Is Going To School For Audio Engineering Worth It?

| Mixing, Rant

Today I want to address a very common question I get in my inbox on an almost weekly basis: whether or not audio school is worth it. With so many young (and young at heart) readers of The Recording Revolution discovering their passion for music production, the natural progression for some is to want to produce music full time, for a living.

So, like many professions, one assumes a degree is needed not only for the experience and knowledge but for the pedigree, for the resume, etc. Plus let’s be honest: the idea of going to “school” to play around with mixing consoles and expensive microphones is pretty enticing. So if you’ve wrestled with this question, let me give you a few thoughts.


TRR194 Is Going To School For Audio Engineering Worth It?

Via mark sebastian Flickr


You Don’t Need A Degree To Do This For A Living

I’ll get straight to the point. You do not need a degree to make a living recording, mixing, or producing music. You just don’t. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if we polled most top level engineers only to find out a majority of them didn’t go to school for audio. Some may have not gone to college at all.

This is a craft, an artform. Not merely a field of study. The usual pattern of training is an apprenticeship type relationship, where a young engineer wannabe works with and under a master audio craftsman, watches his or her every move and eventually starts out on his own. It’s been like this for a long time. What matters in this business is experience (and connections).

You can go to any studio in the world today, beg your way into being an unpaid intern, and begin the slow and painful process of getting your foot in the door. Sure you’ll pour a lot of coffee and sweep a lot of floors, but one day you might be able to assist on a session and even do some editing in Pro Tools before a mixing session. It’s how most of us had to start, and you don’t need any degree to begin the process.

If You Can Pay For School, Then Go

Now, before you think I’m against school you should know I went to college for audio engineering and I think it was an invaluable experience. But I was blessed to have parents and grandparents who helped me pay for it. No student loans. If you find yourself in a similar situation where you are accepted into an audio program and you can pay your way with cash, then go!

On the flip side though, it’s really hard to justify going into major debt for an audio degree. Because the hard truth is, even with a nice degree from a solid school, you’ll still have to “pay your dues” as a studio intern somewhere. Granted you might be a the most knowledgeable and experienced intern at the studio, but you’ll have years of time and money spent only to do what you could have done for free without a degree.

Start Your Own Studio

Now, whether you go to audio school or not, let’s not assume that you actually have to (or want to) work you way up through the ranks at an established studio. You can start your OWN studio, right now! In fact, that’s exactly what I did. After getting my degree, I went to work (for free) at a major multi-million dollar studio in Virginia. It was an incredible place to work, except that I hated it! Too much stress and too many angry people. It just wasn’t about the music anymore, at least not there.

So I quit, and started out on my own. I ran a simple studio out of my 1950s apartment located right next to a US highway. Yep, it was noisy, and small, but I tracked and mixed dozens of albums there for bands, songwriters, and choral groups of all types. I learned a lot, met some great people, and best of all actually made money!

And, oh yeah, I also had a full time day job!

You see, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, stopping you from starting your career in music recording or mixing right now. You’re a musician right? I’m sure you know a few musician friends who would like a solid recording and mix of their songs. Why not do some free work to build up your portfolio? Put your work on a website. Then start charging a little bit for your work. Get a bit better. Rinse and repeat. In fact, if you want more tips on this subject, listen my podcast here.

School Is Great. Just Not As A Crutch.

At the end of the day, education is great. Going to college is great. I am SO thankful for my school experience and all the professors who poured into me and opened my eyes to some amazing things. I honestly believe that school is a great thing. But one thing it shouldn’t be is a crutch.

Don’t lean on the excuse of “Oh, if only I had a chance to go to audio school, THEN I would be able to make a living in the music industry.” It’s just an excuse, a way out so you don’t have to try something scary like jumping careers. Trust me, I know how scary it is to leave a steady job and try to freelance for a living. I live it every day. But it’s way more fun than living in regret and trying to bury my passion for making music.

I’m sure in your unique situation, with your unique needs, you can start on a path to where you want to be. Whether it’s through school, interning, or freelancing, you just have to start.


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164 Responses to “Is Going To School For Audio Engineering Worth It?”

  1. Rob S.

    I agree with you – everyone’s situation is unique. But as Dan Miller (48 Days to the Work you Love) said, “You can read any three books on many subjects and become an expert.”

    I started recording many years ago simply because I wanted to hear how I sounded (Believe me recording yourself is a great way to gut check your playing!). I fell in love with the process and quickly discovered that you can get really good at it quickly with all of the resources available online today (TRR is one!).

    I honestly believe that most audio schools will begin suffering if they haven’t already. There is just too much information on the craft available through the internet.

  2. Dinosaur David B.

    Going to school for anything music-related — ESPECIALLY these days, is certainly not a good path to a gainful employment or a decent standard of living.

    • Joshua Unitt

      Lets also consider what many forget: the case is not such that the ONLY career opportunity after audio school is the increasingly-rare “full time staff engineer in a topnotch commercial recording studio”. There are many recent alumni at my school (in which I am currently in my final semester of) who are entertainment lawyers, live sound company owners, indie record label owners, equipment/acoustic treatment consultants, ad jingle makers, and yes- even the occasional full time engineer.

  3. Jeremy Wright

    College is definitely not necessary. I took some recording classes while I was in college and managed to get a handle on some of the terminology basic techniques to recording, but that was about it. Stuff like EQ and compression were all still a mystery to me. Over the last couple of years I have found sites on the internet that offers recording techniques and tips that blow away the little I learned in the classes I took. Each time I try one of these tips I learn a little more. Each new recording I make gets a little better than the last. Practice makes Better!

    • Oyin

      Hi, all my life, I have always dreamed of being an audio engineer. i saw your reply on a comment you replied on and i feel you can help me to become a better audio engineer. Please let me learn from you.

      • Robin netto

        Yes… I feel the same I love listening to different sounds playing wit it. I was thnkn sound engineering ll show me a way for Wat I like doing. If not college , u seem to be gvn me confidence more than college broucher . Teach me

      • Jim Reynolds

        I see all of these ads on Craig’s for mixing and mastering but very few for a really good tracking and sounding recording studio.When I was working for a well known computer company in the 60’s-early 80’s .A motto that I heard all of the time was “GARBAGE IN,GARBAGE OUT”.I am so glad that I do not have to master other studios recordings. I remember all of these recording studios bringing in here master tapes for us to do record production for them.Many of these tapes had no calibration tones and many had sub sonic low frequency’s because they were recorded in some warehouse with tons of standing waves and reflections. I guess they thought there was some magic box you could run them thru and make it sound like a million dollar recording LOL.I remember years ago a famous guitar player from the Twin Cities brought in dozens of tapes from various studios he had played on to be transferred.The quality of these recordings were all over the place.Finally I heard a really good sounding recording.I asked him where that was recorded at?.He looked at me with a laugh and said “that was recorded at your studio”. No need to say anymore.

        • Paul

          For those us like myself who is in his early 40s and wants to do post-production mixing/ADR/Foley for a career and already has a BA in Film/Television (circa ’95), what are the next steps?

          I have tinkering with simple editing programs at home for years but want some in-the-studio experience so I can learn and work my way up.

          Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Timothy Huh

    What I found to be the greatest benefit of going to school for audio was this: There are some things that can only be experientially learned through repeated failure and poor tracking and mixing. In that time you can lose a lot of potential repeat clients. Going to school for audio presents some of these topics in a format that lets you understand why you are supposed to do things the established way, and then apply it in a controlled setting. You can get to a place of understanding and proper application faster when you are tracking and mixing volunteer artists, or your own band without the lead engineer breathing down your neck on studio time. It is not irreplaceable, but it does speed up the learning process. In the time it takes to learn this craft to a point of being able to control the process, there’s a lot of pain and suffering. Reducing that time can give you a better outlook on the process, and get you on the ground running faster. Plus, things like gain staging, incremental compression, bus mixing, and effects send busses are not things that make sense to the average newb. You can learn that through apprenticeship, or through school, but it would be a rare thing for you to learn that by trial and error at home, unless you spend a good amount of time watching online tutorials. Also, being able to work and learn in a high-end studio(as a student or a go-fer) with proper acoustical setup and quality outboard gear teaches you to appreciate those things, and sets you up for thinking how to apply the concepts on a smaller budget in your own studio. I mix all in the box now because that’s my budget. But I understand from experience the practical difference between tube and solid state compression, the difference between a U47 versus a U87, and the reasons for setting up plugins in a standard console format. It speeds up my workflow greatly. The mixes that took me fifteen hours when I started training don’t sound nearly as good as what I am now able to do in three or four hours. And that is in the span of two years from the time I first set foot in a professional studio. Also, learning to master your own mixes under direction from a pro does not qualify you as a mastering engineer, but it allows you to think about what the mastering house is going to expect when you send off a mix.

    • Graham

      I think you are spot on Tim with the chance for repeated failure in a safe environment. Definitely helps!

    • Osei O Korkor

      My son is finishing school this coming year, God willing. All he wants to do is to be a music producer and a song writer. He will like to enroll in an audio engineering school next summer. Which school will you recommend? He is being mixing and creating songs on his own. He is very passionate about it. Please kindly advice for I am ready to pay any school fees. Later, I will like to build a studio for him once he becomes a professional in the industry.

  5. Bill

    I would reinforce the school loan as a bad idea: The repayments start right after graduation. An internship will not make the payments.

  6. Daniel Calzado

    I feel like my prayers have been answered and now I have a little more relief. I’m majoring in Music Industry & Technology at Mercy College in NY looking to be an audio engineer and live sound. From reading your article it’s true that even with a degree it’s a metter of getting connections and working your way up by building a steady portfolio and doing unpaid work for a while to show for. Even my music business professor sais the same thing. I’ve been a bit worried these past few months in terms of making a living within music. Not only that, but I also have a special someone in my life who I am soon to be with, but the idea of making a living in the music business has been a bother to me. Been praying that I would be able to support the both of us through my occupation. At least now I see that it is possible to make it happen, with or without a degree. I’m also close graduating (2 more semesters) and I just want to thank you Graham for your input on this matter. Gave me some peace.

  7. Jonathan Felicetta

    I really like this post, Graham. I’m an up coming producer/songwriter myself, and I’ve actually thought of school. After thinking about it, and knowing that I have connections with producers, and artist alike I know now that I can step out on my own, but learn valuable things from guys who are better than myself. Thanks fot the post, gives a lot of insight to this looming question.

  8. Smurf

    I “graduated” AiA a years back, and it gave me a very through grounding in Audio & Electronic basics. And for that I am greatful.

    But lets be realistic here. There are NOT enough “big studios” to intern in as of 2013. Most of the music you hear is either out of a beadroom (loop’s & voice) or done like TRR’s viewers do, a decent home setup with good equipment, in a good room, with a good engineer….can YOU let someone intern in your home??

    The Audio Schools are a huge rip off IMHO, just a place that works on peoples dreams to make &&&& and put them in debt. Can the help? SURE! Will you get into the music biz because you went? No, but you will have a piece of paper to show everyone…

    I know that sounds negative, but when you look at the MILLIONS the schools are raking in compared to their graduates wage, you can quickly see who is cleaning up in the music biz, at least at the educational level…

    • Stu C


      This is exactly how I feel, couldn’t have said it better myself. I graduated twelves months ago, but the studios around me can’t afford to take an intern on, even if they could, you would have to work for free, so I’m working in a very shitty job just to survive and pay the massive debt off for the college. My advice would be (if your in the UK or Europe): There are many private businesses / colleges that offer a diploma in sound engineering, only be tempted if you can really afford it, and don’t except any work afterwards. They are a great kick start for engineering, but they won’t ever land you a job, and they are always very expensive for what they are.

      I think you probably better off teaching yourself, from websites like this one, books, and pure experimentation.

  9. Timothy Huh

    Well, I don’t know about others here who have gone to audio schools, but I’m married with one kid and another on the way. As such, I was working two part time jobs while in school, and working full time now. My ability to get work is a little limited by the fact that I can’t do a lot of contacting with artists, but what I can do right now, I am doing.

    As hard as it is to find an internship for anyone, it is harder to find clients when you have no experience in the field. People want engineers who know what they’re doing, and they find that by looking at your catalogue of past experience. The only way to do that is by working for free, working for cheap, and working as much as you can, until you build a rep and upgrade your studio to the point where you can put out pro level work(not that expensive, as we see here). I just offered to mix an album for zero up front, because it’s more important to get experience and make a name for myself than it is to get paid up front right now. You hate to do it, but sometimes, it’s what has to be done. Now, if it weren’t tracked yet, I would be more hesitant.

    I think that unless you are putting in serious time contacting potential clients and small studios, medium studios, radio and tv stations, etc., you cannot expect to find a job, school or no school. Bottom line. It’s hard enough for regular college grads to find jobs in their field. We should expect no better. It’s work to learn this stuff, work to find a gig, and work to make it pay well for your time.

  10. FrankM

    Thanks for another great post, I definitely agree with you. I might just add however that audio engineering school is just like any other, you get out what you put in. I’m a Junior going for my B.S. in C.S. and I can’t tell you how many times I see people who have only done assignments in class, then graduate and expect a 6 figure salary; it absolutely won’t happen! If you want any hope of getting a great job on graduation, and not becoming a code monkey, you have got to augment your school with real world experience and effort. For me personally I’m doing that via open source software; being able to list my contributions to good size projects will speak volumes more than my degree in all honesty. The same would absolutely apply for audio engineering degree holders, if you can augment your school by interning at a studio, do it! If you’re like me and 31 with a fiance and a child to support, that is not an option, your advice to do your own studio is spot on! The important thing is putting knowledge into practice; having memorized the entire Pro Tools help file, while impressive, will have very limited usage if you’ve never sat down and done the recording, editing, or mixing on real music.

    So I guess my point would be if you have to go into debt because you found a great program, then so be it, however don’t believe that the monetary cost of your school somehow pays your dues, it doesn’t.

  11. Jeff

    If you don’t have the ear for audio engineering, no amount of school will help.

    If you have the ear, then it’s a matter of pathways. If you have the chance and afford a school, you can only learn from it. However, as Graham’s point was, it’s not the only way. The beauty is now with DAW’s, everyone can give it a try and test their skill without bank breaking.

    I am experimenter and am not bad a learning from experience and my ear does a decent job reason to have school. If I find I cannot overcome a hurdle in sonic quality…well….whydoya think I’m here?!

  12. Daniel Booth

    The good thing about school for me was that it taught me good fundamentals, but also gave me the time to experience the many audio fields out there and cement what it was I wanted to do – but also what I didn’t want to do. I also did lots of obsessive study outside of the course and I think that that was just as valuable, but perhaps beyond my reach of understanding without the knowledge from school that I gained. I’ve now started work experience at a major Melbourne studio here in Australia and I think my knowledge has helped me quickly understand what the engineers want. But I am also mindful that I must always be open and accepting of new ways of doing things, and never assume what someone wants will be exactly the same way I would do it or was taught to do it.

  13. David Helms

    I agree with everyone. As a beginner in 1990, I started out recording to a 2 track reel to reel so I could learn the art of mixing, though at first a lot of band rehearsals. Took some classes at a couple studios to gain a better understanding of how the whole process worked then bought a used 3M 8 track reel to reel. Way cool learning how to track projects and still only used cheap mics I got my hands on and a lot of free projects. Next came the almighty internships that were incredibly fun and stressful at the sametime which I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. By this time I’ve already started the new digital realm of ADAT machines and DAT and the intro of Pro Tools which back then was still Sound Designer. Many paid and free projects later, I do commercial voice overs, Multitrack live gigs and still have a small studio that produces some sweet projects that are paid. Did I ever have to work jobs I didn’t like to do alot of this? YEPPERS! Do what you think is right for you and keep your mind open to advise from veteran engineers and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Someday you’ll have the fortune to share your experience with a newby. Good luck! and don’t give up!!

  14. vincent

    Personaly I didn’t go to school. This site is more than enough. Follow one or two good blogs, buy one or two training products then go practise. Experience is best. Doing is better than spending too much time learning. My opinion.

    • John

      I agree friend. Although some schools can offer a certain experience for anyone, to get a more coherent understanding of what to do and how to use it is solely upon you and the time willing to be put in the process.

  15. PZ

    I been producing now for 7 years. Engineering for 2 years. I went to the Father in Heaven and asked him to teach me how to do all this through people like yourself Graham. The Holy Spirit has inspired me to continue to grow and transform this music generations idea of mixing. We are in a recording revolution. 🙂

  16. PZ

    So going to school was never an option if you seek the Kingdom first all things will be added into you and He will use you.

  17. Henri Vlot

    Here in Europe school gets financed by the government, so I don’t need to pay as much for school as you Americans need to do… Score =D

  18. TheSchmalz

    A friend of mine went to a 4-year college with Audio Production as his major.

    3 years in, I was still helping him run ProTools|HD. I, mind you, didn’t own a ProTools setup but I had mixed a record on ProTools LE and limped through it for a couple other small projects with it but I was just a live sound guy.

    What school provides you is “opportunity.”

    An opportunity to work on good-to-great equipment. An opportunity find out how you like to work and how you don’t like to work. An opportunity to use a good-to-great studio with good-to-great sounding rooms for the work you do.

    But you have to put in the work.

    Schools give you access to equipment & people so you can do the work that will get you started toward being a good engineer. But you have to do the work.

    My friend wasn’t doing the work in school. He ended up finishing school without having a super firm grasp on many of the techniques and tools of the trade. He does some live sound here-and-there and is in a pretty good band but he’s still got large gaps in his knowledge base. Those can only be closed by doing the work and experiencing all the things you experience when you track a band, make mistakes, mix a band, make mistakes, pretend you can master a record, make more mistakes, then spend two hours one day with one compressor trying to hear the difference between a 10ms attack time and a 30ms attack time.

    Either way, you have to do the work and put in time tracking and mixing. The questions are: Where are you going to put that time in? When are you going to put that time in? What equipment are you going to use when you put that time in?

    I didn’t go to school. I have a small, quite modest setup at home. I’ve released a few songs of my own (written, performed, tracked, mixed, mastered by myself) since January while working a full-time job and doing other audio work for other people. My friend has been working on their 10-song record since late 2011.

    I’m putting in the work now because I didn’t go to recording school. Mixing at 2am when I work my day job at 8am is pretty difficult sometimes. If I could have, I’d have got to recording school and done the work when I was 20 and didn’t have to have a full-time job. I didn’t. My friend went to recording school and didn’t do the work then either. He’s having to do it all now, too.

    When will you ACTUALLY do the work? If you’re not doing the work now, you’re not going to do it if you go to school.

    • 2infamouz

      @Schmalz: You bring up some very valid points. I think there are a lot of ppl that believe a music production / audio engineering education guarantees them a spot in the industry, when the truth is there are thousands of others competing to make their name in this business and it’s going to take a lot of hard work – both in school and outside of school – to become a successful engineer. Unfortunately you’re also right that if you’re not doing some type of work now, you probably won’t put forth the greatest effort in school either.

      Great article by the way Graham.


    • Miranda Anderson

      I am providing this thread to my 18-year-old son who is thinking about going to school for audio engineering. This is a great comment. Thanks.

  19. T-lloyd

    Some good advice in this forum for sure! I just stumbled along this website. I did my audio engineering diploma back in 2005 and it took me 7 years to get my first full time sound engineering position. It is bloody hard work and you need to be very thick skinned to make it in this industry; so of the 60 people I studied with through the years of the course; only 1 other person managed to get a job in the industry after these 7 years have passed. There is only one reason that i have a job, it is not because I was the best mixer, had the best natural ability or ears… is all because of a hard work ethic and my never say “No” mentality! I definitely dont endorse going to an audio engineering school; but it does help! In all honesty; the amount of money I spent on my course could have been better spent on buying enough gear to start a home studio: and spending all my free time learning the equipment, reading free tutuorials and trial and error. But since I didnt do that and studied instead; my only piece of advice that I have experienced is this: work a job from 9-5 to pay the bills, come home, spend time with your girlfriend/wife/kids/whatever, hang with them until 8pm each night and then from 8pm until midnight; get shit done! This is the only reason why I landed in an extremely good job, because for the last 3 years; while my friends were out drinking and hitting the clubs, I was inside mixing. I would go out with them one night a week, but only have a few drinks and then leave them at about 10 and then come home and mix. If you want it enough you will make sacrifices. Your significant other will handle the nightly neglect if the time you do spend with them is 100% with them and not with your mind away in the clouds or on the television. Also a great way to improve your ears is by doing live sound any chance you get! The best way to learn is by trying to make audio sound good in less than ideal situations: and live sound will give you a lot of these opportunities! But I cannot stress enough, that if you want to make it, then get shit done! While your flatmates are watching re-runs of friends; get shit done! While your peers are out drinking; get shit done! Once you realize that you dont need to sleep as much as you perhaps have been and that the people who make their dreams come true; arent the ones sitting in front of the tv each night; you will be able to achieve more than you ever could have imagined! Just my 2 cents anyway!

    • African guy

      Really good advice. Can feel your passion man. I like the 2 cents about 2 quality hours with the significant other. Very Wise.

  20. Erick T

    I’m 40yrs old living in the US. Is it too late to pursue my dream in making beats? I’ve always been a natural at it. Just never pursued it.

      • Gabe Guevara

        Comments like this keep me watching your videos. I play in a pretty successful country band and record artists when I’m not on the road. I don’t have an audio degree and people have been suggesting I need one to get more business… I love proving people wrong. The bigger question for me is, how do I get the work? I have built the website, I’ve posted the work, I have built a studio, I need more work.

    • James D.

      Hey Erik, from my own experience when you finally decide to start doing what you love you get this new passion and excitement that kind of trumps all else. Age included. If you want it, you can get it.

      Good luck man.

  21. Akreem prod

    Thanks so much for those info. but it seem late for me i’m positive i just finish my school , i get my certificate but like u sead is not enough , u need to step up and try to make ur clients and just start small and build your name .
    The music business is a dog business .

  22. zeero

    Hi i want to thank everyone for their contributions, i just realized what i have been doing is the right thing and right now it is beginning to yield gradually.
    i would stay up at times all night reading tutorials lock my self up in my apartment making beats and mixing,i actually isolated my self from all my friend except those who were interested in the music i don’t hangout unless there is power failure or low voltage and i can do stuff,believe the improvement i got withing 2 months is something no one believes.
    i lost friends and relationships in the process tho, only thing is i’m only 25 so no regrets.
    i was beginning to nurture the idea that i need to go school for sound engineering to build up by CV lol but after reading this post and checking out a couple schools i quit,firstly because i don’t need the school to make a name after all i did not learn from anywhere how to make a beat, secondly well cuz i can’t afford that, coming from a third world country ‘Cameroon’ if i have the amount needed for just a year’s tuition i can start a record company and start getting paid instantly.
    at the time my little studio is made up of a duo core HP desktop computer 21 inch monitor,Alexis IO2 audio recording interface,Shure SM16 Mic,and a pair of behringer Ms40 monitors, i had a 8 channel mixer which i sold cuz i did not have use for it, that’s what i can afford at the time, but the quality of work i get out of these is amazing.
    all u need do is trust your ears and play around with ideas

  23. Miles.

    Hey, so I read the articles and comment and stuff and I’M LOVING this. I am a 17 year highschool senior who has applied for school with the hopes of majoring in MPRT (music production and recording technologies). This may seem vague or too broad to be answered but how do I start my career.

    • TheSchmalz

      Starting right this second, you ABSOLUTELY MUST do anything you can with playing, recording, mixing, mastering, or producing audio. Not just the music you like, though. Produce rock bands, jam bands, folk bands, hip hop, EDM, country, and pop music. Then, spend time working with audio for video production: Sound design, dialog/VO editing, mixing VO with music, location audio recording, etc. There are more real new careers in audio for video production and post-production than there are in music production right now. There are probably people in your area trying to make cool low-budget (or no-budget) films. Audio is hugely important to making a good film. If you know anything about audio, you probably know more than the camera guy and the director do. Help them.

      Don’t wait. Start right this second. The people you’ll have to be better than to get any of those audio jobs started working on it yesterday or last year or before you were born. You’ve got to do as much as possible and learn as much as possible between now and when your college music education starts. If you don’t do it now, you’ll have to work that much harder later to get better.

      …and when you get to school, don’t screw around. A buddy of mine and a nephew of mine both went off to different recording schools and have come back, after partying and not working hard enough, and they can hardly limp their way through a recording session and still aren’t sure about the benefit of setting up an aux or a buss when mixing.

      It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but remember that you’re working hard now doing something you love so you can get the opportunity to do something you love for the rest of your life.

      I wish I’d have gone to school for audio. I didn’t. After graduating college, I stopped using my major and minor all-together and have been working in video and audio production in advertising since then. I finally got my own studio set up at my house and can record, mix, and master (I’m not good at mastering, to be honest, but I can do an OK job if someone isn’t willing to pay a mastering engineer) a decent release in my basement on top of the audio and video producing and editing I do at work. I waited 10 years too long to get the studio started – I missed 10 years. You don’t need to start buying all the equipment you need for a studio, that’s what the school you’re going to is for – they’ll have a great studio, but you need to start working towards producing audio and getting as much experience in audio as you can.

      Good luck, Miles!

  24. Martin

    I’m doing live sound for over 20 years, I being receive so many compliments about my mixing skills, I want to have a degree, associates or some type recognition to encourage my kids to follow their dreams and don’t stop because financial issues or so. I really respect the way that all you think, I just to have the same believes but if this is something that is in your goal list just go for it don’t stop your dreams because the say (you don’t need to…) or don’t go because I say so. FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS….

  25. Adam Hess

    I need help.

    I’m only fifteen. I am a freshman in high school. I want to get on the right path to the career I want to do; audio engineering. A couple years ago I found an interest in recording myself play guitar. About a year ago, I got into using some recording programs that my cousin owned; Ableton, Pro Tools, etc. I absolutely loved it. I have been checking out some colleges and thinking about doing an internship sometime in the future, but I am unsure. I really have no one else to ask.

    Feedback Greatly appreciated.

  26. Ryan

    Reading these comments is making me so scared and indecisive. I’m 16 and I really want to be an Audio Engineer, I need some help though: If people can achieve being an Audio Engineer and work at a studio without a degree, then should I get a degree in something else as a backup, and still go for Audio Engineering without a degree, or should I go 100% towards being an Audio Engineer and get a degree for it as well? I don’t know what to do. Please help…

    • Graham

      No one can make this decision for you. But I understand the struggle. I think there are a lot of great ways to go. If you can pay for school (without debt) then I say “go!” An audio degree is great and you will learn a lot. Just be sure to be building your portfolio along the way from DAY 1.

      Another option would be to get a business degree while working on your audio freelance career. In essence you are becoming a business, a service business, so that is a valuable skill set to have. I wish I had gotten a business degree, honestly.

      The final thing I would say is, to pray. I honestly need God’s discernment to make the big decisions in life, and the whole school/career thing is a big decision. So ask Him for help!

      • Julius

        by the way, great article!! Its extremely insightful to me at the moment considering my situation. thank you!

  27. aaron

    okay so $12,000 a year seems too expensive for me. but what do i do instead? I think you know that making a living off home recording like you have is rare. possible? yes. common? hardly.

    also finding work IN a studio is also next to impossible. with no portfolio and no experience how do you expect anyone to get hired?

    so the last option is internships that dont actually give you real work and dont pay you anything. so whats the best option? it seems hopeless.

    • TheSchmalz

      What you do instead is start working on it right now. Start recording, mixing, mastering, and producing right now.

      Many recording engineers aren’t tied to a studio. They’re freelance, work-for-hire sort of guys that, when they take a job, rent a studio space when they need to and also work from their personal home setups when they can.

      If you can learn on your own – in your own personal home studio – how to make something sound good, you could rent a studio space for two days and make something sound fantastic if the need for a great room and great gear ever comes up.

      I’d tell you to go to college and get a degree in the thing you like most besides music. During college, pass all your classes and use every extra second of time to make music. Graduate college and get a job. That way, you can make money during the day and make music in the evenings and at night. Learn to make the best recordings and the best mixes in your own personal studio. Then, when a paying client is willing to pay for a great-sounding space with ridiculous gear, you can rent a studio for a few days and really bang out some cool tunes in a great-sounding space.

  28. Mackenzie

    Hi! My name is Mackenzie and I am a freshman who goes to Maricopa High School in Maricopa, Arizona and I am taking a Freshman Seminar class that helps us with are future careers and I want to major in Audio Engineering and I looked at this and wondered to if Audio Engineering is right for me. I’ve read some of the comments and they are very helpful. I have an average GPA of 3.6 right now, which is good, and I was wondering if you know any high school courses that would be beneficial towards Audio Engineering because music is my life and I want my career to be my passion and I think this would be a good deal for me.

    • Graham

      The best thing Mackenzie would be to start recording everything you can get your hands on now! Combine real world experience with what you learn in books, videos, and online. You’ll be better prepared for college that way.

  29. CyberFreq...

    Hi Graham,
    I am the ‘sound engineer’ for the small church I go to and have always found audio systems interesting. However I don’t know very much about these systems and my church’s setup is pretty much the same as when it was 20 yrs ago. I would like to start recording my pastor’s sermons straight to a mp3 file on a laptop but I lack the knowledge required. Do you have any specific recommendations for either books or videos that will help me?

    • Graham

      PreSonus has some videos on this subject on YouTube. In essence all you need is a portable studio setup (laptop and audio interface) and then run a LINE OUT from your Pastor’s mic channel into the input of your interface. Hit record and go!

  30. sindhu

    I have completed my Under Graduate in Electronics and Communications. I am interested in doing MS in Audio Engineering. I probably doubt if can ask this question here. But still would like to get some suggestions from you.

  31. Sumayyah Shannon

    Reading these words have really inspired me to try harder and do audio production for my career.
    I love singing.
    I always have but I’ve been so afraid to start singing and working with other people and having to pay money to mix my tracks but I would rather do that on my own. I need to!
    Thank you so much.

    • African guy

      Yeah. Me too. Why not be a good artist with the ability to arrange and mix, master your own music….Greater creative freedom, widens the possibilities, probably more satisfying quality and or output. . . . Just make sure you get a second opinion on your output from a more experienced engineer….

  32. Firstedu

    Yesss,, going to school for audio engineering is really worthwhile as there we get the deep knowledge from expert trainers or teachers and as if we are choosing this as a career option,then it becomes must to join audio engineering school. but every person has diferent choice and needs so they can decide individually.

  33. George

    No you don’t need a certificate to record as an audio engineer not YET, anyway. But I suspect as time goes on like all other skills that require a degree, when the courts begin to get tied up due to armature recording then states will then impose a degree as a requirement. A degree isn’t just a piece of paper, it proves professional ability just like cutting hair. You can’t suddenly decide you want to be a barber and go grab some cutters supplies and equipment and go to work or open your own shop. Any state would fine you and shut you down in a heartbeat. Armatures masquerading as professionals are hurting professionals. Also when a armature burns a paying client they start getting a bad reputation for them selves and shed a bad light professionals that had nothing to do with it causing clients to have a mistrust for them. That not to mention they can be sued. Taking a course in audio engineering doesn’t have to break the bank if you find the right school offering it. And at minimum there’s plenty of awesome books out there on the subject. I would suggest not just finding a school that offers software but covers all the subjects in recording including analog recording. courses.

  34. Jason

    i’m coming to the end of my first year studying electrical engineering and not really enjoying it and am struggling to pass. I am considering taking an audio engineering course but i’m not sure if i will be able to get a job as i love anything to do with music.
    is it worth dropping electrical engineering to do audio engineering?

  35. Therese

    Hi, I’m a senior in high school and am thinking of pursuing audio engineering. First of all, I don’t know if I should go to college for this. And second, I’ve heard that audio engineering isn’t really for girls and they’re very many women audio engineers, so is it worth it for me to continue to pursue this career. I really need some advice! Thanks

    • Graham Cochrane

      So many factors here. College (in my opinion) is only worth it if you pay cash (or get scholarships) no debt. No point in an audio degree if it comes with thousands of dollars of debt. If you have to, work your way through school.

      That being said, the lack of women in the industry is actually a good reason TO DO IT if you ask me. I think you would be desirable in a program. In fact, women have better hearing than men!

  36. Sofia Cortez

    As a college student of Audio Engineering I can totally agree that a degree won’t make you an expert. If there is no practice and no real interest, you won’t go anywhere even if you get the highest grades.

  37. James Tanner

    If you do have the money and are wanting to go to school for audio production, what schools would you recommend , and witch did you go to?

  38. Snickelfritz

    Hi, very nice article, and such insightful comments!

    I have a different scenario and need some advice as well.. so far I’ve been reading lots of comments about a music degree not worth it if you will have to take a loan, but in my case, I have a specific goal of doing music production and sound design in LA. I am a resident in a third world country in Asia and I feel that the closest way I can get to this goal is getting into a music school in LA, so that I get a US student visa and live there. I am already admitted and got some scholarship to a school in LA, but I would still have to take a loan. I won’t have to pay it lumpsum and can do part-time while studying, and I do have some savings, but still, I cannot fully afford the school without borrowing money, still at least about $30k total for the whole 1.5years of school.

    What do you guys think? Is this worth it?

    P.S. I’m currently an I.T. manager in an international company in my country, and at night or during free time, I work on music stuff in my mini-studio at home and earning some amount of money (quite small) also for my music stuff online. But I really wanna dream big, I wanna take this to the next level and do music full-time in LA 😀

    • Graham

      I like your thinking. And it might be the right move for you. However, I would say, if you really want to make it happen – do whatever you can to pay for the program as you go, with cash. Or at least have a plan to pay the loans off in the first year or two upon graduating.

      • Jim Reynolds

        I would say 98% or more of studio owners are musicians.Recording technology today is so advanced and complicated that if I was a musician wanting to learn how to record I would have to go to one of these schools to learn all of the software .I think most of the teachers at these schools today use to own and operate a commercial recording studio full time or mostly part time.But now because everyone who has a computer is a recording engineer. Many of these studios had to close there doors.Not because the quality of recording has improved from the old days ,But what was considered to be sub normal is now the norm.
        All of the magic that I remember from the past was in the microphones.There is no way you are going to get that magical sound with a laptop and dozens of plug ins and a SM 58 microphone .

  39. Jim Reynolds

    When I started out 50 years ago the recording biz was much simpler.I was only 19 years old and had some electronics training from high school.I talked to a couple of well known recording engineers in the Mpls.St. Paul area and they all told me the secret to a good recording was the microphones and a low noise tape recorder.I bought a used Crown 14 tube BX822 for $1,400.00 and later on bought 2 Neumann U-87’s and a couple of RCA 77DX ribbon microphones.Started out part time recording bands,choirs,etc.20 years later left my full time job at a computer company and went head first full time (only income )wife did not work so it was all up to me .2015 marks my 50th year in business and I have recorded 1,000’s of albums for such groups as Minnesota’s original surfers The Trashmen, (Surfin Bird Fame 1963) Deke Dickerson,former Grand Old Opry Star June Webb,Whitesidewalls,and hundreds of others.

  40. Jim Reynolds

    Hi again
    In the previous post I forgot to mention that I am totally self taught.Besides I am “Old School”. And I am not a musician. Non of that harsh sounding computers and Pro Tools for me.I am digital ,but its digital tape.After 33 years of analog recording I switched in 1998 to the only digital recording system that had the same fat warm sound of analog tape.I have several Tascam HI8 machines that I use every day. I have not been able to find a engineer yet that can tell the difference between my analog recordings and the digital recordings.
    Here is a link to my website

  41. Ibrahiim Benson

    For those saying that going to school for audio is not worth it, are missing something. Yes you can leant a lot form YouTube and sorting through a lot of articles online. However, just from going to the Los Angeles Recording School I can tell you I understand the concepts behind the art form a lot more. My friends who have not went definitely don’t grasp them like I do. Also trail and error is a lot more effective when you know what you’re working with and against. Also I can look at a lot of YouTube videos I used to see and understand and implement techniques understanding why they are going about it the way they are. Some videos give you bad info too. Some of the same videos Graham did a year ago I see now and it just clicks. Also audio school explored sound in every aspect of the industry not just music but also film, television, and games. Now that I know the “rules” I can break them.

  42. Rod

    I’ve been working internationally for the past 10+ years but in an unrelated (to recording/audio industry) field and have had just about enough of it. It pays very well and the time off is 2nd to none, but my passion for my particular work that I’m doing is just about burned out. For the past 7 or 8 years I have been playing in bands in the locations where I’ve worked and that sparked my interest in recording. From using just a laptop’s internal mic to buying a PreSonus Audiobox and now a Zoom R16 and using Cubase LE.

    I record nearly every practice session at my work location as well as with the band I am in when I’m in the States. I’ve got a ton of unedited audio and some that I’ve edited. Personally, I’m almost never happy with the final result and mostly that’s due to my lack of actual knowledge of what I’m attempting to do. I understand some things, I do make heavy use of You Tube and various other web sites…I’m just not sure that I’m getting “it all”. That’s why I’m now looking at 1) getting out of my current industry and doing something I do have a passion for (music) and staying home full time (married…with children) and 2) taking an online or distance learning program that will, hopefully, teach me what I don’t yet know.

    I do have a degree (BSc-Sports Medicine) but have never worked in the field and instead started working in another, the one I’m in now. I am considering purchasing the Audio Institute of America program, not because I think it will be the end all/be all of audio engineering or get me a job as soon as I “graduate” with one of my favorite bands but because I know I need the information, even if it’s an outdated program as I’ve seen in some reviews about AiA. I did see one commentor above mention AiA so maybe it’s worth investing a small amount of cash in ($299-499 is what the program apparently costs).

    I’m fortunate that I can continue working while I pursue this knowledge and education, and I really have appreciated the comments in this thread. I’ve read every one of them and see a lot of parallels with my own dilema. I hope to be able to pursue this at a full time level in the very near future. Having the confidence and knowledge will help get me there.

    Graham, great article and thanks for the candidness about the education of the subject matter.

    • Matt

      For what it’s worth I have been involved in music both as a musician and a hack home recording enthusiast for around 20 years. When I finally realized that engineering and production were where my true passion lied, like most people here I started looking for formal education. All of it was to expensive for me so I bit the bullett and signed up for AIA. It has been incredibly eye opening for me and imho worth way more than the actual cost. If you take and implement what you learn there and then start soaking in a little more here and there from people like Graham. You will get there much faster than you think. Just my 2 cents

  43. Sean Stan

    this is great was glad reading this article
    i have the same story thou i never went to study sound engineering in any school but am glad i know my job and that is mixing and producing.

    • Jim Reynolds

      I think producers are born to be producers.Look at Snuff Garret one of the very best producers during the 60′-80’s..After taking piano lessons for many years as a young teen the instructors told his mother> Mrs Garret we hate to say this but your son Snuffy does not have any musical talent whatsoever and we do not want to take any more of your money for lessons
      A couple of years later he had over 4 record hits million sellers.The music instructors came back to Mrs. Garret and said we are sorry.for the comment.Your son Snuff does have lots of talent. Good case in point.

  44. Justin

    I think the biggest problem most people will face is not the lack of skill in mixing but finding that first connection that will open new doors and career opportunities. It seems that in the modern era, connections hold a lot more weight and knowing the right people and receiving a good referral will oftentimes get someone with much less skill and experience into the business far more quickly than a multi-instrumentalist with a diploma/certificate in Audio Eng and no work experience in a professional environment.

    Another frustrating issue with these schools aside from the lack of work after receiving a diploma is the excessive cost being paid for a large number of irrelevant coursework and material such as electives in psychology, English, and college algebra, etc which are not only unrelated but also not beneficial to the field itself. These quickly run up the tab and the time it takes to earn the degree while making the school bundles with no help to improving your mixing/mastering/recording skills….

    Sometimes, I wish there were short term non-credit programs at my local college and universities that allow students just to take a specific course in mixing/mastering techniques or how to mix and record in pro-tools. These type of classes would be far more beneficial than a 3-4 year degree that will set you back somewhere between $100K to $130K. I’m pretty certain that I will learn more from reading 10 articles from this site than attending a 4 credit course from Berklee on “music appreciation” for mix engineers…

  45. Francis Farinacci

    Hi Everyone!

    I just turned 57 years old and in good health. I have been playing guitar since 2010 and love creating music. With no experience in recording, I stumbled on Coursera, an online course in anything you want to learn. So I look to see if they have anything on recording and there is a 3-week online course by Erin Barra called, Intro to Ableton Live, also there is a specialize course programs from Berklee College of Music. The cost is much less expensive than going to a school, Like someone said, you need to put the time into if you really want to pursue in the recording business.

  46. Van Bawi

    Great article Gramham,, thanks for this, I was studying music production for couple months but had to leave it for now as i need to get a fulltime job.. But with the plan n hope on my head to start a homestudio ( still working on it) .. n this article has helped me alot,, Im feeling great n energised to not give up on my dreams just bcos i cant continue my Music studies , but put more efforts instead on the way to achieve my Dream.. Thanks again..

  47. Gamer123456

    Hi I wanted too ask what if you want to go into something like sound for gaming and what are the other types of engineering.

  48. Adriano

    I guess the term “audio engineer” is really misused. An audio engineer might have an electric, electronic or acoustic engineering background, and develops digital and analog hardware, such as consoles, pedals, microphones, pick ups, etc. Nowadays would be coherent to call a software engineer (modelling analog hardware or producing his own effects and instruments) an audio engineer, I guess. Rupert Neve is a good example (though he’s self taught).

    Someone who uses these equipment to produce a record is an audio technician and/or producer, depending on the scope of his activities. Lord-Alge, Rick Rubin, all these guys are not engineers, but this doesn’t diminish their works at all.

    I guess there’s a lot of status in the engineer title and everybody likes to hear this word before their name. On the other hand, it’s hard to swallow a guy who calls himself an audio engineer when he’s got no idea what a differential equation is, or how is it applied to solve a RLC circuit.

    At least, this is how the terminology works in other fields. I’m not trying to start a fight over the righteous use of the engineer title: I’m a civil engineer who’s dream is to be a producer, whatever you wanna call it.

    • Graham

      I like to tell people – I’m more musician than engineer. Engineers are technical people. I’m more on the creative side.

  49. JJ Johnson

    I don’t mean to sound discouraging, I love what I do but I knew I was going to produce records in the eighth grade, sitting in front of the trombones in band and thinking about horn arrangements. Most everybody here who aspires to get involved should ask themselves some hard questions. Can I help a singer if I don’t know how to sing???? Maybe. Do you recognize that a recording studio is typically a motel room with a recorder, and if you work there you are the maid? Can you play the piano? If you can’t, and don’t wish to learn you are basically useless in the new reality, the real power of the DAW is the mix of MIDI and audio. So far, keyboards are by far the only real choice when interfacing with MIDI. Are you a mensch, and someone that other people look up to and wish to be with? This is a serious question, if you are a bore and not good at socializing and hosting, you are going to suck as an audio entrepreneur. You spend a lot of time with clients if you wanna get the cash, you might have to feign some enthusiasm for stuff that maybe would strike some people as basic dishonesty to their own tastes. Are you any good at sales? Can you call someone out of the blue and engage them and let them know you want to help them and make them believe it? I always said that the only thing you REALLY need to know about audio was how to convince someone to pay you to do it, and although somewhat facetious there is a big nugget of truth there. I get a kick out of some of my contemporaries who always had trouble because they weren’t flexible enough to wear multiple hats. You might have to engineer, produce, and also write a bridge. And tune someone’s guitar. Show a drummer the value of repetitive kick patterns. And then rebuild a singer’s confidence after they hear the playback. While you wonder how you are going to somehow get something usable from someone who may not be Frank Sinatra. And then wonder where the next project might be coming from, in an age where Garage Band is available for I-Phones and someone with a little moxie can set up a pretty fine little music hang/ opium den for less than the price of a used Epiphone Less Pall. You better love it, or you are going to be as miserable as they come…….

  50. Anthony Pero

    One thing you’re going to learn faster at a recording school than anywhere else is mic selection. Most of us doing it on our own just don’t have access to the type of mic cabinet they will have at a recording school. I’ve never touched a Neumann in my life. The most expensive mic I’ve held in my hand is a C414. Obviously its not how expensive a mic is, but knowing what its good for. You can read all you want, you can watch mic shootouts on YouTube all you want… until you’ve held a mic in your hands, placed it on an instrument, and heard it with your own ears recorded in a real space, you can’t really know the value of a mic.

    So, if for nothing else, spending a semester or a year at a recording school to get hands on experience with different types of mics is incredibly valuable. The only studio within 250 miles of me that has that type of mic closet available is Sweetwater. For much of the country, there IS no studio with that type of mic closet around.

  51. Brian Holmes

    Let’s be honest here and discuss the elephant in the room.
    There is NO work, whatsoever, that pays enough to live on, for a recording engineer or ‘audio engineer’ anymore.
    This profession is dead and gone.
    Most recording engineers work for free. The rare 1 out of 10,000 that get paid more than zero, get less per hour than a job at McDonalds. And it’s not every going to get better.

    Going to school for ‘audio engineering’ or ‘recording engineering’ is NOT WORTH IT. The only people making money in this profession are people who own the “learn recording engineering schools” that pump out thousands of unemployable people who in addition to be out of work, now have tens of thousands of dollars of debt that will likely financially ruin them.

    There is not one job, none, anywhere in the world that pays an ‘audio engineer’ or ‘recording engineer’ anything close to minimum wage.

    Forget it. This is now a hobby.
    It’s no longer a profession.


    • Jim Reynolds

      Well B.H.
      You hit the nail right on the head.There are well over 10 recording schools here in the Twin Cities teaching all of these young students for jobs that have never existed ever.2015 marks my 50th year full time in the professional recording business.Its been my only income for my family for the last 40 years.After January 2015 it was like someone turned off the business.My beautiful Yamaha Grand piano was last tuned February 14th.Since then it has only had 2 hours of use.Seems kind of dumb for me to pay $100.00 a month to have it tuned.There are hundreds of these computer studios starting up every month.What was always considered to be sub standard is now the new standard in the audio business..I would say that 98% or more of all recording studios have been run by musicians as a hobby or a part time business.I guess I am very fortunate that I was able to make a full time living doing what I love without being a musician for all of these 50 years.

    • Graham

      Gonna have to disagree with you on that. I understand what you’re saying (the industry is changing), but it’s simply not true that it’s purely a hobby and now one is making a living doing this.

      • Shane Zeemin

        It was interesting stumbling across this web page and topic with the people replying. Myself, 36yr and always did some voice over work here and there for radio stations and enjoyed it. A few public radio stations asking me to do some work as well being people liked hearing my deep voice. I have been offered a free paid tuition to MATC for audio production associate degree. Hmmm…… mind starts to really go into full gear with told i would start this fall and transfer to a big city i never lived in before, Milwaukee, WI. No recording equipment, no vehicle and can’t drive along with not owning my own home just an apartment, along with no big saving account just SSDI/SSI and scholarship offered to maybe get me back in workforce. A professor that teaches photography, and does recording and engineering out of his home, said don’t do it Shane.

        Would you take the scholarship and transfer to get the associate degree in audio production and maybe get my foot somewhere ? For side class electives I am doing theater and acting being i enjoy doing it on the side for community theaters.

        Pack up bags and move to MATC, Milwaukee with some stress moving or just relax and learn it from wherever your comfortable living ?

        • Graham

          Life is usually more fulfilling when you take adventures. If you can get some free education, and moving is not a big expense for you, it might be worth it. Mostly for the experience and the people you would meet. Not the promise of a job.

  52. Kieran Farrell

    We have to value ourselves and our work as not just a craft, but a viable and important trade. The more importance we dedicate to our craft, the more importance others will see it in us. Going to school and getting a degree is the first step to showing the world your dedication to your craft. Getting up every morning, and going to school even when it’s cold and you are tired because you have been up all night finishing an assignment is exactly what we need to improve our work ethic, and get us ready for a professional environment.

    The more we work for free, the more we devalue ourselves, the less we try improve, the more we devalue ourselves. We are worthy of more, and mixing/producing is a job that requires skill, education and commitment. Sure you don’t need to go to school, that’s true. But how much do you value yourself, and your passions?

    Just my 2c.

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  54. Deirdre -

    It is hard to tell really. But I would not take it. Ever. An art-like major is very subjective and the market is very small. There are a lot of people who are very talented without getting any degree. You might be very good technically, but then, a lot of people are too. Unless you are an architect, a similar art-like major with better market. Although, even a architecture graduate has less then 10 percents chance to be involved in this industry.

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  56. Luke Vitale

    I definitely agree with the fact that the work you put in now will contribute to how much experience you get out of that. I have firmly dedicated myself to pursuing a degree in both Music Technology and Business because I find that both can really work well together. I am 17 and a senior in high school and have mixed, mastered, and produced my own albums and songs on my own free time so that I can be ahead of the game in terms of work and experience when I go to school. I certainly agree Graham that gaining experience and working now on your own in Audio is essential, and being a dedicated musician for 10 years now helps. And most importantly, praying for and following God’s true purpose for your life is the most important aspect, and right now, this path in my career is purposed in His calling for me.

  57. Giorgio Gobbo

    School allows you to make mistakes without destroying your carreer especially in live sound, school gives you the chance to master every single little bit of production making a lot of mistakes that if made in the industry can cost a carreer, plus in school you learn a lot of new cool techniques and clearly shows you that is the engineer that matters and not the gear, in my audio school we have a multimillion studio, SSL DUALITY and plenty of gorgeous outboard gear and optimally treated enviroments and a wide choice of microphones and everything, but if using this kind of gesr recordings and mixes still sound bad clearly demonstrates thay is the skill st the craft that matters and this is a huge lesson to learn so that we start blaming ourselves and improving on our craft

  58. Thomas

    I went briefly to a music school when I was 19 but I had a studio at home thanks to a pretty ok hit we made so I thought to myself, why am I here at school when I have a studio at home?

    Now I’m 35 and making a living of producing music and providing for my family. I learned everything myself or learned it from others in real life or from the internet. I have my music speaking for me and not a degree. Paying the bills with music means I also have to work when I don’t feel like it. But that pressure keeps you from slacking and also it increases your output.

    When I don’t feel like going to the studio I just think of the jobs I had on the side when I was younger and instantly I run to the studio. I then think to myself, working at home, in a studio, making music, being your own boss, that is actually pretty awesome. And I get to see my kid more then 2 hours a day like a lot of dads in the world do 🙂

    If you choose music for a living, then you have to get up and do it, like any baker or butcher or electrician.

    Anyhoooo, thanks for all the tips, always nice to read some highlights before mixing timeeee

  59. Michael

    I would like to offer a sound engineering course at the high school level to encourage at-risk youths to return to school and complete their education. What do you think about the idea? What sort of equipment is required?

  60. Brittany

    My boyfriend went to Berklee College of Music for audio engineering and production. He says it was totally worth going because of all he learned there. He met incredibly talented human beings that pushed him to train himself harder as well. The actual schooling gave him the knowledge he needed to become a great producer (very professional.) I don’thave the money or skill to go to Berklee, but I want to put myself into something that I can actually feel good about. Maybe a book could help? I’m just not quite sure where to start in that regard. Is it even worth pursuing if I have no degree or classes?

  61. filledlife

    wat if u want to do audio/sound engineering (live sound ok/theatre etc fine) but not so much for music like not doing so for a musician or artist in a studio? and how would u practice? also is it ok to mix with any music even already made? I just wanna mix maybe some recording live

  62. Sophia

    its awesome !!!! but i have a silly question that if i am not too good at my voice but i really want to do something in sound engineering then to i can do this or not ? and yeah i am still in school but it is my dream ……..

  63. Carla Blasing

    Our 17 year old son came to us and said he is interested in sound design. He enjoys creating and mixing sounds. His ideal would be to make sound for movie/gaming industry. This site was helpful and we are encouraging him to show us how dedicated he is for the next year in collecting sounds, since he is
    He is also an amazing writer and is worried about making a living with both. We are questioning paying for these schools for sound design which do make you take crazy classes on College Writing when my son is completing a writing class already with the U of M in high school. Schooling seems like a racket anymore. Best advice I’ve seen is praying about his future and where God leads him and online/YouTube courses.

    Anyone have info on sound design that can guide our son? He has Asperger’s Syndrome so he wants us to be involved in decision since he has anxiety. Thanks anyone who can give advice!

    • Graham

      I would see about looking up someone who actually DOES sound design for a living and seeing if he can take them out to lunch, shadow them, intern for them, etc.

  64. Hem lata


    My son is currently doing diploma in audio engineering, need your advice what shud he do after finishing the diploma , should he continue with the same degree or can he take up intern ship job in the same industry, what degree is relevant beside audio engineering , should he want to continue his studies. He is still young now 22years old. i would appreciate if someone give advice to what he should do. Your reply will be much appreciated. B. regards

  65. Marshea Hensley

    I’ve been wrestling with the idea of going to school for audio engineering. But it’s so darn expensive. I’m just starting building a very small personal Mac home studio & learning all the ins &outs of the DAW etc. If I were 20 yrs old, I’d probably go on to school. But I’m 37, and just now about to graduate from college to work in a medical lab. But music is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do. My main goal is writing & recording my own music and I’m also an avid gamer & would love to do audio for video games (which I understand is an extremely hard career to get into, almost all about connections). If I went to school my only option would be to go into major debt this late in life but then I’m stuck with the issue of “how do I live & eat while being an intern grunt?” So I figure with as much information & resources online about this, surely I can learn it on my own. The downside of that though is it’s alot harder to learn when you don’t have someone right there showing you the ropes, answering questions etc. Even just learning my way around a DAW is almost so overwhelming there’s times I just think “i cannot do this alone, it’s too hard”. And where I live in a very rural area, we don’t have studios here where I can beg to come watch what they do. Besides writing/recording my own material, I do have friends in bands, who I’m going to ask if I can use them for recording/mixing practice. But I am so thankful for people like Graham who not only take the time & effort to teach us recording techniques, but he does it for free. So when I get discouraged & frustrated with this process, usually one of Grahams YT videos or blogs where he just talks instead of showing techniques, helps so much to motivate & inspire me to keep going & not give up.

  66. Punit B

    I completely agree to this point. Not everyone’s situation is same that he/she can afford to pay the high school fees for learning audio. I have been working in this field since over an decade now as a Sound Engineer. I myself had struggled a lot to get into this field with no family background in media industry. I am thankful to my parents for all the support they gave me.

  67. Dec

    I am just finish college (which I think is high school in America?) and I plan to go to university (which is college for you American folks) in September, you see, paying college tuition fees work differently over here but I am still worried that I may not be a worthwhile investment of time and money for me. Should I go to college for three years and study or just go freelance and learn what I can?
    I am already recording a lot, have a small portfolio and am currently building a studio for myself. Has anyone got any impartial advise for me as to what sort of pathway to take?
    Thanks guys

  68. Matt Nicholson

    I’ve done ‘music stuff’ most of my life. That’s included live sound, recording, performance, and composition. I did learn, but I was learning on my own time, as a hobby, and never taking myself seriously as a result.

    One of the best reasons to choose to study is the commitment level. You’re paying for it now. If you’re at a good school, you’re getting experience on the best equipment, mentored by industry professionals who aren’t making you make coffee for three months just to sit in the control room with them. It’s a concise and structured method of learning. I’m learning skills and techniques, and gaining experience in professional level studios far more quickly than just trying to freelance on weekends from nothing.

    Yes, you pay for it, no, it doesn’t guarantee any work once you’re done, but it’s a good accelerator to your skillset, a great way of meeting potential collaborators (and even clients), a good way to build a professional portfolio quickly, and most of all it’s motivating because you’re putting money into your craft. It’s more of a commitment than a Reverb Nation account. I appreciate there are going to be guys who’ve been doing this for 20 years who’ll say you don’t need to study because they didn’t, but that’s the same with any profession.

  69. Graeme Woodcock


    I have spent the last four years of my life studying music technology at University and I have found it to be tremendously useful. If not only for the range of expensive equipment, advice from tutors and academics I was exposed to on a weekly basis, my University degree also gave me an environment to collaborate with likeminded people and build relationships with the next generation of music experts.

    As many have already mentioned, a career in music doesn’t end at being a Sound Engineer or Music Teacher. There is a huge number of diverse career paths for a person with a Music degree to strive towards. The University I attended not only offered Grad Fairs for employers to meet students and exchange contacts, but we also had the opportunity to go on placement in our third year of study. My placement experience was probably one of the best and most useful years of my whole education. It also gave me lots of useful contacts and secured me a job for after graduation. A music degree doesn’t restrict a person to just working in the music industry either. If a person has a change of heart during their degree, a degree in music technology has many transferable skills attached to it.

    Studying Music Technology at University was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I know some people don’t have the money to go to University or may have contrasting experiences when it comes to University or studying music. However, this was my experience and I thought it would be worth mentioning incase anyone reading is considering studying music in higher eduction. To those people, you should bloody well go for it.

  70. Tak Ono

    Hey Graham, you’re my favorite mixing educator on Youtube, and naturally I looked to you for what you had to say about audio schools. I’m glad you had a positive experience! It’s such a relief to hear that from someone I respect greatly.

    I am in the fortunate position financially to be able to attend 9 – 12 month program debt free, so I’m gonna do it! If only for the experience and to be rid of that nagging voice in my head saying “what if?”.

  71. Joann Hasbrouck

    I am trying to help guide my nephew into his adulthood. He wants to attend Dark Horse and I am very concerned about any establishment that charges $12,000. for a three month program. I don’t know how to find out about it being accredited or if it is at all. Also, to pay all that money and then what can be expected in regard to finding a good paying job to enable my nephew to be independent and pay his own way in life. This is a very big concern for me, as I don’t want him following a “pipe” dream. He tends to be a little immature and getting into a rut since he graduated from high school over 3 years ago and hasn’t found his way yet in the world. I would appreciate any guidance you can share to help me guide my nephew into this very expensive decision.
    Thank you

    • Tak

      Hi there, just my two cents. I would try to get him to visit the campus if at all possible. I visited several that I was interested in (SAE, RAC, and CRAS). See if they have an open house coming up. If not, call them up and from my experience they are more than happy to arrange an individual tour!

  72. jimmy spice

    The same hardworking students that do the work in school could do the same thing using Youtube, trial and error, sites like this one, etc. Schools are typically a rip-off, just like casinos. One in every 100 students becomes a major success and they (the schools) market that (outlier). Just like churches that take the one time you get lucky and claim that since you gave the church your money last week, God blessed you. People are too foolish and therefore giveup their own critical thinking and money to the scum bags. The game is played in every industry, and every day new suckers are born and brainwashed.

  73. soundkanvas

    There is no doubt that you can learn a lot from Music Websites these days specially The Recording Revolution thumbs up on this site 🙂
    As far as school goes I recently decided to take some Audio classes at my local college
    The guys that teach there own very nice legit recording studios in the SF bay Area. As a matter of fact they recorded the voice of Siri at one of them. I love Music and Audio Production so that’s why I had and interest in going back to school to perhaps work part time at a recording studio that’s the plan at least. Maybe make some connections. Now these guys look for potential hires during these classes. So it’s like an Internship.
    I went to school in my younger years and I now work in the medical field. I remember doing some internships at various hospitals back in the day. I always knew to leave a good impression because I knew one day I would end up working at one of these places.
    Here’s what I noticed going back to school in the modern era . A lot of the students in this class are flaky some come in late others don’t participate others leave early. They seem to have this mentality of self entitlement . They don’t even have a pen or paper to write on. I find this disturbing . It’s like career suicide what are they thinking ? So here is the point I’m trying to make. If you want to work at a studio one day work hard stand out to your teachers. Become the guy they want to hire next. Show initiative, no one owes you anything. You need to earn your keep. Be the best always. Go above and beyond. Listen to the strangest secret by Earl Nightingale on you tube.

  74. Kim

    While I appreciate your sentiments towards becoming a sound engineer without having attended a formal school, I must say that if you get into the right school, you can become much more successful in the music industry than by working your way up from an intern position. With an education from a recording school that offers traditional lessons, the foundations of the business side of the industry, great networking opportunities, and hands-on training with state of the art equipment, you will be well prepared when you enter the field you wish to succeed in.

  75. David

    Ok, so I know that if you want to be a music producer or work in a recording studio there are other cheaper ways to accomplish that, but what if I want to work as a sound designer/editor/mixer for film, TV and/or video games? I already know the theory but I don’t have any formal training (like a diploma or such) and need to improve my skills by practicing on a profesional environment, plus I am from Mexico and recently arriving to Canada with no contacts at all on the audio industry, I have worked here and there but doing minor sound design jobs but I don’t have a portfolio to show because I wasn’t allowed to use any of the material I worked on, so, how do you suggest to start my career on sound design? Is there such a thing as a “sound designer” career in Canada? or how do you suggest I can “put my foot on the door” sort of speak?, do you recommend getting a student loan and getting into OIART program or some school like that? I’m 32 YO BTW, so, cannot afford to waste time. Cheers!



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