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Recording Engineer

Recording engineers use a variety of techniques and electronic equipment to record, mix, process, manipulate, and edit sound for various media productions.

Also Known As

Audio Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, Music Recording Engineer, Re-recording Mixer, Sound Technician

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5225: Audio and Video Recording Technicians

2006 NOC-S

  • F125: Audio and Video Recording Technicians

2011 NOC

  • 5225: Audio and video recording technicians

2016 NOC

  • 5225: Audio and video recording technicians

2021 NOC

  • 52113: Audio and video recording technicians

2023 OaSIS

  • 52113.00: Audio and video recording technicians
Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Recording engineers mix and balance sound sources for recordings. They record instruments, vocals, and sounds separately. They combine the tracks during the mixing or post-production stage.

Recording engineers are not considered professional engineers and do not engage in the practice of engineering as defined in the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf].

Recording engineers are unlike professional engineers who may design or construct audio systems. Recording engineers use a variety of techniques and electronic equipment to record, mix, process, manipulate, and edit sound for various media productions.

Most recording engineers use computers and digital signal processing equipment such as:

  • Multitrack digital recording equipment
  • Digital audio workstations (DAWs)
  • Hard disc-based computers or samplers

This allows them to:

  • Work in a non-destructive format
  • Work faster and more efficiently
  • Manage complex combinations of vocal, instrumental, and other sound recordings
  • Collaborate with others in locations throughout the world

To achieve the desired sound for projects, recording engineers may work closely with:

The occupation is broad and includes many disciplines. There is a lot of crossover between the skills and duties of the different disciplines. Recording engineers may find themselves fulfilling duties from 1 or more of these subcategories:

  • Recording engineer
  • Sound mixer
  • Sound editor and sound designer

All recording engineers need to understand how the sound will be used. Usually, once recording is complete, the recording engineer will hand off the file to sound mixers and sound editors for further processing. However, the roles are not fixed.

Recording engineers record a variety of subjects, such as musicians, vocalists, narrators, actors, ambient sounds, and sound effects. They use equipment that captures the signals from microphone or line inputs to record audio. Then they process the audio signals.

Recording engineers monitor sound through speaker systems and headphones. They also provide their subjects with monitoring equipment when needed.

Sometimes, recording engineers mix sounds during the recording. For example, they may do this when musicians record in a studio. Other times, they will hand off the file to a sound mixer.

Sound mixers combine and blend different sound sources into 1 cohesive mix. They use a mixing console, usually in combination with other recording and audio processing tools. They:

  • Offer ideas and suggestions to achieve the best possible mix
  • Understand the technical requirements of all the equipment being used
  • Understand how the audio will sound when it is played in a real-world setting such as on home sound systems, in vehicles, on portable devices, or in movie theatres

Sound mixers may create master files for later broadcast or retail sale. Sometimes they mix, combine, or edit recordings themselves. But usually, this is done by a mixing or mastering engineer. They create master files for:

  • Commercials
  • Film, TV, and game soundtracks
  • CDs, DVDs, or BluRays
  • Multimedia presentations
  • Podcasts, audiobooks, and social media content

Sound editors and sound designers change sound sources and create new sounds. They prepare the sound for use in projects. They:

  • Clean up and improve noise problems on a recording
  • Edit out unwanted material
  • Place the sound in the proper order for a project
  • Create new or unusual sounds
  • Work with sound effects

For the remainder of this profile, “recording engineer” will refer to the broader occupation rather than the subcategory.

Recording engineers mix and balance sound sources for recordings. For information about those who control the sound components of live events, see the Sound Engineer occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Recording engineers work in recording studios, film post-production houses, radio stations, multimedia companies, and on film sets.

They may need to work long hours in a studio or on a film set to meet project deadlines. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common.

Working environments range from large, air-conditioned studios to basements in private homes.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Audio and Video Recording Technicians

2006 NOC: 5225

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
OBJECTIVE

Interest in controlling audio consoles or computers, tape machines, microphones and sound processing equipment to mix, combine and edit music and sound at concerts and live events and to operate electronic equipment to generate program titles, credits, subtitles, graphic backgrounds or animation for television programs

METHODICAL

Interest in compiling information to play back edited sound tracks in synchronization with motion picture films

INNOVATIVE

Interest in mixing, combining and editing music and sound at concerts and live events, and synchronizing edited dialogue, music and sound effect tracks from different sources

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Recording engineers need:

  • Patience, understanding, and flexibility
  • Self-motivation
  • Versatility
  • Punctuality
  • Excellent hearing with an ear for musical pitch and tone
  • The stamina to work long hours
  • Logical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • The ability to adapt quickly to new and different technologies
  • The ability to deal with a variety of personal musical styles

They should enjoy:

  • Troubleshooting problems
  • Using electronic equipment to perform tasks requiring precision

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Audio and video recording technicians

2016 NOC: 5225

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 45 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 18, 2021 and May 25, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Operate audio-visual or electronic equipment
Tasks: Prepare and operate videotape recording and playback equipment and edit video tape after production
Tasks: Set up, prepare, operate and adjust audio, recording, editing and reproducing equipment to record, edit and reproduce sound input
Tasks: Operate mixing, dubbing, editing machinery and equipment
Tasks: Operate audio consoles or computers, tape machines, microphones and sound processing equipment at concerts and live events
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Attention to detail
Video production
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Client focus
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education Varies

There are no formal education requirements for recording engineers. However, a related post-secondary certificate or diploma is an asset when seeking employment.

Most recording engineers learn on the job and take related courses. They have acquired a working knowledge of computer-based recording technologies such as digital audio workstations (DAWs).

Training to become a recording engineer is very specialized. Only a few private vocational schools in Canada offer it. Occasionally, these organizations offer evening courses or short seminars in sound recording:

  • Colleges
  • Technical institutes
  • Recording studios
  • Electronic music stores

Knowledge of different types of music, music theory, and harmony is an asset for those who work on music projects. For information about post-secondary music programs in Alberta, see the Instrumental Musician occupational profile.

For information about post-secondary programs related to broadcasting, see the Television Audio / Video Operator profile.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Alberta University of the Arts
Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
University of Lethbridge

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Most recording engineers are freelancers. They may work for:

  • Video, film, and game production companies
  • Multimedia companies
  • Television and radio stations
  • Theatre and dance companies
  • Recording studios
  • Podcast and audiobook producers
  • Online content creators

Some freelance recording engineers set up their own basement or project recording studios.

Freelancers need to:

  • Network to gain contacts
  • Market their skills and services
  • Know business-related skills such as invoicing, bookkeeping, accounting, money management, and time management

It can be difficult to break into recording engineering. Experience is an asset. Examples of work experience include:

  • Working on a practicum placement through a school training program
  • Volunteering at a cable television or radio station
  • Working in radio commercial production
  • Volunteering with various productions, artists, or religious organizations
  • Working on local film projects
  • Making live recordings of concerts

Continuing to develop skills on your own time with your own equipment can be useful. Those new to the industry usually start out as a “gopher” or assistant engineer. Then they work their way up. You must be willing to work for little money to gain practical experience and establish a reputation for good work.

Advancement generally takes the form of working on more complex projects. Experienced studio recording engineers may advance to producer or other related positions. Others open their own recording studios.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5225: Audio and video recording technicians occupational group, 79.1% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5225: Audio and video recording technicians occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 17 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2024

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Audio and video recording technicians

2016 NOC: 5225
Average Wage
$34.78
Per Hour
Average Salary
$53,209.00
Per Year
Average Hours
30.8
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 5225 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $75.00 $31.15 $27.39
Overall $15.00 $75.00 $34.78 $32.96
Top $15.00 $75.00 $37.37 $34.62

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
22%
22%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
N/A
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
0%
0%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Communications
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2024

Alberta Music Industry Association website: www.albertamusic.org

Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) website: cimamusic.ca

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) website: www.smpte.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2024. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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