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The audio engineering industry is very broad and very versatile. Audio engineering jobs will grow but will be heavily influenced by technological changes which will affect how that industry develops. Let’s take a deeper look at the future of the industry and the type of work prospects.
Audio engineers are very much in demand. The US Bureau of labor statistics estimates that jobs in sound engineering technicians are expected to grow at 2% per year to 2028. In the broader category of broadcast and sound engineering technicians, job growth is expected to grow at 8% per year over the same period.
Demand for audio engineers is going to be driven by demands in different work environments. To understand what your prospects may be in this career path, it is important to discuss which work places and environments will fuel this growth.
What will drive the demand for audio engineers
The job outlook for audio and visual equipment technicians is expected to grow at 8% to 2028. Fueling this growth is the demand for people to set up, new technologically advanced audio equipment as well as upgrade and maintain older systems.
Advances in audio technologies are going to help organisations eliminate the boundaries to communication created by space and time. Audio and visual technology is moving to a point where people in different locations (within the same country and aboard) can communicate effectively,
and in the process reduce transport costs and become more efficient. Consequently, more audio technicians will be needed to install, set up and maintain audio communication devices.
Academic institutions are also investing in audio and video equipment and as a result audio and video technicians will be required to set up and maintain this infrastructure.
Ofcourse one of the biggest and certainly most lucrative industries for people interested in sound engineering will be the media and entertainment industries. I think its safe to say that most people interested in audio engineering would love to find their way in this industry.
As big as entertainment and media are, there is still massive growth to come. PwC estimates that the global entertainment and music industry will grow at 4.3% per annum into 2023.
The chart below shows where some of the biggest growth trends are likely to come from. As can be seen from below the biggest areas of growth are going to come from new technologies such as VR and video based audio work
Many of the jobs that one can do is going to be driven by the type of industry that requires sound engineering techniques, as well as the cities in which you obtain employment. Below are some statistics related to employment and wages in sound engineering in different parts of the USA
Employment and Wage stats within industries in Sound and audio engineering
|Industry||Employees||Hourly mean wage (USD)||Annual mean wage|
|1||Motion picture and video||3760||38.62||80 320|
|2||Specialized design services||50||36.57||76 070|
|3||Other information services||90||36.39||75690|
|4||Computer systems design and related services||120||34.56||71880|
|5||Radio and television broadcasting||980||30.65||63750|
|6||Sound recording||3030||27.25||56 680|
|7||Performing arts companies||750||27.54||57 280|
|8||Independent artists, writers and performers||590||23.22||48 290|
|9||Manufacturing and reproducing magnetic and optical media||750||23.37||48 610|
As can be seen above, the motion picture and video industries has the most people employed and the highest average annual income. Sound recording has the second highest number of people employed.
Source: (Bureau of labor statistics) https://www.bls.gov/
Note (these numbers represent US data)
States with the highest level of employment
|State||Employment||Hourly Mean Wage||Annual mean Wage|
As can be seen above the majority of jobs are in California and New York, the centers of entertainment and music.
* Estimates have not been released
Highest wages by state
|State||Employment||Hourly mean wage (USD)||Annual Mean Wage (USD)|
|3||New York||1770||39.44||82 030|
|4||District of Columbia||60||38.18||79 410|
As can be seen above Louisiana and Connecticut have the highest annual average wages of any other cities.
Source: bureau of labor statistics
Highest Employment by Metropolitan Area
|Metropolitan area||Employment||Hourly mean wage||Annual mean wage|
|1||Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||3440||*||*|
|2||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||1690||38.22||79 490|
|3||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||480||29.7||61 790|
|4||Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA||300||22.02||45 800|
|5||Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV||270||26.84||55 830|
|6||Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN||260||27.2||56 570|
|7||Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV||220||27.82||57 790|
|8||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||220||31.5||65 530|
|9||Salt Lake City, UT||210||14.03||29 170|
Top Paying metropolitan areas
|Metropolitan area||Annual Mean Wage (USD)||Hourly Mean Wage||Employment|
|1||New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||79 490||38.22||1690|
|2||Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI||69 730||33.52||60|
|3||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||66 280||31.86||100|
|4||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||65 530||31.5||220|
|5||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||63 990||30.77||30|
|7||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC||63 780||30.66||50|
|8||San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||62 990||30.29||150|
|7||Kingston, NY||62 550||30.07||*|
|9||Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI||61 830||29.72||200|
|10||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||61 790||29.7||480|
Where can you find work as an audio engineer ?
Audio engineers can be employed in a variety of fields. Sound engineers work in recording studios, managing the audio for musicians as they produce tracks.
You can work on live sound as a monitor engineer where you set up and break down the audio system, You can work in film as a sound mixer where you get the dialogue on set, or you can work in post-production and focus on sound effects, including creating them, taking them from a library.
Audio engineers can work in preproduction, production and post production.
In pre-production audio engineers develop ideas, which will be used at the production phase
In the production stage recording of the audio takes place
Post production is where the product produced at recording stage is compiled edited and fined tuned.
The traditional audio engineer works in post-production. Generally, we think of audio engineers as people responsible for mixing, mastering and recording. Audio engineers usually work with musicians and often can have their own studios.
A sound designer creates sound by combining different sounds together or creating sounds from scratch or using virtual instruments. This is where the effects are used to enhance sounds.
This is where vocals and instruments are created and arranged. Do not think of music producers as just working with musicians. Many music producers can provide audio for video games and movies as well. In music production is where mixing and mastering of tracks often takes place.
Many music producers also work in orchestras for concerts, and musical theatre performances.
Music producers can even be composers and DJ’s.
To become a producer for high profile musicians or to work in movie studios, you will have to be amongst the more skilled professionals.
Most of the jobs in this job category are concentrated in cities in which entertainment activities are concentrated. Therefore, the best prospects are in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and Chicago.
A far as music production is concerned, the growth in jobs is expected to average around 1% to 2028.
One of the obstacles to growth in jobs for orchestras, opera companies and other musical groups is obtaining funding. Many music groups are non-profits that depend on donations, ticket sales and corporate sponsorships.
Aditionally federal budgets for schools have to be allocated to the most important academic activities, and this could hamper growth in this job sector.
One category of jobs that is finding momentum is free lance work, as well as the potential for people to make money on social media by displaying and selling their skills.
According to the US Bureau of labor statistics, the median annual income for music directors and composers was $49 630. The lowest 10% of earners made an average of $21 640, whilst the highest 10% of earners made $112 820.
A Foley artist re creates sound for film , video and other media in post production. This is essentially the production of sound effects that enhance audio quality. Foley artists tend to work in the film and gaming industries.
A Foley artist will attempt to match a scene with the sound on the screen. So a when a car in a video game starts , moves and accelerates, each of these stages will have a different sounds at different times, and a Foley makes sure that the sound and the picture are in sync.
A composer writes music. The music can be vocal or instrumental.
How can you get a job in the field
Learn how to master and mix yourself
Work for someone who arranges sound for a live performance. This can be someone who does sound in bars or clubs or live performances.
You could start at a local church as this is where you can get experience at a low cost. If you know people who work in a studio then it is best to work with them and learn from them.
Go to school
You can study sound engineering and audio engineering courses at a course or University. Here you will know and learn about sound at a technical level. This will then give you a great chance of getting into the industry in a very formal way.