Movie companies rely on sound -- or sound engineering -- techs to create realistic sound effects, whether they're recording screaming women for horror films or replicating sounds of car crashes. Movie sound techs synchronize music and recordings with actions taking place on screen by using various types of audio equipment. If you want to become a movie sound tech, you need at least an associate degree or certification in sound engineering.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary for a movie sound tech is $83,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports average salaries of $76,300 for sound techs in the movie industry as of May 2012. To become a movie sound tech, you need at least an associate degree in sound engineering or certification through a vocational or technical school. You can earn your certification through either the Society of Broadcast Engineers, InfoComm International or other broadcast associations that certify sound engineers, according to the BLS. Movie companies may also prefer hiring sound techs with experience in sound engineering -- either in television, radio or the movie industry. Other essential requirements include manual dexterity and technical, communication, problem-solving and computer skills.
Salary by State
A movie sound tech may earn more in certain states, especially those where movies are most often produced. In 2013, movie sound techs earned the highest salaries in Massachusetts and New York, according to Simply Hired -- $101,000 and $98,000 per year, respectively. Those in California and Washington also made relatively high earnings of $94,000 and $91,000, respectively. If you worked as a movie sound tech in Georgia, you'd earn $79,000 annually. In Louisiana, you'd only make $70,000.
Movie sound techs likely earn more working for larger movie production companies, which have more resources to pay the higher salaries. Their salaries are higher in New York and Massachusetts because living costs are higher in those two states. For example, if you earned $85,000 as a movie sound tech in Atlanta, you'd need to make $200,471 in New York City to maintain the same living standard, according to CNN Money's Cost of Living calculator. In Boston, you'd need to earn $125,312 to enjoy the same living standard, or approximately 47 percent more.
The BLS projects a 10-percent increase in jobs for broadcast and sound technicians, including movie sound techs, from 2010 to 2020, which is statistically slightly lower than the 14-percent average for all other occupations. This stands to reason, as movie ticket sales were relatively flat from 2003 to 2013 -- 1.55 and 1.33 billion tickets sold, respectively, according to Nash Information Services. A better indicator may be the 28-percent increase in movie releases from 2002 to 2011, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Movie companies released 475 films in 2002 and 610 in 2011. If films are released at this pace in the next decade, you may find more job opportunities as a movie sound tech.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians Do
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Broadcast or Sound Engineering Technician
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Occupational Employment Statistics: Sound Engineering Technicians
- MovieMaker: Top 10 Cities to Be a Movie Maker: 2013
- Simply Hired: Average Movie Sound Tech Salaries in United States, New York, California and Texas
- Simply Hired: Average Movie Sound Tech Salaries in Washington, Massachusetts, Georgia and Louisiana
- Nash Information Services: Domestic Movie Theatrical Market Summary 1995 to 2013
- Motion Picture Association of America: Theatrical Market Statistics
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In Another City?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians: Job Outlook
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images