Audio technicians ensure that sound equipment functions smoothly at a studio or event. Their expertise is especially important at events where audio equipment is central, such as concerts and conferences. The work attracts many job applicants, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts higher-than-average job growth up to 2022. Audio technicians with experience in the latest technology have the best chances of finding work.
According to the Occupational Information Network, audio technicians work with equipment that includes microphones, audio compressors, noise reduction systems, sound speakers, cables and recording equipment. Their are often responsible for the audio during an entire event, including set up, operation, tear down and maintenance. Audio technicians work individually or as a team, depending on the operation’s complexity and size.
According to BLS, the top industry for audio and video equipment technicians is the motion picture and video industry. Other industries with high levels of employment include commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing; radio and television broadcasting; colleges, universities and professional schools; and promoters of performing arts, sports and similar events.
The Work Environment
Audio technicians work at sports events, concerts, presentations, news conferences, meetings and conventions. Indoors, the environment is usually comfortable, but technicians work outdoors in all types of weather. Technicians working for broadcast stations or the movie industry often have deadlines requiring overtime. In fact, evening, weekend and holiday work are routine in broadcasting.
Learning the Job
Audio technicians usually learn their skills through on-the-job training or post-secondary education. Some employers hire high school graduates as audio assistants and provide on-the-job training. Useful high school classes for a prospective audio tech include electronics, physics, computers and math. However, most jobs require a certificate or associate degree in a related subject, such as broadcast technology. Technical schools and two-year colleges offer these programs.
According to a 2013 BLS study, the national mean hourly wage for audio technicians is $22.03, and the mean annual wage is $45,830. Wages vary depending on the industry, the technician's qualifications and the job location. Eighty percent of technicians earn between $22,500 and $74,350 annually. The BLS wage data also include video equipment technicians.
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