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What is a Sound Designer?

A sound designer works with the sounds of a film, movie, video or other project to ensure that the end user receives a rich sensory experience, and that the sound matches the overall vision for the project. While music is a large portion of what a sound designer works with, they may also create and add other sound effects, such as the sound of thunder on a rainy day, or the sound of creepy footsteps in a horror scene. This professional helps give the end user a more realistic and engrossing experience, adding to the quality of the project.

A sound designer should be knowledgeable and proficient in the software and tools used in sound design. He or she should also have sensitivity to the sounds that are naturally occurring within a variety of environments and areas.

Work Environment

Like others who work on films and videos, a sound designer must have access to computers and computer-aided sound effects software. This typically means that the majority of their time will be spent in a studio or office, though they may need to often meet with other department heads to ensure that the overall vision for the project is being realized. They are employed in a variety of industries including the motion picture and video industry, which is one of the top employers of sound designers.

Education Requirements

Because there is no category for sound designers through the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals are lumped in with broadcast and sound engineering technicians. The BLS states that no formal education is required in order to become a broadcast and sound engineering technician, but most employers will want to see some level of formal education before hiring a sound designer. A bachelor’s degree in film or multimedia art and animation is recommended for those who want to have great job prospects and opportunities.


The annual median salary for a sound designer will fall somewhere between that of a multimedia artist and a sound engineering technician – or between $41,200 and $61,370. However, this is simply the middle line; multimedia artists in the top 10% earned more than $113,000 in 2012. Many things will affect the salary of a sound designer, including the professional’s location, their education and amount of experience they have and more. The states with the highest level of employment for this field are California, New York, Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Job Outlook

Again, the statistics for this career will fall between a multimedia artist and sound engineering technician – or between a 6% and 9% job growth rate through the year 2022. As the motion picture and video industries and the marketing and advertising industries grow, the demand for quality sound designers will also grow. They are an essential part of creating a high-quality video or game, and job prospects and opportunities are fair.

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