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TV or film sound technician Production mixer, audio recordist

Sound technicians are responsible for recording the voices and background noise on TV and film shoots.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, but it will help if you have experience. A good knowledge of sound technology and equipment will also be helpful.

You could gain experience by:

  • working on student or community film or radio projects
  • setting up ('rigging') sound equipment for amateur theatre or local bands
  • working for a sound equipment manufacturer or hire company
  • assisting in a recording or editing studio
A college course in a subject like music technology, sound engineering or media production could also develop your knowledge and skills.

You could also do a course run by a private provider, like the National Film and Television School Sound Diploma, which is offered in partnership with the BBC.

Large broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 offer work experience placements.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent hearing
  • excellent practical skills
  • a high level of attention to detail
  • the ability to cope with long hours and tight deadlines

3. What you'll do

You could specialise in:

  • production sound – recording sound on set or location
  • post-production – putting the final soundtrack together in an editing studio

On a production sound team, your day-to-day duties may include:

  • setting up equipment to suit the acoustics and the sound designer’s instructions
  • selecting and placing fixed microphones
  • operating the boom (a microphone on a pole, used to get close to the sound source)
  • checking sound quality
  • recording sound onto digital devices
  • servicing and repairing equipment
  • playing music or sound effects into a live programme

On a post-production team, your duties may include:

  • following a sound designer or sound supervisor's instructions
  • mixing and balancing speech, effects and background music
  • editing speech to fit the action on screen
  • creating extra sound effects and adding them into the soundtrack

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £19,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £28,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £35,000

If you’re freelance, you could negotiate fees based on the type of production and your own track record. The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has information on current pay guidelines. 

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll often work long and irregular hours, including early mornings or late nights, according to the demands of the production. You may also need to be flexible and work at short notice.

For production sound recording, you could work anywhere from studios to outside locations, in all weather conditions. Location work could be anywhere in the UK or overseas. 

Post-production sound editing takes place in soundproofed studios and editing suites.

6. Career path and progression

You could progress from working for a small, regional company or station to working for a large, national one. You could also move into studio management. 

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Last updated: 14 December 2016