Recording engineers handle all aspects of sound production in live and studio settings. They work in film, video, music, radio and television. While some engineers receive on-the-job training, many pursue associate to doctoral degrees in college. Course content focuses on the science and principles of recording, and the practical work of recording and mixing. Students can also expect to learn about the concentrations available in the field and how the business of recording works.
Before students get to handle the equipment used for audio engineering, they will study the principles behind sound and music. Students may be required to take courses in math and science, such as calculus and physics. They may be expected to study music history and take courses in writing and composition relevant to the major. Courses in acoustics, arrangement, audio technology, composition, critical listening and musical theory and application are also common.
Learning sound engineering requires solid instruction and hours of trial and error in production rooms. Students may take courses in production analysis, editing, technical production, recording, mixing, multi-tracking and sequencing. They can also expect to learn the most commonly used software in the industry, such as Pro Tools and MIDI systems. Audio engineering programs may offer students the opportunity to work with classic and state of the art equipment such as Neve mixing consoles and compressors, Studer tape machines or Telefunken microphones. They are trained in both digital and analog formats and spend much time in recording studios and live rooms, learning about recording, mixing, mastering and producing.
Whether students are planning to mix and master the next hit record or work to produce background music for the latest video game, they need to know about the industry options available to them. Programs usually include instruction in the music business and career planning. Students may be introduced to the basic principles of business and public speaking or be asked to examine case studies of well-known studios and businesses that rely on recording engineers.
The most important classes a recording engineering student takes may occur outside of the classroom. Many recording engineering programs require students to perform an internship before graduation. At Clemson University, students in the audio technology program perform an internship in their junior year. The audio engineering program at Musicians Institute helps place student interns in recording studios during their time at school and most programs have career centers that point students toward work opportunities in the field upon graduation.