An audio engineer has four areas of responsibility: supervising audio technicians and technologists, project management, working with clients, and providing advice and acting as a resource. An audio engineer is responsible for managing the sound recording or production process. For concerts, the engineer directs a team to provide the best quality sound. In a recording studio, the engineer works with the recording and production team to create the best quality recording possible.
In order to become an audio engineer, most people complete a two- or three-year program at a community or career college. The admission requirements to these programs include high school courses in technology and English. Many people attend specialized recording schools to learn the skills necessary for this career.
People who enjoy interacting with others, have a good ear for music, and are able to maintain their focus find this type of position rewarding. Interpersonal skills and oral communication are highly valued in this role. The best audio engineers' work is so seamless that it appears very easy to do. Recognition for a job well done is typically provided by colleagues and the client. People who need to be publicly recognized for their work will find this job frustrating.
Audio engineers are required to supervise or manage teams of audio technicians and other related professionals. The number of individuals and the breadth of areas they are responsible for vary by industry. In a recording studio, there are fewer people than in a live, concert hall performance.
Project management forms the primary focus of the audio engineer’s day. In this role, he or she is responsible for project planning, creating time lines, organizing regular meetings, working with contractors and clients, and keeping the team on track. For a touring group, each location is an engineering project that needs to be managed.
Interacting with the client is an important part of the role of audio engineer. He or she is typically involved in the initial meeting, reviewing the project plan and determining who will be required to complete the project. Regularly scheduled meetings are usually arranged by the audio engineer, who sets the agenda and brings in team members as needed.
The ability to work well with a wide range of people, resolve problems quickly, and sharing information and experience with staff are important skills. Many audio engineers find that additional courses in team building, effective communication, and mentoring can be very helpful in this role. The dynamic of any team is based on the behavior of the team leader.