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Career and Education Opportunities for Sound Engineers in Chicago, Illinois

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for sound engineers in the Chicago, Illinois area. There are currently 520 jobs for sound engineers in Illinois and this is projected to grow by 8% to about 560 jobs by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for sound engineers are expected to grow by about 6.3%. Sound engineers generally operate machines and equipment to record, synchronize, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions.

Sound engineers earn about $21 per hour or $44,480 annually on average in Illinois and about $22 hourly or $47,490 annually on average nationally. Sound engineers earn more than people working in the category of Media Technical generally in Illinois and more than people in the Media Technical category nationally. Jobs in this field include: tape transferrer, dub room engineer, and winder.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can study to be a sound engineer, among 180 schools of higher education total in the Chicago area. The most common level of education for sound engineers is a post-secondary certificate. It will take a short time to learn to be a sound engineer if you already have a high school diploma.


Sound Engineer video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, sound engineers operate machines and equipment to record, synchronize, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions.

Sound engineers report equipment problems and insure that required repairs are made. They also assemble and adjust recording equipment for recording sessions and live performances; tear down equipment after event completion. Equally important, sound engineers have to record speech and other sounds on recording media, using recording equipment. They are often called upon to regulate volume level and sound quality during recording sessions, using control consoles. They are expected to mix and edit voices, music, and taped sound effects for live performances and for prerecorded events, using sound mixing boards. Finally, sound engineers get ready for recording sessions by performing efforts such as selecting and setting up microphones.

Every day, sound engineers are expected to be able to note differences between sounds as they change tone and volume. They need to focus on a single sound in a noisy environment. It is also important that they understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment.

It is important for sound engineers to talk with producers and others to establish and achieve the desired sound for a production, such as a musical recording or a film. They are often called upon to reproduce and duplicate sound recordings from original recording media, using sound editing and duplication equipment. They also synchronize and equalize prerecorded dialogue and sound effects with visual action of motion pictures or television productions, using control consoles. Somewhat less frequently, sound engineers are also expected to keep logs of recordings.

Sound engineers sometimes are asked to separate instruments and other sounds, and combine sounds later during the mixing or postproduction stage. They also have to be able to develop musical instrument digital interface programs for music projects or film postproduction and keep logs of recordings. And finally, they sometimes have to regulate volume level and sound quality during recording sessions, using control consoles.

Like many other jobs, sound engineers must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Audio Visual Technician. Set up or set up and operate audio and video equipment including microphones, sound speakers, video screens, projectors, video monitors, recording equipment, connecting wires and cables, sound and mixing boards, and related electronic equipment for concerts, sports events, meetings and conventions, presentations, and news conferences. May also set up and operate associated spotlights and other custom lighting systems.
  • Camera Operator. Operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, or motion pictures.
  • Film or Videotape Editor. Edit motion picture soundtracks, film, and video.
  • Photographer. Photograph persons, subjects, or other commercial products. May develop negatives and produce finished prints.
  • Technical Director. Coordinate activities of technical departments, such as taping, editing, and maintenance, to produce radio or television programs.


Columbia College Chicago - Chicago, IL

Columbia College Chicago, 600 South Michigan, Chicago, IL 60605-1996. Columbia College Chicago is a large college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 12,464 students. Columbia College Chicago has a one to two year and a bachelor's degree program in Recording Arts Technology/Technician which graduated two and 104 students respectively in 2008.


Certified Technology Specialist-Installation: A Certified Technology Specialist Installation (CTS-I) installs and maintains audiovisual systems by following specifications,.

For more information, see the InfoComm International website.

Audio Systems: This certification program is for engineering technicians engaged in the layout, installation, and maintenance of audio systems for commercial, industrial, and large space applications.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist: This certification is designed for persons who wish to demonstrate a basic familiarity with networking hardware as utilized in business and audio/video applications in broadcast facilities.

For more information, see the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc. website.

Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer : The candidate for Certified Broadcast Radio Engineer must have five (5) years of suitable experience in broadcast engineering or related technology and must achieve a passing grade on the proficiency examination.

For more information, see the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc. website.

Certifed AM Directional Specialist: The SBE Program of Certification designed the AM Directional Specialist Certification to help evaluate an individual's ability to perform the necessary tasks to keep facilities operating properly.

For more information, see the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc. website.


Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.