Live sound engineers and technicians are responsible for amplifying and balancing the sound coming from a stage at an event. They use microphones, amplifiers, mixers and a variety of sound processing equipment to produce live music or spoken word. You'll find live sound engineers in music venues, theatres, sports facilities and other presentation or entertainment facilities all around the country. The pay a live sound engineer earns can vary widely due to a number of influencing factors.
National Salary Averages for Sound Engineers
Overall, the average pay for sound engineers in the United States was £35,119 a year, according to a May 2010 salary survey by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Engineers in the bottom 10th percentile reported wages of less than £14,657 a year, but those in the top 10th percentile earned more than £60,190 annually. Most live sound engineers fell into the middle 50 per cent, reporting salaries ranging from £20,663 to £42,633 a year.
Employment and Wages Around the Country
Certain areas employed more live sound engineers than others due to the demand in the entertainment industry. Salaries also varied from place to place. New York had the highest concentration of sound engineers in the United States in 2010 and reported an annual mean wage of £39,000. Tennessee also had a high concentration of live sound engineers, but they averaged only £22,399 annually. Washington, D.C., reported only 100 sound engineers working but paid £44,349 a year on average. California had not only the largest number of engineers working but also the highest wages at £44,674 a year on average.
Type of Employer or Industry
Most sound engineers in 2010 worked in the motion picture or video industries and earned £42,334 a year on average. Radio and television broadcasting companies employed many engineers, at an annual mean wage of £35,080. Lower salaries were found working for independent performers, averaging just £25,259 a year. Only one employer paid more on average than the motion picture industry. Religious organisations employed a small number of sound engineers at an average salary of £43,108 a year.
Some live sound engineers learn through apprenticeship or on-the-job experience, while others pursue formal training at a vocational school. Excellent computer and electronics skills will be necessary as sound engineering has become dependent on modern technology and computer processing equipment. In addition to knowledge of sound engineering equipment, live sound engineers should have training or experience in music and music mixing.