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Sound Engineer

Sound engineers use a variety of techniques and electronic equipment to control the sound components of live events such as theatre performances and music concerts.

Also Known As

Audio Visual Technician, Front of House Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Mix 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

  • 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

Sound engineers control and produce the sound that audiences and performers hear in live, amplified performances.

Sound 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, sound engineers control the sound components of live events.

Before the event, sound engineers:

  • Discuss sound requirements with the production director, sound designer, artists, or their representatives
  • Develop a sound plot, which is a script of sound effects, music, and changes in sound level
  • Select music and sound effects, such as birdsong or traffic noises, from a sound library or a recording they have made
  • Develop and program the playback of sound plots using a variety of audio equipment such as digital playback automation software
  • Select and position microphones and loudspeakers or direct others to do so
  • Lay any necessary electrical and audio cables or direct others to do so
  • Conduct system tests before performances to ensure all sound equipment is placed and working properly

During a rehearsal, sound check, or performance, sound engineers continue adjusting sound. To do this, they need input from directors, sound designers, or performers. They:

  • Balance amplification
  • Equalize frequency response
  • Mix sound components
  • Operate the sound desk or mixing console during shows according to the sound plot and cues from the stage manager

In addition, sound engineers maintain sound equipment. They may be responsible for the house sound system or the performers’ monitor system.

In smaller organizations, sound engineers also may help with recording the performance or lighting. For more information, see the Television Camera Operator and Lighting Technician occupational profiles.

Some sound engineers work on touring live shows performed in a series of different venues. For each venue, they may supervise the set up and tear down of the entire sound system. Or they may do the work themselves. Ensuring the audience and performers can hear the sound effects and live music to the best effect can be a challenge. It can be even harder in venues without an acoustically stable environment.

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg

Sound engineers work in theatres and other performance venues. They often work in semi-darkness at a control desk near the back of the venue. They occasionally work at heights.

Those who travel with a show sometimes work outdoors in all weather conditions. Some lifting is required to move and place sound equipment. This equipment can weigh 20 kilograms or more.

Sound engineers commonly work evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may need to work long hours during rehearsal periods. They may spend a lot of time travelling on performance tours.

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

Sound engineers need:

  • Patience, understanding, and flexibility
  • Self-motivation
  • Versatility
  • Excellent hearing with an ear for audio quality, including musical pitch and tone
  • The stamina to work long hours
  • Logical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Quick thinking and decision-making ability
  • The ability to adapt quickly to different technologies

They should enjoy:

  • Trouble-shooting problems
  • Using electronic equipment to perform precision tasks

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 46 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 18, 2021 and Jun 22, 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: Operate mixing, dubbing, editing machinery and 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 audio consoles or computers, tape machines, microphones and sound processing equipment at concerts and live events
Attention to detail
Construction Specialization: Flexibility
Video production
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Organized
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2024
  • Minimum Education Varies

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

Most sound engineers learn on the job and take related courses. They have acquired a working knowledge of sound reinforcement technologies as well as digital audio workstations (DAWs). They need excellent knowledge of audio equipment, especially PA systems, microphones, and mixing consoles.

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 sound engineers are self-employed. They may work on a contract basis for:

  • Theatre and dance companies
  • Live sound re-enforcement companies
  • Clubs
  • Bands
  • Audiovisual companies
  • Cruise lines
  • Online content creators

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

  • Working on a practicum placement through a school training program
  • Volunteering at a performance venue
  • Volunteering with religious organizations, community associations, and recreation facilities
  • Working with bands, music festivals, and dance or theatre organizations

Continuing to develop skills on your own time with your own equipment can be useful as well. Those new to the industry usually start out as a “gopher” or assistant engineer in a theatre or as a “roadie” for a band. 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 productions. Experienced sound engineers may:

  • Become sound designers or technical production managers
  • Move into related occupations in radio, television, and film or game design
  • Move into sound equipment sales, installation, and maintenance

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

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

Cultural Human Resources Council website: www.culturalhrc.ca

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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