A Comprehensive Guide To A Career in Sound Engineering

Sound is an extremely important and yet often-overlooked aspect of our lives and in the media and entertainment industry. Whether you talk about a concert that left you overwhelmed, or a film that had an impactful background score, or a theatrical production that gave you goosebumps, or even a video game that got your adrenaline pumping thanks to the audio effects and music - it is all down to the 'sound'.

Can you imagine what films like The Dark Knight, Inception or Joker without their background score and OST would feel like? Dull, dry and dreary, to say the least. Thanks to the unrestrained advancements in technology (both analog and digital), the quality of audio that we receive as an audience in every walk of life has improved drastically. From movies and songs to live gigs and games, the sound industry is scaling new heights with every passing year.

The time is ripe for those who might be considering a career in this industry. Sound engineering in India, especially over the last two decades, has become a mainstream career choice for people who have a penchant for audio and sound technology.

Here is everything you need to know about a career in sound engineering.

What is sound engineering?

Sound engineering, in simple words, is the process of capturing, recording, editing, manipulating, mixing, reproducing and delivering any type of sound using a variety of mechanical equipment and digital devices. The individual responsible for doing this is referred to as a sound engineer or audio engineer. According to Wikipedia, an audio engineer is someone who -

"works on the recording, manipulation using equalization and electronic effects, mixing, reproduction, and reinforcement of sound. Audio engineers work on the technical aspect of recording - the placing of microphones, pre-amp knobs, the setting of levels."

What is the role of a sound engineer?

Contrary to popular belief, sound engineering involves a lot more than simply messing around with knobs on a complex console. The primary role of a sound engineer is to use their technical skills and knowledge to record or create crystal clear sound for a variety of purposes on different platforms. Producing impeccable audio for films, music, television, radio, web and live events is the key responsibility of a sound engineer.

Sound engineers are often required to collaborate with diverse production professionals, including composers, artists, music producers, film directors, editors, TV news production teams, studio managers, radio jockeys, etc

What are the other related occupations in sound engineering?

  • Studio Engineer
  • Sound Recordist (on set/location)
  • Music Composer
  • Music Arranger
  • Film Sound Designer
  • Game Sound Designer
  • Mixing Engineer for Films and Music
  • Live Sound Engineer for Concerts and Events
  • Music Producer
  • DJ / Electronic Music Producer
  • Promo Producer
  • Radio Sound Engineer

Education and skills required to become a sound engineer

Sound engineering is a highly evolved and complex field of work and hence, regardless of what online articles or ads claim, it is next to impossible to learn the nuances of the trade without formal training. Several institutes across India offer dedicated degree or diploma programs in sound engineering and music production for those who wish to pursue this area of work as a profession.

Here are some of the essential skills you need in order to become a well-rounded sound engineer :

  • Solid foundation in subjects like Physics and Mathematics
  • Sound technical knowledge
  • Ability to grasp complex concepts quickly
  • Familiarity with new technology and digital media
  • Troubleshooting and problem-solving abilities
  • Good communication skills
  • An ear for music and high-quality audio
  • Ability to adapt to constant upgrades in technology

What is the scope of sound engineering in India?

Many students often ask - "Is sound engineering a good career option?" The simple answer to that question is - YES! As mentioned above, it is a wonderful time for aspiring sound engineers to learn the nitty-gritties of the subject and enter the industry. The sound industry in India is thriving and will continue to generate more and more opportunities for qualified professionals across a wide range of avenues.

The possibilities are truly endless for sound engineers in India, with opportunities that exist across platforms like :

  • Film
  • Television
  • Audio for Game
  • Audio for Digital/ Web
  • Advertising
  • Music studios
  • Theatre
  • Live events
  • Radio
  • Audio for Digital Application developers

Cities across India and the world that offer sound engineering opportunities

Cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata offer a multitude of opportunities to qualified sound engineers. If we talk globally, cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, London, Dublin, Paris, San Jose, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne and Dubai are best known for their bustling media and entertainment industry, which correlates to lots of opportunities for sound engineering professionals.

What are the career opportunities after the sound engineering course?

A sound engineer can either work in-house with a production company or in a studio, or work as a freelancer. As mentioned above, there is a wide array of roles that sound engineering graduates can choose to specialize in, including that of a sound recordist, studio engineer, sound editor, broadcast engineer, editor, music editor, re-recording mixing specialist, sound effects (SFX) editor, recording engineer, mix engineer, Foley artist or sound designer.

Thanks to the massive number of studios peppered all over the country (and abroad), there is no dearth of opportunities for sound engineers. With the right skillset and education, the world really is your oyster.

What are the fees for a sound engineering course?

TWhile each college will have its own unique fee structure, here is the range in terms of how much institutes in India charge for a three-year-long degree in sound engineering:

  • Rs. 6 lakhs - Rs. 12 lakhs

The sound engineering course fees for diploma programs and short-term courses can be anywhere between Rs. 2,500,00 to Rs. 5 lakhs.

This usually includes unlimited access to all the facilities, gear, software, tools, workshops and seminars that the college offers to its students.

Disclaimer :

Tuition fees are finalized by institutions/ university and may differ for each program; it is recommended to get in touch with the institute and confirm the same. The institution does not accept any liability for the changes in currency fluctuation rates.

What is the curriculum of a sound engineering degree course?

Most sound engineering programs will cover the basics of audio before diving into its specific subsets. Here is a quick overview of the various subjects that are a part of a typical sound engineering degree or diploma curriculum :

  • Audio fundamentals
  • Audio signals and systems
  • Physics of sound
  • Sound measuring techniques
  • Analog and digital consoles (DAWs)
  • Studio equipment and recording gear operation
  • Preproduction techniques
  • Recording, editing, mixing and mastering
  • Understanding acoustic environments and studio design
  • Music production
  • Surround sound mixing and music mastering
  • Live sound
  • Film sound
  • Sound design
  • Advanced digital tech and electronic music production
  • Sampling and using MIDI for music production
  • Sound synthesis
  • Software training

What are the eligibility criteria for pursuing a sound engineering degree?

Most colleges in India require you to complete your 12th / high school / equivalent in any stream in order to be eligible for admission to a sound engineering program. Some institutes conduct their own entrance tests and also require you to appear for a personal interview as a part of their student selection process. The sound engineering course eligibility may be different for different colleges, so make certain you check each website thoroughly to be sure. You could also call up the institute and ask their counselors in case you have any doubts.

What are the different tools and technologies you will learn at a sound engineering school?

Modern sound engineering courses are designed to help students learn each and every aspect of the subject. The top institutes in India offer students with ample opportunities to not only learn the theory of sound engineering, but also gain precious practical knowledge of the essential tools and technologies that today's sound engineers use in the industry. Apart from giving students access to world-class studios and facilities, here is a list of gears that you can expect to use and software you will learn in a sound engineering course.

Gear and equipment :

  • Digital Consoles
  • Analog Consoles
  • Avid HD IOs
  • Microphones
  • Preamps
  • Compressors/gates/reverb units/various outboard Gear
  • Midi Keyboard/ Controllers
  • Stereo Monitors
  • Surround Sound Monitors

Software :

  • Pro Tools
  • Ableton Live
  • Logic Pro X
  • Nuendo
  • Reason
  • Cubase

What is the salary of a sound engineer?

According to Payscale.com, entry-level sound engineers can expect to earn up to Rs. 3.5 lakhs per annum. As is the case with any other profession, the salary of a sound engineer increases with experience. Over a period of time, with the right experience, the compensation for sound engineers can go up to Rs. 6 lakhs or even higher. Where you are employed also determines your salary to a certain extent - bigger studios and production houses offer higher pay as compared to small, local setups.

Disclaimer :

Salary estimates are based on salaries submitted anonymously to "Payscale" by individuals belonging to the respective job titles. The numbers stated may fluctuate and the institution does not guarantee the same.

For those who work independently, the remuneration differs from project to project, depending on factors like time, scope of work, effort, etc. As you develop and build your project portfolio, you can start demanding reasonably higher compensation for your efforts.

Tips to get started and hone your sound engineering abilities

Here is some advice for those interested in becoming a sound engineer:

  • Read up everything you can about sound engineering online
  • Attend as many local events, live gigs and concerts at local venues as you can
  • Talk to sound engineers and music producers about their background, experience and process
  • Assist a sound engineer on a project and try to learn on the job
  • Use free apps and tools on your phone / tablet / laptop to experiment with audio and music
  • Audio Engineering 101 - Tim Dittmar
  • Perfecting Sound Forever: The Story of Recorded Music - Greg Milner
  • Behind the Glass: Top Record Producers Tell How They Craft the Hits - Howard Massey
  • Modern Recording Techniques - David Miles Huber
  • Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science - Bob Katz
  • Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen - Michel Chion

What factors to consider when choosing a sound engineering college?

No textbook, podcast or YouTube video can teach you what working on a real project can teach you. A good sound engineering institute (or course) is one that not only gives you a lot of theoretical knowledge, but also empowers you to explore the practical aspects of the field. While there are several good colleges for sound engineering, it might get tricky to select the right one for your higher education. Here is a list of things to consider when choosing a sound engineering college for your degree or diploma :

  • Curriculum - Make sure the curriculum is comprehensive and covers all the subjects mentioned above.
  • Faculty - Look up the faculty members who will be teaching you, their experience in the industry and the projects they have worked on.
  • Infrastructure - It is important that your institute familiarizes you with industry-standard tools and equipment during your course.
  • Practical training - Ask the college about how much weightage it gives to practical assignments and projects. The more the better.
  • Industry exposure - Check who the guest faculty members are, what kind of workshops are conducted and what industry tie-ups the college has.
  • Certifications - Apart from the degree or diploma, some institutes also offer additional certifications by renowned companies such as Avid and Apple.
  • Internship / placement - Make sure the college offers internship opportunities and placement support to its students during and after the completion of the course.

Contemplating a career in sound engineering?

The future of sound engineering as a career path is bright! If you believe you have it in you to break into the world of audio, music, media and sound engineering, take the leap and join a college that offers a comprehensive degree in sound engineering. Browse through Seamedu School of Pro-Expressionism's sound engineering course details by clicking the links below:

Disclaimer :

While the information listed here is research-based with the best attempts to keep it accurate and reliable, the actuals may vary according to the course curriculum, facility-location, and an individual's specialization, experience, current industry scenario, economic conditions, and several other factors. We do not recommend or endorse any views expressed within the third-party information contained here. Employment opportunities or any included salary figures are not guaranteed.