How can I change my career? I'm not getting any younger over here.
December 7, 2012 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Careerfreakoutfilter: I've always wanted to work in audio production. If I wanted to chuck my current career and follow this, how best would I do it?

I currently work for a television company doing semi-boring semi-technical stuff and I'm yearning to get more education. I've always wanted to work in audio-- previously radio, but now I'm interested in a career in audio postproduction for film or TV. I've taught myself the basics of Logic and ProTools by myself and taken a couple classes, and messed around doing foley stuff for radio plays but I really don't know where to begin.

How would I go about this? What schools are reputable (as opposed to for-profit diploma mills)? How does the industry work hiring-wise? Are there jobs in this field? (I live in Toronto, where a lot of film/tv stuff happens, if that helps). Do apprenticeships exist?

What can I do to start down this path, and how long before I can expect to be employed in this?
posted by custard heart to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot speak to the professional audio engineer market in your locale, but for the last 8 years or so, the common wisdom is that nobody goes into audio engineering to make money anymore. The cheap availability of tech and the glut of audio school graduates has basically flat-lined the field as far as a viable career goes.

That's not to say there aren't niches where you could be successful, or a few opportunities for the lucky or well-connected (you may have a leg up since you already work in a related field). But generally speaking... ugh. Don't do it unless you already have some prospects lined up.

Anecdotal data: I have two friends who are skilled audio engineers and accomplished sound designers with over 20 years of work in their CV's. They are both making their daily bread as musicians at the moment.

insert musician jokes here
posted by Aquaman at 10:44 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yep, it's like saying you want to be a musician. Not a wise career move except for the most talented and driven and lucky.
posted by spitbull at 11:52 AM on December 7, 2012

Apprenticeships are not something I hear about much, but studios are always looking for interns. If you are willing to do the unsexy work for free in return for the slight possibility of a job someday, this is generally the way to go about it.
posted by stephennelson at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2012

Oh, and I'd imagine you are looking at interning for a minimum of a year, and competing with recent grads of whatever schools are in Toronto.

Have you considered audio work in production as opposed to post? The demand for people there is generally higher, and has more options for entry-level work.
posted by stephennelson at 1:35 PM on December 7, 2012

Go into production audio. Great pay, high demand, and you can sometimes finagle a kit rental on top of it if you have your own gear.
posted by justjess at 6:16 PM on December 7, 2012

Disclaimer: I'm in the US and I work in live sound - it's been twenty years since I did any studio work, and I've never really done TV/film work.

Post Magazine and the "postproduction" areas of Mix Magazine and Pro Sound News would probably be useful resources for you, especially in finding out which companies in your area do post work.

The Toronto Film and Television Office and the Ontario Film Commission might also be useful resources.

To the best of my knowledge, Toronto is absolutely one of the best places to find work in this field - it's one of the top three, along with LA & NYC.

Formal education in audio is, well . . . . . . . . complicated? In transition? Hmmmm . . . . .

In the last decade or so there's been an absolute explosion of various colleges & universities offering some kind of "audio production" coursework, often as a specialization within the Music Department. And of course there are for-profit "trade schools" like Full Sail. The thing is, though, is that this is all very very new - I'm 44 and I'd consider myself basically first generation as far as actually having a college degree in "audio production."

This means that an awful lot of people currently working in "audio production" (likely including the people who will be hiring and training and mentoring and supervising you), have little or no formal education in the field - it simply didn't exist when they were younger. Some of the older ones are actually even a little suspicious of the whole idea of college degrees for audio pros, as in "No amount of sitting on your butt in a classroom is any kind of substitute for Real World Work Experience." So the industry in general is still pretty open to the idea of not having minimum education requirements for an entry-level job. Relevant or related work experience still pulls a lot of weight on a resume.

So, depending on your "semi-technical" work for your current employer, you could actually just go ahead and go through the normal job-seeking process. Find out which companies in your area do that work, use the magazines & websites to see if anyone's actually looking to hire people, even if they don't seem to be looking send in your resume and follow up with a phone call.

If you think your work experience isn't quite relevant enough, you could look into taking audio courses at nearby schools as a part-time student while keeping your existing job.

I think stephennelson & justjess are probably onto something, too - I'd imagine that an entry-level job audio production job "in the field" (as in, being on location while they shoot) might be easier to come by, and the kind of thing you could do part-time. That, of course, would be relevant work experience you could later use to transition to post-production.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:15 AM on December 8, 2012

« Older Can I have the moon please, or at least draw it...   |   What's a good second sewing project? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.