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What does an Audio Engineer do?

By Carol Francois
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By whiteplane — On May 31, 2011

@tigers88 - You are right that there are a lot of these kinds of jobs. Any place that has live music or really live sound of any kind needs an audio engineer. They also work in recording studios of all kinds and are involved in any project to capture sound.

Despite the fact that they are in high demand, you will not often see these jobs listed in public classified listings. There are a few places you can look though

Post an ad online offering your services free or cheap. Be sure not to be picky about the kinds of bands your record. A good sound engineer will be able to work with any style of music.

Get involved in your local music community and be sure to meet promoters and club owners. These types are always looking for a good and reliable engineer.

Become a member of the audio engineering society. They maintain a job board and have lots of great information for job seekers. Hope this helps. Good luck!

By tigers88 — On May 30, 2011

Where can I find audio engineering job?. It seems like there must be a ton of them but I never see anything listed in the classifieds.

By nextcorrea — On May 29, 2011

@jonrss - Great point. It is pretty rare these days to see an acoustic concert where there is no electric amplification whatsoever. That means that is almost every concert being performed, the engineer has a role to play in how the music sounds. It is up to the musicians to make sure that things sound good coming out of their instruments, but once the notes leave the strings etc it is up to the engineer to make sure the things sound good coming out of the speakers. It is a difficult job and a huge responsibility.

By jonrss — On May 28, 2011

Having a good audio engineer in a club is almost as important as having a bathroom or a well stocked bar. The skills of the engineer can literally make or break a show.

I was once the merch guy for a touring band. We stopped in 23 different cities and the band played the same set in 23 different clubs. It was amazing how much the quality varied. In some places it sounded perfect. The quality of the band was elevated by the audio engineer. But in other towns the sound was terrible all because the engineer was incompetent or lazy. They are kind of like an invisible member of the band. It is on their shoulders how good the music sounds.

By backdraft — On May 27, 2011

@truman12 - If you think about it, it is really difficult to describe the way that things sound. You have to be able to describe more than just loud or soft, muddy or clean. For an audio engineer to do their job successfully they have to have exemplary communication skills and be able to discuss a topic that can be difficult to put into language. Having a background in English can really help this out. It helps prepare you to speak in abstract terms and to develop descriptive words and phrases.

By truman12 — On May 25, 2011

The article mentions that audio engineers needs to take high school classes in English. Why would this be necessary?

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