People who have attended audio engineering schools will tell you how elusive, yet serious, the field actually is. Too many enter the field because they like tinkering with sound equipment, but real audio engineering is about so much more. It is a true profession, and not a simple hobby to enjoy. While it is certainly good if you already know how to create rhythms on PCs or taking speakers and amplifiers apart, that is not enough to become an audio engineer.
It is certainly true that the field has become a lot more open to amateurs. This is due to the fact that the technology needed in the area is now readily available and affordable as well. Furthermore, computer technology is becoming increasingly complex, yet easy to understand. As a result, all you now need is a laptop to run an amplifier, synthesizer, and midi controller – at the same time! Yet, even those who are very adept at this are still not professional audio engineers. It is those who work in sound, for commercial companies, who have the real skills and those are picked up in school.
How to Become a Professional
It should be obvious that tinkering with equipment and actually creating a commercial piece of sound are two very different things. By going to an audio engineering school, you will not just learn how to use equipment. You will learn how to communicate, what electronic standards are, what sound physics are, how sound waves work, and more. This is incredibly challenging, but also incredibly interesting. There are schools all over the country that offer these types of degrees, and a simple look through their curriculum will show you just how many different things you will learn about.
In fact, curricula can sometimes be quite overwhelming. This is precisely why you also need to think about exactly what you are personally interested in. For instance, you could be interested in audio production, in MIDI, in the radio industry, in broadcasting, and so on. Once you know what it is that you want to learn about, you will also be better equipped to find a program that aligns itself with your personal interests.
It is quite common for schools to focus on a specific element of the entertainment industry as well. This is understandable, as the audio needs of a live music performance, for instance, are very different to the audio needs of an animated movie. It is up to you to decide whether you want to complete a degree with an emphasis on a certain element of the industry, or whether you want to stay more general in your studies. The general option’s main benefit is that it gives you a lot of transferable skills. The targeted option’s main benefit is that it will make you far more employable, but only in the actual field that you focused on. Hence, choosing that option must mean that you are very sure about what it is that you want to do.