Steady employment in the audio industry

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Wednesday March 9, 2011
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I received a message from someone working in motor sport who said his team was in crisis and he was considering opportunities in the audio industry.

Well, many people in audio would just love the chance to move over into motor sport, but I suspect it's not all that easy. It's not easy to get steady employment in the audio industry, that's for sure. So when you are considering your career path, it's important to know what the options are in this respect.

Firstly, do you want a steady job? Some people don't. Generally these are people who are outstandingly good at what they do and they are in demand. So they can hop from job to job with ease. Anyone not outstandingly good however would sit in frustration by the telephone.

Early on in life, it is hard to find the motivation to think about the future. But it will come. In all probability you will find yourself married, with children, a house or apartment to finance and a lifestyle to support. Right now it doesn't seem to matter. But it will.

Live sound for example is an irregular industry. You could go out with a band on tour as an assistant sound engineer, or even the front of house mix engineer. But when the tour finishes, so does your pay. You could work in the theater on a musical. But when the musical closes, that's it for you. Of course, if you are good then you will get other work. But it's not the most comfortable of lifestyles. Similar irregularities apply to music recording.

If you want a regular career however, broadcasting is the place to look. You could work in the studio, on location, or in post production. You start as a trainee, work your way up to full engineer - by which time you are earning a proper income, quite likely more than your old school classmates. After that you can continue to the position known as 'Sound Supervisor' in some locales. Now you have a team of engineers working for you. And you get paid correspondingly. Every broadcast organization has a head of sound, and that is as high as it gets in sound engineering. But if management turns out to be something you excel in, then literally the sky is the limit for employment opportunities.

So, if you can spare a moment to think of the future, just bear in mind whether you want to fight for an income for the whole of your career, or settle into a regular well-paid career. Only you know the answer, but at least you now know more about the options.

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