Ask Weiss: Should I Go to School to Become an Audio Engineer?

Transcript:

Hey, folks. Matthew Weiss here — weiss-sound.com, theproaudiofiles.com, and mixthru.co.

Welcome to the Ask Weiss series, and today’s question comes to me via a number of channels, because it’s a question I’ve got a lot, and it goes something to the extent of, “Should I go to school to become an audio engineer?”

So, this is not an easy question to answer, but I’m going to do my best to answer it in five minutes.

Everyone in life has their own path, and no one can really make yours for you. My path did not involve me going to school specifically for audio engineering. It was not something that I was actively pursuing until I got out of school.

That being said, there are a lot of really successful mix engineers who have gone to school specifically for audio engineering. Leslie Brathwaite and Phil Tan come to mind pretty immediately.

That said, there’s also a lot of engineers who did not go to school for engineering. Many went to school for music, and many others simply never went to school. So there’s a wide gamut of answers to this.

I would say, more important than what you choose to do is how you choose to do it. If you’re going to go to school, make sure you understand what you’re about to take on. You’re about to put in two or more years of your life, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in debt to pursue a career, so you need to get every living thing out of it possible. Everything. You should be the first person to class, the last person to leave, you should know everyone in your class, you should know all of the professors, and when it comes time for lunch, you should be sitting down at the teacher’s table and picking their brains.

The connections that you make, the things that you learn, the reel that you build while you’re in school is absolutely paramount if you go to school and you do not take advantage of every single moment of it, that is money lost.

If you don’t go to school, understand that you are going to need to get those connections and that education in some other way, shape, or form. That might involve just going to studios and just being there as much as possible. A lot of people got their start simply by being there all of the time.

That means footing the bill to bring bands in. That means paying engineers for their time. That means showing up at the studio and just being there in every way, shape, or form that you can.

And you know, maybe it’s a hybrid of these things, maybe you’re in school a little bit, and then you find yourself out of school or something like that. I mean, there’s a million different ways. In terms of schools, I’ve had interns who have gone to Full Sail and SAE, and some of them have been good, and some of them have not. I was personally really, really impressed with the students at SUNY Fredonia. If you’re thinking of going to school, I would definitely look into that school, because their recording arts program is absolutely phenomenal.

I know that the LA Institute of Recording is a highly connected school, and the Blackbird Academy is a highly connected school. So there’s a lot of options out there. Really vet them, and the last thing I’m going to say on this is that – don’t feel like you have to rush immediately.

If you’re coming out of high school in particular, you can spend a year or two working just a regular old job. Take that time and really do some soul searching and investigate what you really want to do, because this is a difficult career, and having a few years of tough, poor paying work under your belt really can help sort of train you up for this kind of a thing where you’re putting in a lot of hours for very little pay.

You know, really do your research. Look at all of the different options and figure out what’s best for you. Ask a lot of questions, visit campuses, figure out a way to do that. Talk to the professors, talk to the other students. You know, just be active. Whatever you choose to do, the real solution is be active.

Okay, so thanks for the great question guys. If you or anybody that you know has a question that you’d like to ask, feel free to leave it in the comments section below, or on The Pro Audio Files’ Facebook page. Don’t forget to like and subscribe, and I will catch you next time.

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com.
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