Why I Think It’s a Good Idea.
Institutionalized education can be a great way for many people to learn and while there are many audio schools to choose from, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one may be right for you. These are my unendorsed opinions on why I think you can benefit from an education in audio engineering.
Schools tend to publish their graduate job percentages as a tool to gain prospective students’ interest. Follow some easy tips that may help you to look beyond those numbers and find out what a good audio school can really offer you.
A good audio school can help connect students with current and widely used technology. They will offer hands on training in the most common DAWs (digital audio workstations) and other software, mixing consoles, outboard gear, microphones – you name it. Look for a school that provides use of and education in the most current versions of these tools.
It could be argued that you can learn the same, if not more, from independent sources than simply from attending post secondary school. If you consider yourself highly motivated there is a plethora of information available online for learning new skills, refresher courses and tools to advance beyond ‘beginner’. However, what a good audio program can provide is a curriculum specifically designed to help you understand both the technical and the professional intricacies of a career in audio. Some programs may be more specific than others (ie: music production vs. audio post) and If you are unsure of where exactly your interests lie within the audio industry, look for a program that offers a broad curriculum. Gaining knowledge over many subjects will help you find the one that you are most passionate about.
Internships are arguably the best way for a less experienced person to find their way into the industry. Most of the time, these internships are unpaid, though recently there has been legislation put in place to oppose unpaid internships. One workaround for businesses to utilize unpaid internships is if they are part of an educational curriculum. Therefore, finding a school that requires an internship as a part of their program may help a student get that foot in the door. Of course, there are some businesses that will offer an internship regardless of education and there are some that will even offer paid internships. Also, a program that requires a co-op or internship will often have aides in place to help support the student, prepare their resumes and even help them find and apply for a work placement so consider that to be a great bonus!
The program professors have been selectively picked by the institution for their expertise and experience. Most often, those professors are still active in the industry outside of teaching. Opening a window to the industry is definitely a perk for students in audio school. Your professors will be able to share the most useful information to ensure student success after school. They may also offer connections to their own industry contacts, which can prove to be highly valuable when you are entering the workforce.
Apart from your professors, there is another group of people who you will be able to add to your network connections: your classmates! Making strong connections with your classmates is great while in school, but even more amazing when they become your peers in the industry. There is no telling what benefits will come from these relationships.
Not all schools are created equal. I hope this information gives you the tools to begin your search for the right audio program. There are many resources on the Soundgirls website to help you on this journey as well – whether you decide on institutionalized education or not.
School is not for everyone. Some people are successful at learning on their own, some are not financially able to afford post secondary education. There are many successful folks in the industry without a degree or diploma in audio. Knowledge is key to working in the industry but so is your drive and attitude. If you want to succeed, be a good person, have a good work ethic and never stop learning!
Chelsea Body is a freelance sound editor and foley recordist based in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Audio Post Production and Music Industry Arts programmes at Fanshawe College and is currently a Foley Editor and Operator at Footsteps Post Production.