Sound Engineering Career Guide

17 Nov 2015



Sound Engineering Career Guide

17 Nov 2015

Sound Engineering is not always a completely understood term or vocation. 

What most folk perceive as the role of a sound engineer is to think of that guy who sits behind a massive mixing console in a recording studio.

This of course is one of the sound engineering functions that are fulfilled but there are so many other different roles one can perform in the wonderful world of being a sound technician.

Sound is everywhere

Sound plays such a pivotal role in everyday life, its ubiquity makes us almost forget the influence it has on our mood, feelings and actions.

Sound engineering therefore plays a crucial role in our daily lives, whether it involves recording music, spoken voice or creating soundscapes, simply delivering quality sound to a live audience, be it via public address system, transmitting on radio, television or even online.

Sound engineering is all about taking responsibility for the delivery of sound no matter what the medium. This may be mixing of sound at a venue, maintaining a broadcast, mixing and recording in a studio or even the maintenance and repair of sound equipment.

Sound engineering also requires one to understand the correct use of equipment such as the microphones, amplification, acoustic demands of a room/ venue and much more – all for the sole purpose of ensuring that the audience (in whatever form the sound is delivered – recorded, live or broadcast) receives the desired experience.

Sound Engineering Responsibilities

Sound recording engineers must have good communication and interpersonal skills, to work in a team, offer ideas and take on board other people’s requirements and expectations.

  • Selecting and ensuring that the correct equipment is being used for the task at hand e.g. in a recording environment selecting a microphone to record an acoustic guitar will differ to what is needed for drums. In a live setting venue acoustics will influence equipment requirements too.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of all equipment. The sound engineer should have a thorough knowledge and understanding on how to correctly set up and place equipment 
  • Risk assessment – for live sound and/or sound installations, public safety should be considered to reduce risk.
  • Using your knowledge to create the right artistic effect
  • Be able to record sound, speech and music in formal recording environments as well as live and/or outdoors
  • Maintaining and being in charge of the recording and/or mixing desk to ensure sound-quality is maintained
  • Working closely with the artists and other members of the sound team for monitoring and recording work
  • Ensuring that all sound equipment is serviced, maintained and repaired   

Sound Engineering Skills

Sound engineering requires one to be both creative and technically minded.  Good problem solving skills are an excellent attribute to foster as is the ability to think quickly and inventively.

  • People Skills – Setting up sound entails working in a team to create content for people
  • Reading – You won’t be expected to read 1,000 page novels but you will no doubt find yourself poring over a fair share of user manuals in your life as a sound technician.
  • Critical Thinking –  Sound engineering often demands one to figure our alternative methods for better results. A desire to think outside the box is a great attribute to harness.
  • Team Work – Very little sound engineering tasks (unless you’ve been asked to clean the amps after an outdoor gig) are done exclusively on your own. Working in a team or managing a team is part of the job.
  • Active Learning  –  Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Coordination –  Delivering sound no matter what the medium requires a coordinated sequence of events and system to be on place.
  • Operation and Control –   Controlling the operations of equipment or systems.
  • Monitoring –   Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Problem Solving:  Sound is an evolving entity. Between the challenge of delivering the best possible sound and the challenges technology and equipment may  present, problems will arise and solutions sought. Be ready for it.

Sound Engineering Career Guide

Studio Music Production

  • Tracking Engineer
  • Overdub Engineer
  • Editing Engineer
  • Mixing Engineer
  • Mastering Engineer

Live Sound Music

  • Front of House Engineer
  • Monitor Mixer
  • Location Recording Engineer


  • Sound effects engineer
  • Stage Sound and Front of House Support
  • Recording Engineer

Broadcast TV

  • Dialog Engineer
  • Location Engineer
  • Sound Effects Engineer
  • Mixing Engineer
  • Broadcast engineer


  • Location Recording
  • Foley Engineer
  • Sound Effects Engineer
  • Sound Design Engineer
  • Mix Engineer


  • Broadcast Engineer
  • Voiceover Engineer
  • Location Engineer

Cable TV

  • Location Engineer
  • Voiceover Engineer
  • Sound Effects
  • Sound Design Engineer
  • Mixing Engineer

Video Games

  • Sound Design


  • Recording Engineer
  • Voiceover Engineer
  • Sound Effects
  • Mixing Engineer

SAE offers both a one year Higher Certificate in Sound Production and a 3 year Bachelor of Arts in Sound Production.

A brand new Live Production Short Course will also be offered in 2016. This is ideal for those already involved in sound engineering who wish to improve their understanding of how to set up Live sound.