Updated on Wednesday 6 March 2013
International students considering careers in recording engineering have a large variety of options available to them. Most jobs in recording engineering can be grouped into four categories: recording music, live music, film and television, and broadcasting. International students can choose between these careers in recording engineering based on their own specific interests and skills.
A degree in recording engineering opens a number of doors to recent graduates. The most commonly thought-of jobs lie in recording music, but international students can also find careers in live music, film, broadcasting, and video games. The jobs offered in these categories are widely varied, and recording engineering students are bound to find the job suited to their specific interests and talents.
A large number of jobs in recording engineering lie in recording music. These jobs include music producer, studio engineer, recording engineer, assistant engineer, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, and electronic musician. A music producer oversees the creation of music on an album. They are often competent arrangers, composers, musicians or songwriters. The music producer makes the songwriting and arrangement adjustment necessary to make an album more marketable. A studio engineer works within a studio, either with a producer or independently, and a recording engineer is skilled in the process of recording sound. Larger studios often employ assistant engineers who help with the placement of microphones, session breakdowns, and occasionally rough mixes. This allows them the experience they need in order to become full-time engineers. A mixing engineer creates mixes of multi-track recordings. He or she incorporates the different recorded elements of music to make the final version of a song. Mixing engineers are often formally trained in a music background in addition to their degree in audio or recording engineering. A mastering engineer mixes the final stereo tracks that the mixing engineer produces. He or she is responsible for the final edit of an album before commercial duplication and release. A mastering engineer is judged by his or her ability to make a mix that sounds appealing to all listeners, regardless of their playback systems and the environment. Because of the large variety of systems available, this is a difficult task to manage. International students interested in both the technical aspects of careers in recording engineering and in creating their own music might consider careers as electronic musicians. Electronic musicians create music using synthetic sounds generated with equipment such as synthesizers, samplers, drum machines or music sequencers.
Another option for students interested in careers in recording engineering is in live music. These jobs include live sound engineer, foldback or monitor engineer, and systems engineer. A live sound engineer deals with sound reinforcement at a live event. Their duties include the planning and installation of speakers, cabling and equipment, and mixing sound during the show. They are responsible for live sound mixing, which is the process of creating the “mix” that the audience and performers at a live event hear by combining and processing a number of audio signals together. Live sound engineers are also responsible for the set up and removal of sound reinforcement systems. This involves unloading the equipment, moving it all into the venue, setting up the systems and then sound-checking. After the show, the live sound engineers and techs must tear down reload the sound system for the tour's next show. The foldback or monitor engineer is the life sound engineer running foldback during a live event. “Foldback” is an outdated term that refers to the practice of folding back audio signals from the FOH (Front of House) mixing console to the stage so that musicians are able to hear themselves while performing. Monitor engineers generally have a separate audio system from the FOH engineer, and they use it to manipulate what each performer on stage hears. The FOH engineer controls what the audience hears. A systems engineer is responsible for the design setup of modern PA systems. He or she is referred to as the “crew chief” on tour, as he or she is responsible for the performance and day-to-day job requirements of the audio crew.
Other jobs in recording engineering lie in the film and television industry. These include audio post-production, music and dialogue editor, and location recordist. Audio post-production refers to the production that occurs between recording in the studio and the completion of a master recording. It involves sound design, sound editing, audio mixing, and adding effects. A dialogue editor assembles, edits, and synchronizes all the dialogue in a film or television production. This involves smoothing out the volume equalization. A location recordist is responsible for recording all sound recording on set during the filmmaking or television production for later inclusion in the finished product. He or she is responsible for all aspects of production sound including the hiring of technicians, planning equipment setup, and ordering and preparing sound equipment.
The broadcasting business offers several jobs in recording engineering for international students to consider, including studio manager and broadcast engineer. A studio manager is involved in the operation of studio equipment, and oversees the technical quality of radio programs. He or she ensures that each contributor to the program is an equal volume and that every instrument is heard at the correct relative volume. A broadcast engineer sets up, operates, and maintains the equipment for radio and television broadcasts, concerts, sound recordings, and movies and in office and school buildings. He or she maintains broadcast automation systems for the studio and automatic transmission systems for the transmitter plant. Broadcast engineers also maintain radio towers, ensuring that they have the proper lighting and painting.
A final option for international students interested in careers in recording engineering is game audio designer engineer. Game audio designer engineers deal with the sound aspects of video game development.
Recording engineering offers a number of diverse options for students interested in pursuing careers in the field. A degree in recording engineering makes possible a variety of careers, whether your interest be in recording music, live music, film and television, or broadcasting.