Back when I entered the audio program at SUNY Purchase around the turn of the millennium, a bachelor’s degree in “Studio Production” still seemed like something of a novel concept. Since then, enrollments for both 4-year and short-term programs in this once-niche market appear to have exploded nationwide.
Occasionally, engineers will gripe about the numbers of graduates some of these schools pump out. Those criticisms aren’t completely unwarranted, as it often seems there are far more fresh grads than there are paying jobs. I’ve even heard dismayed accounts from instructors at some of the less reputable private schools, who say they’ve been pressured into giving failing students passing grades in order to collect tuition dollars.
But even if all of that is true, there’s a flip side to this story: Despite a rapidly-shrinking paid market for recorded music, the number of audio engineers working in the field grew by more than 50% between 1999 and 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although that growth has since slowed (it’s been a brisk 25% if you look at just the past 5 years, and that growth is expected to freeze in place near 1% going forward) it’s clear that this increase in admissions didn’t come out of thin air. Even in the face of well-publicized stories about big rooms shutting down, there are in fact more studios in the world than ever before, and much more audio as well.
Still, as the audio boom of the past decade begins to taper off and expectations continue to rise, getting the best education possible could prove key for students keen on entering the field, and for working professionals looking to keep their edge. In light of this, we’ve decided to take a look at a few boutique workshops and audio schools that may help students of sound separate themselves from the rest of the pack.