Hit Makers: Careers in Audio Engineering

What comes to mind when you say the name "Seattle"? Cloudy skies and Starbucks? Or, do you think of legendary artists such as Alice in Chains, Candlebox, Everclear, Foo Fighters, Heart, Indigo Girls, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Soundgarden, Soylent Green, Pearl Jam, and Queensr├┐che?

It would also be impossible to ignore that all of these incredible artists, at some point in time, have had to employ the services of an audio engineer. Simply put, audio engineering is a part of audio science dealing with the recording and reproduction of sound through mechanical and electronic means. Professionally, this person is most often designated as a sound engineer or recording engineer. This field draws on many disciplines, including electrical engineering, acoustics, psycho acoustics, and most of all, music. As technology whips forward, an audio engineer must be proficient with different types of recording media, such as analog tape, digital multi track recorders and workstations, and computer knowledge.

Audio Engineering Degree Programs

Obtaining an audio engineering degree is the best first step to getting a job, or starting a career in audio engineering. Several community colleges, technical schools, junior colleges, and many universities in Seattle offer degree programs in audio sciences leading to an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree.

Areas of study may include:

  • Music Theory
  • Digital Audio
  • Audio Recording Sessions
  • Sound for Film & Video
  • Concert Sound
  • Audio Technology
  • Fundamentals of Editing

While usually associated with music production, an audio engineer also deals with sound for a wide range of applications, including post-production for video and film, live sound reinforcement, advertising, multimedia, and broadcasting. When referring to video games, an audio engineer may also be a computer programmer.


In commercial production of a recording, there are four distinct steps. Recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. Typically, each is performed by a sound engineer who specializes only in that part of production.

Studio Engineer

Either a sound engineer working in a studio together with a producer, or a producing sound engineer working in a studio.

Recording Engineer

Recording engineers manipulate audio consoles to mix sound and dubbing machines to record dialog, music and sound effect tracks.

Mixing Engineer

A mixing engineer creates mixes of multi-track recordings. It is not uncommon for a commercial record to be recorded at one studio and later mixed by different engineers in other studios.

Mastering Engineer

A mastering engineer is trained and skilled in the art of taking audio that has been previously mixed (in either the analog or digital domain as mono, stereo, or multi channel formats) and preparing it for use in distribution, whether by physical media such as a CD, vinyl record, or as some method of streaming audio.

Other Related Career Fields:

  • Game Audio Designer
  • Live Sound Engineer
  • Foldback or Monitor Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Audio Post Engineer

Top Seattle Audio Engineering Schools and Degree Programs

Art Institute of Seattle

At The Art Institute of Seattle, you can explore the path to becoming a creative professional with programs that provide an outlet for your ideas. You can learn to refine your talent and gain an education that's rooted in the real world.

The International Academy of Design & Technology Seattle

Academy students can hone their skills in an engaging, interactive environment where the focus is on learning by "doing." They study alongside faculty who are industry professionals who've been there and know what it takes.


Audio Engineering Society - The Audio Engineering Society is the only professional society devoted exclusively to audio technology. Founded in the United States in 1948, the AES has grown to become an international organization that unites audio engineers, creative artists, scientists and students worldwide by promoting advances in audio and disseminating new knowledge and research.

Related Articles