How to become a sound engineer: Matilda's story

Meet Matilda and find out about life as a sound engineer with the BBC. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Don't be scared to ask questions. It's a great way to learn.

  • As a sound engineer for a BBC radio unit, Matilda works in the studio on sessions or radio programmes for drive-time and breakfast shows. She also goes out on the road, working on Outside Broadcasts (OBs) and festivals

  • At sixth form Matilda did a Broadcasting course, then applied for one of the BBC apprenticeship schemes. She says that technical skills come with time and the skills you really need are:

    • good team building skills
    • good communication skills
    • resilience
    • being able to adapt to changing environments
  • Matilda says that, although it's a male-dominated field, women shouldn't be disheartened and if it's a career that appeals to them they should just go for it!

While Matilda is a sound engineer who works both in studio and outside, on OBs and at music festivals, live sound engineers work solely in the field. They control the sound at events like theatre performances, music concerts and festivals.

What to expect if you want to be a live sound engineer

  • 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 live 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 or 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 and 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)

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

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