taken the time to learn their craft. These companies many not always advertise for jobs so it is always worth sending a speculative resume off in order to promote your abilities.
Word of mouth can play an important part in getting work as a sound engineer and as such building up and maintaining a network of contacts is vital. Social networking, as well as face to face, are inevitably going to play a key part in building your reputation. Sites like Twitter and Facebook can put you in direct contact with potential employers and are both platforms for you to showcase your portfolio.
In terms of qualifications then there are courses out there in music technology which can be studied at school or college. Qualifications aren’t a given to entry into the industry though so gaining experience is as important if not more important than studies. Getting qualifications isn’t essential but can set you apart from other potential candidates when it comes to employers choosing between those that are evenly matched when it comes to demonstrating experience. At the same time showing that you have the creativity that complements your technical skill and being able to get that across is half the battle.
It will be important to keep up to date with technology as the rate of change in the industry can be rapid. The onus will be on you to understand the latest techniques and equipment.
Being a sound engineer is nothing like having a regular office job. For many this is exactly why they choose the career as they much prefer the variation rather than the rigidity of an office environment and all that goes with it. As an employee that is often out in the field on jobs then you will be covered by your employers insurance regardless of your location. If you are self employed as a sound engineer then investing in an insurance policy that will cover you for all kinds of work will be necessary. It is also advisable to take out insurance for the tools of your trade whether that is office cover for your files and paperwork at home or a policy for your home studio and equipment you take with you on site.
Flexibility and variety
If as a student you were used to keeping unsociable hours then long may it continue in your career as a sound engineer. Flexibility is key to your survival and this includes your ability to travel to different locations as well as working long and often unusual hours to ensure everything is ready.
In return you will be rewarded with a career that is full of variety. Whilst it won’t all be about mingling with celebrities there may be opportunities to be involved with or experience working with some well known people.
Some useful resources
If you are just starting out then making links locally with clubs or music venues to offer work experience could prove invaluable.
For further assistance and career advice then the following sites may be of interest to gain further information:
Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/…hnicians.htm
The Audio Institute of America: http://www.audioinstitute.com/
Media Match USA: http://www.media-match.com/…s-402784.php