Career Development

How To Become a Production Sound Mixer: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a production sound mixer, including education, skills, salary and more.

Production sound mixers are responsible for recording and mixing the audio for film, television and radio productions. This can be a very rewarding career for those who are passionate about audio and have a strong technical background. In this article, we discuss what a production sound mixer does, the average salary and how to become one.

What Does a Production Sound Mixer Do?

A production sound mixer is responsible for recording and mixing all audio during the production of a film, television show or other live event. They work closely with the director and other members of the production team to ensure that all audio meets the creative vision for the project. Production sound mixers typically have the following duties:

  • Setting up and testing audio equipment before filming begins
  • Placing microphones on actors and ensuring they are working properly
  • Monitoring audio levels during filming and making adjustments as necessary
  • Recording all audio during filming
  • Mixing recorded audio to create the final soundtrack
  • Editing audio files as needed
  • Working with the post-production team to ensure all audio meets the required standards
  • Keeping track of all audio equipment and ensuring it is properly maintained

Production Sound Mixer Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a production sound mixer is $45,835. This figure can vary based on the level of experience, education, industry and geographical location of the mixer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for production sound mixers to increase at a faster than average rate over the next decade. This is due to many factors such as the growing popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Production companies often need the expertise of a sound mixer to create high-quality audio for their content.

How to Become a Production Sound Mixer

Here are several steps you should take to become a production sound mixer.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in audio engineering or a related field

While a formal education is not required to become a production sound mixer, most employers prefer candidates who have earned a bachelor’s degree in audio engineering or a related field. A degree can help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary for this position, as well as provide networking opportunities that may be helpful when searching for work after graduation.

Some of the fields closely related to audio engineering include music technology, acoustics and musical composition. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a sound mixer for video games, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in game audio development. This program teaches students how to use specialized equipment and software used specifically for video game sound mixing.

2. Gain experience with sound mixing equipment and software

While a college degree is the minimum requirement for this career path, many employers also look for experience in sound mixing. You can gain this experience by volunteering or working as an audio engineer at your college radio station or other local venues.

You may also find entry-level jobs in recording studios, where you can learn about microphone placement and how to use studio equipment. Working in these roles will help you develop skills that are essential for a production sound mixer role, such as knowing how to operate sound mixing software and having strong listening skills.

3. Develop strong interpersonal skills

Production sound mixers interact with many different people on a film set, from the director and other crew members to actors. Since everyone has a unique perspective on how they want their sounds recorded or mixed, production sound mixers must be able to communicate clearly and listen attentively to each person’s needs.

This also means that you should be able to work well under pressure, since filming often takes place in tight timeframes. You may need to make quick decisions about what is most important to capture at any given moment.

4. Be able to work long hours, often under pressure

Production sound mixers often work long hours, sometimes under tight deadlines. They may have to meet production schedules and ensure that all the sounds are properly mixed for a project. This can mean working late into the night or early in the morning while others are sleeping.

Sound mixing is also an important part of filmmaking, so you may be called upon to perform this task on short notice. You should always be prepared to step in at a moment’s notice if another sound mixer falls ill or has another emergency.

5. Stay up to date on changes in technology

Technology is constantly changing, and sound mixers need to stay up to date on the latest developments. New software and equipment can make a production sound mixer’s job easier or allow them to do more in a given amount of time. For example, virtual sound mixing allows sound mixers to adjust audio levels remotely from another location.

Keeping informed about new technology also helps you keep abreast of any safety issues related to working with certain equipment. It also ensures that you know how to use the best tools for the job.

6. Join professional organizations such as the Audio Engineering Society (AES)

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) is a professional organization that provides networking and educational opportunities for sound mixers. Membership in the AES can help you find jobs, learn about new developments in the industry and improve your skills through training programs and seminars.

The AES offers several certifications to production sound mixers who want to demonstrate their expertise in certain areas of technology or software use. For example, the AES offers certification in Pro Tools audio mixing software.

7. Consider certification from the AES or other professional organization

While certification is not a requirement for sound mixing jobs, it can help you stand out from other candidates and show that you have the necessary skills to do the job. The Audio Engineering Society offers several certifications in audio engineering and production sound mixing, including one specifically for production sound mixers.

The certification process involves taking courses and passing an exam. You may also need to demonstrate your technical skills by providing examples of your work.


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