How to become a sound engineer: Raphael's story

Meet Raphael and learn more about his life as a sound engineer for Stormzy, Hamzaa and Tinie Tempah. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

To get in the industry, it's who you know, but to maintain the industry, it's what you know.

  • Raphael works as a sound engineer for artists such as Stormzy, Hamzaa and Tinie Tempah. He was inspired to follow a career in music through his church background. At school he also ran the multimedia as no one knew how to use the equipment, then he went to college and worked at a venue in Birmingham and for an artist whilst at university
  • The week he graduated from university, Raphael received a call from Tinie Tempah's production team to work for him in music production
  • Raphael advises to not be swayed by the glamour as being a sound engineer is not glamorous - it's all about making sure that the artist on stage is comfortable.

What to expect if you want to become a sound engineer

Live sound engineers control the sound at events like theatre performances, music concerts and festivals.

  • Live sound engineer salary: Variable ranging from £25,000 to £40,000 per year
  • Live sound engineer working hours: 39 to 41 hours per week. You could work evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

What qualifications do you need to be a sound engineer?

  • Typical entry requirements: You can get into this job through a university course, a college course, an apprenticeship or specialist courses run by private training providers. You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma, or degree in a related subject like sound and live event production, live sound and lighting technology, music technology, technical theatre art. You'll usually need one or two A-levels (or equivalent) for a foundation degree or higher national diploma or two to three A-levels (or equivalent) for a degree. Some sound engineers start by taking a college course to develop their skills before looking for work. Qualifications include Level 2 Diploma in Sound and Music Technology, Level 3 Certificate in Technical Theatre: Sound, Light and Stage. You'll usually need two or more GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a Level 2 course or four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a Level 3 course. You may be able to get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship in technical theatre: sound, light and stage. You'll usually need five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and Maths, for an advanced apprenticeship. You can get practical experience of using sound equipment to help your career prospects. This may be part of a course or you can try helping backstage in a theatre, being a roadie for a band, rigging sound in amateur or student theatre or for local bands, or working for a sound equipment manufacturer or hire company.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

Find out more on the Prospects website about the role of a sound engineer.

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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