Digital Recording Arts Technician Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of becoming a digital recording arts technician? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary information to see if a career as a digital recording arts technician is for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Digital Recording Arts Technician

Digital recording arts technicians work in a variety of environments to produce video and sound recordings using the latest digital technology. Read on for more of the pros and cons of the field to see if becoming a digital recording arts technician is the right career fit for you.

PROS of a Digital Recording Arts Technician Career
Salaries can be fairly good (sound engineering technicians averaged $58,670 in 2014)*
No degree required*
Can be self-employed*

CONS of a Digital Recording Arts Technician Career
Competition for jobs is high*
Hours can be long*
Need experience to obtain better paying jobs*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Essential Career Info

Digital recording arts technicians operate the high-tech equipment needed to maintain and troubleshoot technical problems, shoot and record digital film and audio, mix sound and dialogue and make recordings. They work in situations ranging from large movie and music recording studios to schools and government offices to local television and radio stations. They often work under deadline pressure to meet recording deadlines.

Early in their careers, technicians usually work in smaller markets and often must start with more mundane tasks such as setting up and tearing down equipment. Often they work alongside more experienced technicians until they gain the knowledge to move up in the field. Once they have the necessary experience, their job responsibilities increase to include the technological aspects of shooting and recording high quality video and audio. While most technicians work in studios and offices, some work outdoors in all types of weather conditions for long periods of time. Some experienced technicians become self-employed, taking on recording tasks for specific music and/or film projects.

Job Prospects

The number of people seeking positions in the movie, music and broadcast fields is greater than the available jobs, resulting in steep competition for available positions. The BLS predicted jobs to increase by about 9% from 2012 through 2022, which is about average for all careers. The constant demand for new movies and music, as well as the growing need for technicians proficient in the latest digital technology, means the industry will stay solid. However, constant technological improvements that streamline the industry are resulting in the need for fewer technicians and could affect job growth.

Salaries

Salaries for digital recording arts technicians vary greatly, depending on the size and location of the market, the specific job duties and a candidate's experience. Specific job titles vary; the average annual salary for sound engineering technicians in May 2014, according to the BLS, was around $58,670, while those in the category of audio and video equipment technician made only $46,040. Jobs in larger cities pay more, and technicians with extensive knowledge of the field and its technological advances can compete for higher paying salaries offered by major movie and music studios.

What Are the Requirements?

There are no specific educational requirements for an individual seeking a career in this field. However, an associate's degree or a certificate from a technological school in an area like recording arts, digital recording technology or digital film and video arts can greatly increase your chances of success. Among the skills you will need are:

  • Technical skills
  • Advanced computer knowledge
  • Attention to detail
  • Troubleshooting ability
  • Communication skills

Job Postings from Real Employers

A review of digital recording arts technician job openings in June 2012 revealed that almost all potential employers required experience and/or a postsecondary degree or certification in the field. Many larger employers require a minimum of at least five years of experience or equivalent education. To give you an idea of the varied skills and experience employers seek, consider the following job listings:

  • A production company in North Carolina was seeking a concert audio technician to maintain, assemble and operate technical equipment for recording, amplifying, enhancing and mixing sound. The successful candidate would assess the acoustics at various music forums, consult with producers and work with digital recording equipment to achieve artistic objectives. The position required experience in digital recording technology, a strong computer background, the ability to lift heavy objects and good communication skills.
  • An audiobook publisher in Michigan sought candidates to record sound for its books. The position involved setting up and recording sound book productions, editing and mixing, troubleshooting problems and producing sound files. Ideal candidates had a college background, experience in digital recording software and the ability to be detail-oriented.
  • The mayor's office in Baltimore posted an ad for a recording studio technician to work with youth in a recording studio. Job duties included operating and maintaining sound recording equipment, working with students on special projects, teaching specialized recording classes and regulating the technological aspects of the equipment. Candidates were required to have a high school diploma or GED, three years of experience or a combination of education and experience.
  • A major recording company advertised for an audio lead at its San Francisco digital arts center. The successful candidate would lead a team of people in creating and implementing high quality audio content for video games. The audio lead would be responsible for managing the team, supervising specifications and coordinating production schedules. A college degree in the field was preferred, as well as a minimum of seven years experience and extensive knowledge of computer systems and digital recording equipment.

How to Stand Out

The best way to get noticed in the world of digital arts recording is to have experience, and one way to gain it is by enrolling in an associate's degree or certificate program. Associate's degrees take two years to complete and certificate programs take between one and two. Bachelor's and master's degree programs are also available and are also designed to provide you with experience and skills to increase your marketability. You'll learn about music recording, digital editing, digital audio, multi-track recording, visual effects and a host of other skills.

Another advantage to seeking a postsecondary degree is that many schools help students and graduates find internships and/or jobs. College programs allow you to network with working professionals, and many have strong relationships within the field that can lead to career opportunities. Joining a professional recording arts organization, such as InfoComm International or the Society of Broadcast Engineers, can also help you stand out. Groups like these offer certification and continuing education programs, as well as job listings, career development programs, internships and mentoring.

Other Career Paths

Film and Video Editor

Film and video editors record and manipulate images for movies and television, and these days almost all of them use digital equipment. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree in film or broadcasting and several years working as an assistant before being able to move up. As with digital recording arts technicians, experience is the key to success in this career.

Salaries for film and video editors are generally higher than those for digital recording arts technicians. According to the BLS, the average salary for film and video editors was about $67,000 in May 2011, with the top 10% of earners taking home more than $125,000 per year. However, competition for jobs in this field is fierce. Employment growth for film and video editors is expected to be only around 5% between 2010 and 2020, which is slower than average for all occupations. The number of applicants far outweighs the available jobs, so editors with experience stand the best chance at finding success.

Electronic Engineering Technician

If you like working with computers, a career as an electronic engineering technician might be an alternative career possibility. Electronic engineering technicians design computer circuitry, build computer systems, replace computer components and maintain and calibrate equipment and systems. In most cases, you'll need an associate's degree in the field or certification through a technical school.

The average salary for this position was about $57,000 in May 2011, reports the BLS, with an expected job growth rate of only 2% from 2010-2020, which means little or no growth within this industry. As computer and electronic systems become more integrated, the need for qualified technicians may improve.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • Master of Fine Arts - Media Design
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Music Production (Campus)
      • B.S. - Recording Arts
      • BS - Film (Campus)
      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
      • B.S. - Music Production
      • BS - Audio Production
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Purdue University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Communication
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Communication
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS Human Communications
      • B.S. General Studies - Communication
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      • A.S. General Studies - Communications
    Certificate
      • Undergraduate Certificate - Communications
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    7. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
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    8. Regent University

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    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
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      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
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    9. Queens University of Charlotte

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    10. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA in Humanities (Communication Studies)

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • BS - Music Production (Campus)
  • B.S. - Recording Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Communication
  • Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Communication

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • BS Human Communications
  • A.S. General Studies - Communications
  • Undergraduate Certificate - Communications

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Advertising and Public Relations

What is your highest level of education completed?