Sound technician

 23 March 2011

Sound technicians ensure that the best sound possible is available in a variety of venues for performances. They prepare, operate and maintain technical equipment to amplify, enhance, mix or reproduce sound. They work in recording studios, films, radio and television programmes (on set or location) and live performances, including theatre, music and dance.

Junior Alli, sound technician.
Junior Alli, sound technician.

This article is also available in Welsh / Mae’r erthygl hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Sound technicians have a complex and specialised role. Their tasks include: 

  • setting up, testing and operating equipment to suit the acoustics of a location
  • selecting, placing and adjusting microphones
  • monitoring audio signals to make sure sound quality is maintained
  • servicing, maintaining and repairing sound equipment. 

How do I get into working with sound? 

Strong IT skills and an aptitude for science, particularly physics, is a good starting point. You will find it useful to find out how sound equipment such as PA systems and mixing desks work.

Look for opportunities to use these perhaps at school/college or local theatre or music venues. This is an area of work where experience can be as important as qualifications. Work placements are sometimes possible in recording studios or with community or hospital radio. 

There is no set route into working in sound, as there are jobs in a range of different industries and venues.

There is no set route into working in sound, as there are jobs in a range of different industries and venues. At college, courses in electronic engineering, production arts or creative media production could all be useful. 
Apprenticeships at Intermediate and Advanced level may be possible in technical theatre lighting, sound and stage (opting for the sound pathway) or sound recording, engineering and studio facilities.

Although you don’t need a degree to be a sound technician, this is a popular type of work and many entrants have degrees in areas such as:

  • sound technology
  • live sound technology
  • sound production
  • sound engineering
  • audio and music technology
  • sound design
  • technical theatre

You can search for degrees on the UCAS website and take a look at the website for Joint Audio Media Education Support (JAMES), a group of industry organisations that accredit technical theatre and music production courses.  
You may need to start off as a sound assistant or trainee - sometimes called a runner in recording studios or media production. This work may not be well paid and will mean pitching in and helping with whatever is needed. However this is valuable experience and there will be plenty of opportunities to learn from others. 

What can I earn?

Sound technicians may start on around £18-20,000 rising to around £23 - £35,000+ for those with experience and for senior positions. Rates for freelancers will vary widely according to the role and venue. 

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