How Do I Get Certified in Audio Engineering?

Audio engineer sitting in front of her workstation

Breaking into an exciting career in audio engineering might seem impossible from the outside, since traditionally, this is the type of work where you need experience to move on to greater opportunities. The question is, then, how do you start building experience when you haven’t been hired for a job yet?

Anyone who dreams of finding a job in any of the fields within audio engineering can increase their likelihood of getting hired substantially by acquiring the appropriate certification. It’s an easy way to communicate clearly to your potential employers that you’ve undergone the time and effort to achieve your certification and, equally important, that you’ve obtained that expertise from an accredited source. Obtaining an official certificate is the way that many have gotten their foot in the door, and the work that they did to earn the certification helped them to succeed in the audio engineering role.

How Do I Get Certified in Audio Engineering?

The best way to show that you’re fully prepared to work in the professional world of audio engineering is by completing an audio production program at a creative arts college. This is also the ideal place to learn everything you’ll need to know to succeed in this industry, while gaining the hands-on skills, putting that knowledge into action.

Creative arts colleges tend to have the most experienced faculty with extensive firsthand experience in the subjects that they teach. Programs at creative arts colleges are built from a strong set of core values that lead to more focused curriculum, targeted at furthering each student’s progress in the area of expertise that the course is geared towards. Interdisciplinary schools also give students the opportunity to interact and collaborate with peers of different interests, creating a richer and more dynamic academic experience.

Once you’ve found an audio engineering program that works for, it’s important to look over all the course requirements and commit to fulfilling them. It does you no good to take a course and drop out before finishing the final exams. Academic programs almost always have clear guidelines and expectations, and this helps to make at least one thing certain on your path to a new career.

What Does an Audio Engineer Do?

Before getting your heart set on any career in sound engineering, it’s important to know what the job entails. That’s why learning by experience is such a central aspect of any audio engineering program.

It’s the role of the sound technician or audio engineer to handle every sound needed in a variety of settings. Because of the range in venues, performance types, and the equipment necessary to make each one possible, many audio engineers acquire skills to keep their employment options flexible. Others choose to specialize in one or two types of jobs because it’s what they know and are comfortable with.

Depending on where you live, it might be possible to maintain a steady income stream by selectively working at only your preferred types of venues or environments; more often, full-time audio engineers must be less picky and sometimes step outside of their comfort zone to make their career sustainable. For a beginner, it’s generally best to hone your skills at one or two types of jobs, but you’ll want to start branching out as soon as possible to prevent yourself from growing stagnant and to keep your options open.

Working in the Studio

Some of the most coveted jobs in audio engineering are in broadcasting, both for television and radio. If you feel more comfortable in the studio, a more or less controlled environment, this is likely the best line of work for you. Broadcast work comes with the excitement of thousands or even millions of people seeing your work, all of them relying on you for their source of news or entertainment. As such, those who work in broadcast must have a high level of stress tolerance since, even though they’re not the ones in front of the camera, a substantial amount of pressure falls on the audio engineers’ shoulders.

Managing Live Events

On the other hand, working at live events comes with its own type of high-pressure situations and responsibilities, often being the more chaotic of the two types of work environments. Everything from weather conditions, unruly crowds and performers are all things that live audio engineers might encounter on the job. Running audio at a live show in which not everything goes perfectly, requires quick reflexes and constant responsiveness to what’s happening at the show.

It’s not all stadiums and concert halls, either. Audio engineers are often working in smaller venues like schools and office buildings. Their job is to make sure everything sounds great, optimized for the environment that it’s in and the audience that’s receiving it.

What Do You Learn During an Audio Production Program?

Audio production programs are designed to give students a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that they will build upon. Through a combination of guided coursework and in studio learning experiences, students develop a true sense of what the work is actually like and have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes before making them in the real world.

DAWs and Pro Tools

Basic tools like digital audio workstations are covered, particularly Pro Tools, which is the industry standard in DAWs. By learning how to get the most out of your tools and equipment, aspiring audio engineers can achieve their results without getting hung up in the production maze. These classes teach you how to maximize your workflow which makes it possible for you to produce more and work less.

Editing, Mixing and Mastering

An audio production course gives you the opportunity to work all the way through projects from conception to the final presentation. Instead of completing seemingly unrelated assignments that treat the subject as if it’s only a theoretical thing, audio engineering students get to create something and listen to the fruits of their labor. Students go through the process of editing, mixing, and mastering their work and have something tangible by the end of the process. These finished projects can then be added to students’ portfolios and used as professional work samples.

Lighting and Sound Reinforcement

Additionally, audio production programs teach students how lighting and sound reinforcement systems work. In certain situations, it comes down to the audio engineer to handle both of these responsibilities depending on the size and scope of a project. Whether they are directly responsible for the lighting themselves or not, it’s generally helpful to understand the role and functions of lighting to ensure that their work is complementary.

Music Theory Fundamentals

Besides the techniques behind producing and editing the work of others as well as their own, students also learn the fundamentals of music theory. It’s often necessary to have a basic understanding of how chord structures and rhythmic patterns work, even if the audio engineer isn’t the one playing the music. To be perfectly in sync with the performers or recorded music, an audio engineer needs to understand the rules of music well enough to feel out the right decision at the right time.

What are the Benefits of Attending a Formal Audio Production Program?

Some choose to set out on their own and attempt to learn all the ins and outs of audio production independently. While it is possible to be self-taught in this field, it’s by far the more difficult and less certain route. With the ever-changing and developing technology that’s used by audio engineers in the industry, it’s all too easy to fall into outdated methodologies while receiving your information from unaccredited sources.

Benefit #1: Well-Rounded Education

Students who pursue this field of study, in an academic setting, have the advantage of working through a curriculum that’s devised in the most comprehensive way possible, giving a balanced and well-rounded education. From peers to instructors and other faculty members, each student is pushed deeper into their passion for the work as influences from all sides, inspire them to continue growing. This combination of professional guidance and peer collaboration comes together for a highly immersive experience.

Benefit #2: Prove Your Passion

Working your way through one of these programs means graduating with a certification that employers will take seriously. It’s difficult to prove yourself to broadcast companies and venue owners when all they have is your word. Being certified from a recognized creative arts college makes your capabilities and dedication clear to anyone looking to hire you.

Benefit #3: Career Services

As students near graduation and once they’ve received completed the course and received their certification, there are career services available to help you make the transition from school into your career. This is a big reason why such a high percentage of people who enroll in audio engineering programs dive straight into the professional world after their education is complete.

Audio Production Program

Ready to get certified in audio engineering? The Audio Production and Engineering Program  at the Institute of Production and Recording is an occupational degree program designed to train producer engineers who are entrepreneurs, musically and technically creative, and proficient in modern recording technology and technique. Throughout the program, students are involved in hands-on exercises and real-world studio projects that enable them to apply their knowledge and refine their skills.

At the end of the audio production and engineering program, each student presents a portfolio — a selection of his or her best work to date. This serves as a demo reel for potential employers and clients — an audio resume with professional content that highlights the graduate’s talent and skill.

Contact us today to learn more about the audio production programs and starting a rewarding career.