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Studio sound engineer Audio engineer, recording engineer

Sound engineers work in studios and make recordings of music, speech and sound effects.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements, but you’ll need a good knowledge of music and recording technology. You may also find it useful to understand physics and electronics.

You could gain knowledge of recording technology by:

  • taking a music technology course at college or university
  • starting as a runner or an assistant in a recording studio
  • working on community music events, DJ projects, hospital or community radio, or mixing and recording music in a home studio
You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Joint Audio Media Education Support (JAMES) has more information about becoming a studio sound engineer.

2. Skills required

You’ll need: 

  • good hearing, for distinguishing sound quality
  • a good sense of pitch, timing and rhythm
  • a knowledge of electronics and acoustics
  • practical skills
  • patience
  • the ability to cope with long hours and tight deadlines

3. What you'll do

You’ll use electronic equipment to record sound for many different uses, like:

  • commercial music recordings
  • radio, TV, film and commercials
  • corporate videos
  • websites
  • computer games and other types of interactive media

Your day-to-day duties might involve:

  • planning recording sessions with producers and artists
  • setting up microphones and equipment in the studio
  • making sure the volume and recording levels are set correctly
  • operating recording equipment and adding effects
  • recording each instrument or item onto a separate track
  • mixing tracks to produce a final ‘master’ track
  • logging recordings and other details of the session in the studio archive

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £40,000

Freelance earnings can vary, depending on your reputation and what you can negotiate.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll mainly work in recording studios. 

You’ll need to be flexible about working hours, which can be long and irregular. You may need to work in the evening, at night or at the weekend, depending on when artists and producers are available.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in a particular technical skill, become a music producer, studio manager, or start your own recording studio.

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Last updated: 14 December 2016