What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Sound Designer?

producer and sound designer collaborating on set

The idea of designing the audio experience of a movie, video game, or other media is something that many people dream about. But what does it take to make those dreams a reality? By learning what qualifications are required to find a job in sound design, you too can be ready to join the field.

Why Do You Want to Be a Sound Designer?

This is an important question to ask yourself as a way of verifying that this is the career path for you. Some people discover their love of sound design through film. If you’re the type of person who grew up paying attention to the score and sound effects in the movies you watched, then you’ve likely developed a desire to create the sound behind films and media.

Sound design is a job that takes ample creativity. Those who succeed at it are always questioning and looking for outside-the-box ways to make new things or solve problems. While creativity is a skill that anyone can learn, those who have a natural tendency for it are the ones who are the most driven to excel in sound design.

What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Sound Designer?

Jobs in sound design, like other roles rooted in creativity, don’t come with the same formal requirements as other professions. Those who go to school for sound design are generally preferred by employers. It’s a way of setting yourself apart from the other recruits, by communicating your qualifications and commitment to the craft.

The catch-22 with breaking into sound design without a degree is that employers often look at your experience in the industry. If you have no experience to speak of, it may be next to impossible to land those first few gigs and prove yourself as an audio expert. And even if you do luck into a gig without prior experience, you may find that you’re not up to task when it’s your chance to really test out your skills.

In some cases, though, a degree is required by some employers before they’ll even look at your resume. The best place to pursue sound design academically is at a creative arts school because they surround you with other artistic minds, providing the synergy that comes with interdisciplinary collaboration.

What Do You Learn During a Film and Sound Design Program?

These programs are designed to prepare you for working in the film industry. Students are therefore required to study a range of subjects, which provides a holistic approach to the role of sound designer. Here are some of the key courses you’ll take on your journey through a sound design program.

Introduction to Pro Tools

Pro Tools is one of the most important pieces of software you’ll use as a sound designer. This class covers the basics of the digital audio workstation to ensure that you have a solid foundation to take full advantage of its advanced capabilities. You’ll get to work on real audio projects using Pro Tools and hear the fruits of your labors, experiencing how big of a difference this tool can make when used to its full potential.

Audio Engineering

It’s impossible to have a successful career in audio without a firm handle on how to use your tools. The audio engineering course includes a rundown of all the equipment a sound designer interfaces with, providing hands-on lessons that give you a real sense of what life in this career is actually like.

Audio Post-Production

A substantial part of the filmmaking process takes place after the initial filming phase is complete. This class covers the various types of audio that are recorded in post, teaching techniques for inserting ADR lines and sound effects. You’ll learn how to make seamless additions to a project’s audio mix that enhance what was already there, without distracting from it.

Video Production

Even if you’re working exclusively on the audio side of film and video, it’s still crucial to understand how the visual side of the equation works. In this part of the program, you create video projects from start to finish. You’ll get to experience firsthand how many different elements come together for even the simplest videos.

The projects in this class involve making your own video productions, giving you a real sense of what it’s like to be in the director’s chair. And these assignments will help you far beyond the scope of getting a good grade in class: You can put these video projects directly into your portfolio and use them as examples of your work for potential employers.


Editing is a critical skill for anyone in film and sound design. It’s important to identify not only what needs to be edited but how to go about doing it. Many films are saved in the editing process, while others have their original intent skewed by a botched editing job. With this editing course, you’ll learn various techniques for taking raw audio material with different quality levels and different elements that need to be balanced.


To make a powerful audiovisual presentation, you must have something of substance to work from. Great films and videos start with a great script, and this class teaches you how to construct one. From standard scriptwriting format to the basic narrative structure of different types of films and videos, you’ll be given all the information and practice necessary to masterfully craft scripts of your own.

Visual Effects

The effects seen on screen can make or break a video presentation. If they’re overdone or executed poorly, they can completely distract from and overshadow the true aim of the picture. The visual effects class shows you how to make these effects happen as well as covering which ones are best for any given situation.

Video Post-Production

With any video project, just as is the case with the audio, the visual material always needs additional work, once the initial production process is complete. With this part of the program, you’ll learn how to identify where post-production work needs to happen and learn the tools and techniques necessary to make it happen.

Demo Reel Production

Whether you’ve been hired to help showcase someone else’s talent or you’re trying to efficiently package your own, producing demo reels is a valuable skill to have. You’ll learn what producers, agents, and talent scouts are looking for so you can craft an eye-grabbing, well-paced demo reel that may be your foot in the door.

Introduction to Media Careers

To provide a full representation of the various fields within the industry, this introductory course runs the full gamut. You’ll learn about radio, television, film, and video and find out what daily life is like and what skills are required to work in each of them.

Business Management for Media Professionals

Even in this highly creative field, the artistic side can’t thrive unless the business isn’t taken care of. This class focuses on managing all types of projects from big to small, and everything from marketing to human resources.

Principles of Design

This course is focused on the nuts and bolts of sound design, the various elements that make up the big picture. You’ll learn how to avoid muddiness in your mixes and the best ratio of music, dialogue, and sound effects in any given type of film or scene.

Filmmaking and Sound Design Capstone

To round off your audio education, the capstone is a culmination of everything you’ve learned in film and sound. It’s one of the final steps before you set off on your career, so it’s an important step to review everything from top to bottom. This integrative experience is like the final piece in the puzzle that brings all the working parts together to function as a whole.

Film and Sound Design Program

Do you have the qualifications to become a sound designer? The Film and Sound Design program offers an occupational degree that immerses college students in the world and industry of film and sound design. IPR’s condensed program allows students to earn a multi-skill, multi-functional Occupational Associate of Applied Science Degree in as little as two years. Students learn hands-on, entry-level skills in every aspect of the film business: story, preproduction, production, and post-production for video and audio. Work as a part of a team to produce your own film- from concept and storyboard, to production and editing – you’ll graduate with a portfolio of work to showcase your creativity and launch your career in the exciting Film Industry.

If you are interested in a career in film and sound design you should tour our Minneapolis creative arts college, see the labs, and meet our staff. Call 1-612-351-0631 or contact admissions to make arrangements.