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Sound Engineering Technicians

At a Glance

  • Use a variety of equipment, from mixing boards to meters
  • Sometimes work at live performances
  • Many record music
  • Often work alone
  • May work overtime to meet deadlines
  • Train through one- or two-year programs

Career summary

Sound engineering technicians use equipment to record, copy, and edit music and voice.

#No alternate titles

Sound engineering technicians use many types of recording equipment. They set up microphones to amplify sounds. They use mixing boards to control the amount of input from different performers. For example, while recording a band, they may increase or decrease the volume of the drums. They adjust the recording level, volume, and tone quality to achieve the desired sound. Technicians are responsible for maintaining all their sound equipment.

Sometimes technicians work at live performances. They mix and edit voices and music using control boards. Technicians also record actors to add the actors' voices to the sound tracks of movies or TV shows. They may also add sound effects and music.

Many technicians record music. Before the recording session, they usually talk to the musicians and producers to learn what type of sound and emotion the musicians want the final recording to convey. This helps them know what equipment they will need and how to arrange the microphones to achieve those effects. Technicians keep logs of their recording sessions to track who and what they record each day.

Occasionally technicians take existing music and re-master it. This means they take the original recording and try to remove imperfections, such as background hiss or damage.

Related careers

This career is part of the Arts, Audio/Visual Technology, and Communications cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to sound engineering technicians.

Common work activities

Sound engineering technicians perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, sound engineering technicians:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Sound engineering technicians frequently:

It is important for sound engineering technicians to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for sound engineering technicians to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Sound engineering technicians need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a sound engineering technician, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Many sound engineering technicians learn their skills through formal training. Many colleges and technical schools offer programs in broadcast technology. Most programs are one to two years in length.

Private schools also offer sound engineering technology programs. However, the kind and quality of these programs varies greatly. Check with employers to see which schools they prefer. In addition, ask the schools for the names of employers where they have placed graduates. Make sure the school has the type of training you want, up-to-date equipment, and qualified instructors.

Work experience

A job as a technician in a school sound-recording studio or radio station provides good hands-on experience. Building electronic equipment from hobby kits and learning how to use an amateur radio also are useful.

On-the-job training

As a new technician, you perform routine tasks while closely supervised by an experienced sound technician or engineer. Training may last up to one month.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be audiovisual and broadcast technicians. This occupation includes sound engineering technicians. Training lasts seven to 52 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link).

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

In the motion picture industry, employers hire beginning technicians as assistants. They prefer to hire assistants who have experience as sound technicians. Experience may be from internships or volunteer work. Employers hire experienced sound technicians on a picture-by-picture basis. Technicians who have built strong reputations in their field are most likely to find work.

In the music industry, technicians are hired as employees of recording studios. These employers prefer to hire technicians who have completed formal training programs. They look for employees who can get along with a variety of people.

Costs to workers

Some workers are required to join a union and pay an initiation fee and monthly dues. Some workers join professional associations or trade groups, which may have annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Sound engineering technicians (SOC 27-4014)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $13.82 $21.07 $35.08 $48.35 $67.32
Monthly $2,395 $3,651 $6,079 $8,379 $11,667
Yearly $28,750 $43,830 $72,970 $100,570 $140,020
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
    Vancouver Hourly $15.86 $17.19 $19.55 $23.17 $27.49
Monthly $2,749 $2,979 $3,388 $4,015 $4,764
Yearly $33,000 $35,760 $40,678 $48,188 $57,185
United States Hourly $12.35 $15.99 $25.19 $38.35 $56.54
Monthly $2,140 $2,771 $4,365 $6,646 $9,798
Yearly $25,680 $33,260 $52,390 $79,770 $117,600

(1) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. The technician's level of experience, skill, and responsibility also affect wages.

Sound engineering technicians who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Sound Engineering Technicians (SOC 27-4014)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 165 15.2% 16.1% 21
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 17 5.9% 15.2% 2
    King County 133 16.5% 19.6% 17
United States 15,900 1.3% 5.2% 1,700

National employment

Jobs for sound engineering technicians at television stations are available in big and small cities. In contrast, music recording studios and motion picture production companies are usually located in major cities. Jobs with these employers are concentrated in Los Angeles and New York City.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand is expected to show little to no change. Technological advances will reduce the need for technicians. However, the industry will continue to need technicians to improve the sound quality of shows and movies.

Turnover in this occupation is high. Most openings occur as people leave the industry for other jobs in the electronics field. Technicians with an associate degree in broadcast technology have the best job prospects. Job prospects are expected to be best in small cities and towns. This is because of strong competition in metropolitan areas.

Other resources

Audio Engineering Society (external link)
551 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1225
New York, NY 10176
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
IATSE Local #15 (external link)
2800 First Avenue, Suite 231
Seattle, WA 98121
National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America (external link)
501 - 3rd Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
National Association of Broadcasters (external link)
1771 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Showbizjobs.com (external link)
TV Jobs (external link)
Washington Filmworks (external link)
1411 4th Avenue, Suite 1000
Seattle, WA 98101


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster