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What does a Sound Technician do?

Anyone looking for a career in backstage and technical theatre should first consider what area most interests them. Sound Technicians, often referred to as Sound Engineers, produce, amplify, mix, record, sync and reproduce sound, effects and music for theatre rehearsals, theatre productions and special events. They’re also responsible for looking over the equipment, checking connections, maintaining sound quality and coordinating staff.

What are the main responsibilities of a Sound Technician?

  • Prepare soundboards and equipment for shows as well as maintain the quality of sound throughout a performance
  • Set up microphones on performers and in various places in the theatre
  • Check sound levels and make sure the equipment is functioning correctly
  • Run sound checks
  • Repairing and reporting sound equipment
  • Maintain the work areas for other sound professionals to ensure the safety and productivity for the team 
  • Attend meetings with key professionals such as the Director, Stage Manager or Deputy Stage Manager before rehearsals to help organise sound cues for the performance

What qualifications do I need to be a Sound Technician?

Formal qualifications are not essential as on-the-job training is provided, but many Sound Technicians complete qualifications in the field to prepare them for this career and also to increase their chances of being employed. Technician Apprenticeships are a good way to learn on the job, build a network and specialise later on. 

Find apprenticeship opportunities in backstage roles to help you get into theatre here

What skills do I need to be a Sound Technician?

  • A technical knowledge of electricity and electronics
  • Knowledge of the capabilities of different types of sound equipment
  • Attention to detail and understand health and safety requirements
  • Good communication
  • Work well in a team and on your own
  • Well organised and good under pressure
  • Ability to react quickly and creatively to any problems that arise
  • Patience, concentration and focus

What does a career as a Sound Technician look like?

Sound Technicians can begin by completing an apprenticeship or work experience at a local theatre venue or with a local theatre company. You can do this alongside specific sound courses.  All of this will help build your network of contacts and future employers. You can research and learn about sound mixing and editing software (e.g., Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Digico, QLab and Mainstage) to develop your skill set in your own time. Some Sound Technicians may want to work towards becoming Head of Sound

How much does a Sound Technician earn?

A starting salary for a Sound Technician can be an apprenticeship wage or on a minimum zero hour contract. Once you are more experienced and specialised you can set your own fee and rate. 

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less. 

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 

References:

https://careerswales.gov.wales/job-information/theatre-sound-technician/job-role

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/sound-technician-broadcasting-film-video

https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/live-sound-engineer

https://uk.indeed.com/cmp/National-Theatre/salaries/Sound-Technician

Photo: Alex Brenner

Updated: 6th June 2024

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