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Tuning in for a different playlist every day

Why a career as an audio engineer is not as one-tracked as it may first sound — it features an eclectic list of challenges.

Toronto-based audio engineer Daniel Horton

contributed

Toronto-based audio engineer Daniel Horton

Daniel Horton, 40, audio engineer at the Eggplant Collective, Toronto

Why I like my job
At first, I wanted to be a musician or work in the field of recording music. In 2001, I went to Toronto’s Harris Institute, which specializes in music and arts [diplomas]. I quickly learned music was only one component – there’s lots of opportunities in commercial and long-form work for audio engineers so while my initial path was music, I’ve branched out into doing commercial work.

I spend a lot of time doing sound effects or sound design, fixing music supplied by a composer, mixing tracks, recording voices or voiceovers and putting all the pieces together for our clients. I like my job because I get to experience different challenges every day. Something is always new, and I’m not bogged down working on the same project for months on end.

How to start
There is no set standard to breaking into audio or sound engineering. Many jobs will require some form of post-secondary school, such as a trade program or college diploma, where you study the different technologies involved in sound recording and editing, as well as theory of audio production. There are a few specialized colleges, such as the Harris Institute or the Recording Arts Canada, which offer diplomas and certificates specifically in audio-related fields. With the ever-changing nature of digital and audio equipment, on-the-job training is common.

Where you can go
Audio and sound engineers can expect to find positions in most major metropolitan areas where there is a commercial, film or music industry. Toronto and Vancouver, with their heavy concentration of advertising agencies and film productions, are hotbeds for the practice.

Next career step
There are a number of different career paths for audio engineers, including live concerts, voiceover work, sound effect creation, pure sound editing (for films, TV shows and commercials) and, of course, music production.

The basics: Audio engineer
$48,948: Median annual salary for an audio engineer. Those with advanced training and experience can expect to earn upwards of $75,000 per year. 
+8%:
The amount of growth expected in this field over the next 8 years.

Data for this feature was provided by payscale.com, trade-schools.net, onetonline.org and berklee.edu. 

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