Despite stories of big studio closures and contracting CD sales over the last decade, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that the audio engineering profession has grown considerably since 1999. Although competition remains fierce and growth is expected to slow , median annual incomes have increased in recent years, rising from $30,000 to $46,000 between 1999 and 2010.
The government’s data on salaries draws heavily from the Occupational Employment Statistics (“OES”) survey, a questionnaire which is filled out by businesses that hire and pay workers. Although the BLS also conducts a Current Population Survey (“CPS”) survey that attempts to fill in gaps with answers from individual members for the labor force, it’s likely that even with this extra data, the government’s numbers may not fully account for the impact of the self-employed.
Based on the way these surveys work, it’s especially unlikely that the incomes of aspiring engineers who make a little extra money through recording on the side factor in much at all. While this can seem like a limitation at first glance, it may actually help keep the wage data fairly pure for our purposes. Despite their limitations, the government data on engineer salaries represents the best and most comprehensive collection of full and part-time compensation currently available.
Where are the jobs, by industry?
According to the U.S. government, the number of jobs for broadcast, audio and video engineers in general grew by 20%-25% from 1999 to 2010. Surprisingly, an even higher rate of job growth near 50% went to the small subset of those engineers who work specifically in sound engineering.
Unfortunately, growth isn’t expected to remain quite that high over the next decade…