Sound designer

audio designer, sound supervisor
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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

£32,760

Currently employed in Scotland

5,300

Five year job forecast

+9.96%

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

Create sound effects or soundtracks for a variety of media. As a sound designer, you might create sounds to be recorded for TV, film or radio, or live sounds using physical objects in a theatre production. You might even produce sounds to be used in video games. 

Think creatively to use different software or objects to mimic various noises. You could work in a studio imitating sounds to be used in a battle scene or use synthesizers to produce noises that a UFO might make. You might also be involved in foley, which means recreating everyday noises such as doors slamming or glass breaking.  

If you work as part of a theatre production, you’d be backstage waiting for your cue to play pre-recorded sound effects or music to create an atmosphere.  

Some sound designers are employed by companies, but many are freelance either working project to project at different venues or for specific theatres. 

What you might do:

  • Recreate sounds using different objects, instruments or electronic systems 
  • Be aware of everyday noises and think creatively on how they can be imitated 
  • Work with a team of sound engineers, producers or directors to create audio storyboards 
  • Use audio software and sound implementation systems to produce, edit, distort or mix sounds  
  • Choose and layer the right sound effects and music to produce the right atmosphere 
  • Ensure the audio is at the right level not to drown out actor’s voices 
  • Compose and produce the right background music  

Working conditions

Hours

You’ll usually work regular hours, Monday – Friday. However, if you work in theatre you might need to work long hours for rehearsals and performances that could run over a long period of time.

Environment

You might work in a recording studio or in a theatre.

Travel

If you work with a theatre, you might have to travel if the show is touring.

UK employment status

Full-time

42%

Part-time

18%

Self employed

40%

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Listening
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Innovative

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

There are a different ways to get qualified for this job, through college, university study or work-based qualifications, such as apprenticeships.

Sound designers will often have HND’s and Degrees in subjects such as:

  • Music production/technology  
  • Sound/audio engineering
  • Sound technology/design

Employers might consider applicants without formal qualifications if they are able to demonstrate knowledge and experience of the industry.

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities have required subjects that you'll need to have for entry. The might also highlight additional subjects they value. It’s a good idea to check individual institution websites for specific entry information. 

Useful subjects would be:

  • Music/music technology
  • Physics/science
  • Maths
  • IT/computer studies
  • Design and technology

Helpful to have

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that show a range of transferable skills.

Being able to show skills in electronic music production is useful. It’s also helpful to be able to use audio tools such as Pro Tools and Audiokinetic Wwise and understand the processes and techniques of music mixing and sound engineering.

Relevant work experience would be beneficial and it would allow you to gain experience, network and build a portfolio.