- Record and process sound for film, TV or music
- You'll need technical skills and a good ear for sound
- Some work can be outdoors on location, and you may need to travel
Sound technicians manage the technical side of recording and editing the audio for film, tv, music or video productions. You could specialise in production sound (recording sound on set or location), or post-production (putting the final soundtrack together in an editing studio).
On a production sound team, your work might include:
- Setting up equipment to suit the acoustics and the sound designer's instructions
- Selecting and placing fixed microphones
- Operating the boom (a microphone on a pole, used to get close to the sound source)
- Checking sound quality
- Recording sound onto digital devices
- Servicing and repairing equipment
- Playing music or sound effects into a live programme
On a post-production team, you'll be:
- Following a sound designer or sound supervisor's instructions
- Mixing and balancing speech, effects and background music
- Editing speech to fit the action on screen
- Creating extra sound effects and adding them into the soundtrack
If you're freelance, you could negotiate fees based on the type of production and your own track record. The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has information on current pay guidelines.
You'll often work long and irregular hours, including early mornings or late nights, according to the demands of the production. You may also need to be flexible and work at short notice.
For production sound recording, you could work anywhere from studios to outside locations, in all weather conditions. Location work could be anywhere in the UK or overseas. Post-production sound editing takes place in soundproofed studios and editing suites.
There are no set requirements, but you'll need excellent hearing, excellent practical skills, a high level of attention to detail, and the ability to cope with long hours and tight deadlines. A good knowledge of sound technology and equipment will also be helpful.
You could gain experience by working on student or community film or radio projects, setting up ('rigging') sound equipment for amateur theatre or local bands, working for a sound equipment manufacturer or hire company, and assisting in a recording or editing studio. It's also possible to start out as a roadie, loading and unloading sound equipment, and setting it up. You can then try to pick up the skills you need from experienced sound technicians.
A college or university course in a subject like music technology, sound engineering or media production could also develop your knowledge and skills.
You could also get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship that covers sound engineering skills. These include a broadcast production assistant apprenticeship; creative venue technician apprenticeship; and a technical theatre, lighting, sound and stage apprenticeship. You can then apply for jobs in TV and film once completed.
You could also do a course run by a private provider, like the National Film and Television School Sound Diploma.
Large broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 offer work experience placements.
You could progress from working for a small, regional company or station to working for a large, national one. You could also move into studio management.