What are the Different Types of Jobs in Sound Engineering?

Lori Spencer

Audio engineering careers require versatility and the ability to adapt to working in a variety of sound formats and applications. One day, an engineer might be making an album for a major rock artist; the next day, he or she might be editing a film soundtrack or mixing a classical 120-piece orchestra's recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Jobs in sound engineering range include things such as running live sound at concerts, producing radio and television shows, creating sound for video games, performing audio post production or even designing entire public address (PA) systems and recording studios.

A sound engineer should know how the various types of microphones behave.
A sound engineer should know how the various types of microphones behave.

Recording and mixing engineers use multi-track recorders, mixing boards, microphones and effects to capture and manipulate audio. Jobs in sound engineering for recording or mixing engineers might include working for television and radio stations, advertising agencies, recording studios, film studios and Internet production facilities. Recording and mixing engineers generally work under the supervision of a producer.

Sound engineers often work in recording studios.
Sound engineers often work in recording studios.

The engineer's primary job is to ensure that the sound quality is to the customer's satisfaction. This often requires several attempts and different approaches until the sound is just right, so patience and diplomacy are important qualities for a recording engineer to have. An engineer should never lose his or her cool, even when tempers in the studio become heated.

Although many larger recording studios might employ one or two full-time engineers strictly for recording sessions and other engineers who specialize in mixing, most small and medium-sized studios expect audio engineers to be proficient in both recording and mixing. For example, an engineer working on an album project for an independent record label or artist might be responsible for every aspect of production. This tasks include cutting the initial rhythm tracks, overdubbing the vocal and instrument tracks, adding layers of effects and putting together the final mix.

Other jobs in sound engineering include working specifically in the video game industry, creating all those sound effects and musical interludes that make the games more engaging and realistic. As Internet sound and video technology has continued to advance, increasing numbers of jobs in sound engineering have become available to talented, web-savvy engineers who can enhance websites.

Live sound engineers can be found working behind the soundboard in local music clubs, or they might tour constantly with mid-level and major recording artists. At the local level, a live sound engineer usually covers all the bases: setting up the PA system, speakers, microphones, amplifiers and effects and running all the cables to the mixing board. In the large concert halls and touring stage productions, there usually is at least one "front house" engineer who runs the main sound system and one or two monitor engineers who focus strictly on providing adequate sound levels for the performers onstage to hear themselves.

Sound engineers can work in concert halls and other venues where live music is performed.
Sound engineers can work in concert halls and other venues where live music is performed.

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