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Recording Engineer

Recording engineers use a variety of techniques and electronic equipment to record, mix, process, manipulate and edit sound in production studios.

Also Known As

Audio Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, Music Recording Engineer, 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: Audio and Video Recording Technicians (5225) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Audio and Video Recording Technicians (F125) 
  • 2011 NOC: Audio and video recording technicians (5225) 
  • 2016 NOC: Audio and video recording technicians (5225) 
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

Duties
Updated Apr 12, 2022

Recording engineers work in recording studios, film post-production houses, radio stations, multimedia companies and on film sets. Most sound recordings are made on multitrack digital recording equipment, digital audio work stations or hard disc-based computers/samplers.

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].

Unlike professional engineers who may design or construct audio systems, recording engineers:

  • operate recording consoles or computers, digital recording equipment and software, microphones and sound processing equipment to change the signals from microphone or line inputs to usable audio signals that can be sent to multitrack recording machines or digital audio processors
  • mix, combine or edit recordings, or work with a mixing or mastering engineer, to create master files for commercials, film soundtracks, CDs, computer audio files (wave files) or multimedia presentations for later broadcast or retail sale
  • do audio post-production mixing and editing for film/video work
  • create MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) programs for music projects, commercials or film post-production.
    Recording engineers record separate instruments, vocals and sounds, and combine them later during the mixing or post-production stage. They work closely with producers, directors, arrangers, programmers and performers to achieve the desired sound for musical recordings, commercials and film, television, theatre and radio productions.

In the past, studios often used analogue recording equipment and SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) or MIDI time code for synchronization. Now, most recording engineers use computers that allow them to work in a non-destructive format, work faster and more efficiently, and collaborate with others in locations throughout the world.

For information about engineers who control the sound components of live events, see the Sound Engineer occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Oct 21, 2014
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Recording engineers may be required 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.

Traits & Skills
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Recording engineers need to possess:

  • punctuality, patience, understanding and flexibility
  • the stamina required to work long hours
  • an ability to self-motivate
  • an ability to think logically and pay attention to details excellent hearing with a good ear for musical pitch and tone
  • good communication skills to clarify what sounds are desired, make suggestions and accept criticism
  • an ability to deal with a variety of personal musical styles and to work as part of a team
  • quick thinking and decision-making abilities to solve problems as they arise.

They should enjoy using electronic equipment to perform tasks requiring precision and trouble-shooting problems.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 21, 2014
  • Minimum Education Varies

Although a related post-secondary certificate or diploma is an asset when seeking employment, there are no formal education requirements for recording engineers. Most have acquired a working knowledge of computer-based recording technologies, such as digital mixing and random access editing, and an ability to adapt quickly to many different recording formats and devices by learning on the job and taking related courses.

Knowledge of different types of music and 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.

Training to become a recording engineer is very specialized and only a few private vocational schools in Canada offer it. Occasionally, colleges, technical institutes, recording studios and electronic music stores offer evening courses or short seminars in sound recording. Aspiring recording engineers should discuss their career plans with people and employers in the industry before enrolling in a training program.


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

Pixel Blue College

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 Apr 01, 2017
  • Certification Not Regulated

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 21, 2014

It can be difficult to break into recording engineering. Experience working on a practicum placement through a school training program or as a volunteer at a cable television station is an asset. Beginning in radio commercial production is another option.

It is common in the industry for someone to start out as a "gopher" or assistant engineer, and 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 and building a reputation for good work. Some recording engineers move into related positions, such as producer, or open their own recording studios.

Recording engineers work for:

  • video and film production companies
  • multimedia companies
  • television and radio stations
  • theatre and dance companies
  • recording studios.

Some freelance recording engineers set up their own basement or project recording studios. Experienced studio recording engineers may advance to producer positions.

Recording engineers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5225: Audio and video recording technicians. In Alberta, 75% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 21, 2014

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
$30.26
Per Hour
Average Salary
$60,763.00
Per Year
Average Hours
38
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 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
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $33.00 $23.00 $20.19
Overall $15.00 $43.00 $30.26 $28.85
Top $18.00 $52.00 $35.81 $36.06

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
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

21%
21%)

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 Apr 12, 2022

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, 2017. 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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