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Digital Music Production Employment Information

Oct 20, 2021

Career Definition for Digital Music Producers

Digital music production goes beyond the traditional audio engineering tasks of editing and mixing sound levels. You can use a DAW like Pro Tools to record or create sound effects through samples; manipulate any analog sounds from vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, and other instrumental elements; or use loops or sequencers to create DJ beats.

Required Education Certificate program, associate's degree
Job Skills Singing or instrument proficiency, using recording technology, using DAW platforms
Median Salary (2019)* $54,740 (sound engineering technicians)
Career Outlook (2019-2029)* 6% (sound engineering technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Music recording schools in particular offer certificates in recording, audio, or sound engineering; this curriculum can last from two weeks to two years or four years, or even completed on a self-paced schedule, depending on the institution. Some schools certify in specific DAW platforms. An Associate of Science degree usually takes two years but is often offered in combination with other music disciplines or coursework. Certification classes focus on acoustics, electronics, and engineering; digital music production degree programs often teach how to apply that instruction in entertainment fields or one's own musical pursuits.

Skills Required

Any credible course will give instruction on using DAW platforms such as Apple Logic, Reason, Ableton Live, or Pro Tools, and recording consoles including those by Neve, SSL (Solid State Logic), or Digidesign. Though singing or playing a musical instrument is not required, it's a major plus.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2019, 15,800 people worked as sound engineering technicians. The BLS also projected that this occupation would have average job growth of 6% through 2029. According to the BLS, the median yearly salary earned by sound technicians was $54,740 in May 2019. Engineers who have worked with major artists (and likely have album credits as producers) can make tens of thousands of dollars per CD, plus royalties. Recording schools tend to be in major metropolitan areas, particularly in the recording industry capital of Los Angeles, CA.

Alternate Career Options

Audio and Video Equipment Technician

People who work as audio and video equipment technicians set up microphones, speakers, sound and mixing boards, recording equipment, projectors, screens, monitors, and related equipment like lighting systems for special events like news conferences, sporting events and presentations. The BLS reports that many audio and video equipment technicians work for themselves. A high school diploma is the minimum formal education requirement, although some post-secondary vocational training or associate's degree programs are available, too. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 12% from 2019-2029. The agency also reports that audio and video equipment technician jobs paid median wages of $45,910 in 2019.

Camera Operators

Camera operators may work in a production studio, in the field, or on film sets. They record moving images with special cameras. They typically work with directors and editors on movies, TV shows, music videos, and live news. A bachelor's degree in broadcasting or a related field that includes coursework in camera operation may be required for employment in television, followed by on-the-job training. For camera operators who want to work in film, previous experience as a production assistant and then camera assistant to camera operators is a common path to employment. Jobs for camera operators are expected to increase 14% from 2019-2029, per the BLS; they earned median salaries of $55,160 in 2019.

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