SOUND MAN (OR WOMAN)Alternate Career Titles:
Resident Sound Technician, Audio Technician, Sound Engineer
Career Overview: Provides sound for the venue, works the sound board, keeps sound equipment working and ready.
Career Salary Range: $25,000 to $60,000+
Become a Sound Man (or Woman)
The Resident Sound Technician is responsible for the basic sound engineering of a concert. He or she may work in a club, theater, concert hall, arena, school, or any similar performance venue location. The Technician might work full-time or a part-time, depending on the situation. He or she oversees the set-up of the sound equipment, to make sure everything is in place to produce the best possible sound. To do this, the Resident Sound Technician, should be aware of any acoustical problems in the room for which they are working on. Then, the Technician must solve the problem as their prime responsibility.
The Resident Sound Technician must attend all sound checks scheduled, during which, he or she will talk to the act’s Road Manager or other act members to determine exactly what type of sound they are looking for. The Technician will also go over any special effects the act requires during the show. It is up to the Resident Sound Technician to ask questions in order to figure out how the act wants its music balanced for the show. He or she might also advise the act on the volume requirement of the hall.
The sound board is handled by the Resident Sound Technician, which is usually set up somewhere in the middle of the front of the stage. After the concert, the Resident Sound Technician will check sound equipment for any problems, and if repairs are required, the Technician will either make them or arrange for someone else to make the repair immediately.
In some cases, the performing act will travel with their own Sound Technician – the Resident Sound Technician will act as an advisor and overseer in such a situation. Whatever the situation, the Resident Sound Technician will usually start work in the afternoon and then work late evening hours.
Salaries vary, depending on whether or not the Sound Technician is working full or part-time. If part-time, the Sound Technician will be paid by the hour or by the show. Rates can vary from minimum wage to approximately $100 per hour. Those who work full time might earn $25,000 to $60,000 or more per year, depending on various factors including the type of venue and its size. Other factors impacting earnings include the experience and responsibilities of the individual. Resident Sound Technicians working in unionized facilities have minimum earnings set by the union.
Qualified individuals will face fair prospects when looking for positions within clubs, halls, arenas, theatres, or schools. Relocation might be a requirement if one wishes to take advantage of a great employment opportunity.
Some Technicians climb the career ladder by moving on to more prestigious facilities, while others are promoted to the Director of the theater or hall’s audio department. Some Resident Sound Technicians may even be picked up by major touring artists seeking qualified workers.
Education and Training
Resident Sound Technicians are not required to have a formal education, but some venues might require applicants to have some training, in electronics and sound recording. While there are a variety of technical, vocational and music colleges that offer courses in electronics and audio, most pick up the basics of sound engineering by watching and listening to others.
Experience, Skills, and Personality
The Resident Sound Technician may have to advise or consult with the sound person who is traveling with an act, so it is important for them to have good communication skills. He or she must also be responsible, showing up to sound checks on time to oversee. He or she must have a good knowledge of electronics, the sound board, and other sound equipment in order to be successful.
Unions and Associations
Resident Sound Technicians may belong to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees IATSE, which is a bargaining union for individuals working in theater situations.
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Check help wanted sections of newspapers for any openings.
- Talk to Managers of the clubs and theaters in your area that employ Resident Sound Technicians. Tell them about your qualifications, leave a resume, and follow up with a thank you letter.
- Try to start as an apprentice to a Resident Sound Technician to gain experience.
- Check online website of concert halls, arenas, and theaters for openings.