How to break into the professional audio industry – Find and keep your first video game jobs and recording studio jobs.

How to break into the professional audio industry – Find and keep your first video game jobs and recording studio jobs.

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My original article has been read by thousands of people. A few have reached out and shared their success! Yes, it is still possible to break in to this industry and I believe that you can too. I believe the original article still has valuable information, but some of it is definitely dated material. To handle this, it’s time to add some updates and resources for this decade! I’ll leave my original post at the bottom which I do still recommend reading as some of it is timeless advice. 


Breaking into game audio in 2020

Below you’ll find a huge amount of resources to help you build skills and learn how to break into game audio. Should you read them all? AB-SO-LUTELY! 
Yes, it will take at least a few days to read this information, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the efforts it will take to break in. 





For implementation I recommend taking Udemy courses on Unity and Unreal to learn basic systems. Audio touches every system so it’s key to know the fundamentals on each system.
Each one should take 20-40 hours. Go with Unreal if you are focusing on AAA, Unity if the focus is mobile or indie.
Buy them when on sale for $9-$13. This happens often.
This FMOD course is about to be released and many people mention him as a good teacher.
The Berklee wwise course is excellent, but I’m also biased as I used to teach it. It covers Unity and Wwise integration.
All the Wwise courses are free aside of certificates. Skip the certificates unless you want to teach and learn the materials for free.
Also dive into some Wwise projects.
Blipsounds has a great community of budding sound designers. It includes FMOD, Wwise and sound design education. Some courses are free!
All said and done, for about $50 and a few months of time, using some Udemy courses and using free materials from Wwise you can become quite good at understanding systems and implementation! Implementation is key to standing out among the overwhelming masses trying to break in the industry.


Your reel is your resume. It must shine and sell your skills. To help it do just that, watch Power Up Audio’s Reel Talk on Twitch. They analyze demo reels and go over how to best present skills on a demo for employers. 
Game audio requires a heck of a lot of audio engineering skills. To build, enhance, and improve your audio skills there are TONS of amazing tutorials online now. While Youtube is free, these courses are more streamlined and worth the money in my experience.,,, and Unstoppable Recording Machine on Facebook all have incredible audio tutorials to fill in audio engineer knowledge gaps. Honestly, their content is better than most colleges and much cheaper. For the record, I still subscribe to Lynda and MacProVideo as they regularly update content and the tools of our trade are constantly changing. Never stop learning!


If you are lucky there is a game audio group where you can begin networking locally. Below is a map of the existing game audio groups. If you aren’t near one, don’t fret! It’s 2020. Get online and start building your brand. As you do cool audio things share them. Amplify the message of others in the community and engage sincerely with audio people world wide. 

Worldwide Game Audio Groups


soundlister jobs
@Soundlister1 and @SchoolGameAudio


The fastest path to getting hired is to have the skills desired by a team and being on their radar as having those skills. The fastest path to improving your skills is to work on them as much as possible. Create every chance you can and put those creations out there as a testament to your skills. If you are just starting out then you may want to start at a place like Blipsounds where you can share internally with other people cutting their teeth on their skills as well.

Eventually, your skills will match your taste, your published work will be known by part of the community and that community will likely have an opening that matches your skills. 



Now that you have those resource, read my article below for more in depth details. Then, after you build a 5 year plan, pick your path based on your desired destination and charge forward! It typically takes about 3 years to get a break depending on the starting point and target destination. All the efforts snowball. It’s so hard at the start, but keep those eyes on the prizeπŸ‘ 




If you are reading this then you are likely aware of how difficult it can be to get your start as a professional audio engineer. You might be approaching the end of your college career and realizing the high level of competition and small amount of entry positions posted online for audio work. I know how it feels because that was me back in 2005 as I was graduating college in Denver, CO with almost no contacts in the industry. However, after a ton of hard work, and lots of great advice from helpful professionals, I eventually made it into the industry. Since graduating, I have worked at multiple world class facilities like LucasArts, Disney, Playful (Oculus Rift VR Launch Title), Naughty Dog, Retro, EA, Gl33k and more.

I’m now passing on the valuable knowledge that I had to learn the hard way in this post! Whether you want to work in recording studios or are a sound designer and composer looking for video game jobs, breaking in takes more than just talent and dreams. In this post I’ll give you a lot of tips on how to get your big break and stay employed once you do.

Making a plan

The first and most important step is to make a plan. Without a plan you will waste valuable time doing things that won’t get you where you want to be. Start by making a five, two, and one year plan. Be sure to start with big long term goals in mind.

Go ahead and start it now! I’ll wait. Once you know the big picture of what you want to achieve, the short term planning becomes much easier. Then you will have a better idea of what you’ll have to do to achieve your dreams.  Once you have the plan written out you just need to make sure that everything you do in life leads you to achieve those goals. If they don’t fit in the plan then they very likely are a waste of your professional time. Here’s an example of what you might put into your plan.

  • Recording Engineer plan example.
  • 5 year
    • 1. Become a Staff Recording Engineer at a well known studio.
  • 2 year
    • 1. Intern or assist at a reputable local studio.
  • 1 year
    • 1. Record a few bands.
    • 2. Improve knowledge on mixing, microphones and other gear.
    • 3. Take some classes on DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and audio engineering skills.
    • 4. Make a great sounding demo reel for clients and studios.
  • Sound Designer looking for video game jobs plan example.
  • 5 year
    • 1. Become a lead sound designer at a reputable game studio.
  • 2 year
    • 1. Get credit on a well known game mod or small developer project.
    • 2. Continue to update your resume and develop contacts.
  • 1 year
    • 1. Get experience making sounds for games using game specific tools.
    • 2. Begin networking and start visiting game developer conferences.
    • 3. Make a resume and demo reel

Solving The “Experience” Paradox.

Now that you have a plan you just need to get the ball rolling There is a problem though: In order to get a job in the industry you need experience, but to get experience you need a job. This makes it seem like there is a huge wall between you and your goals. Most jobs have this dilemma and game industry jobs are no exception! Don’t worry, there are ways around this.

One solution is to buy some audio gear and teach yourself how to do things. Quality DAWs are cheaper every day. Many professional game tools, such as Wwise, are available for a free trial. There are numerous sources of tutorials online that cover all of these subjects. I believe that the best learning tool is experience. By doing things on your own you can learn how things work in a pressure free environment. Here are some recommendations of common tools and skills you should have.

Audio Engineer Tools: ProTools (Cubase, Sonar, and Logic are also great, but less common in pro studios), digital plug-ins, outboard gear (compressors, EQ, preamps, signal path, consoles), microphones, Mac Computers (much more common than PCs).

Audio Engineer Skills: Mixing in the box and on consoles,  how to properly use microphones, basic music theory knowledge, recording and dealing with bands, cable wrapping (over/under FTW), and coffee making (Yes, I’m serious).

Game Industry Sound Designer Tools: Wwise (or another game sound engine such as FMOD), Unreal Ed (or another similar game engine like Crysis), Unity (Very popular game engine for mobile developers), Sound Forge or Peak for batch processing (I’m a much bigger fan of sound forge), SoundMiner or another sound library management tool like Basehead, Perforce source control, Native Instruments Komplete, Waves plug-ins and other creative tools like SoundToys and GRM tools, multitrack editing software like ProTools, Cubase, Sonar or Logic, MAC and PC computers.

Game industry sound designer skills: How to integrate sounds into a game, how to use game building tools like Unreal Ed ( has some great free tutorials on this), quickly editing and batch processing lots of files at a time, memory management/limitations of current platforms,  capturing gameplay (Fraps or other capture devices), how to set up a ProTools session with video capture of game-play and bounce out sounds to put into your game.


While you are getting your start you need to develop your resume.  Formatting is very important to a good resume.  A well formatted resume ensures your employer you pay attention to detail. Sloppy resumes show that you can’t even take a simple task seriously.

Find some resumes online and get a feel for what they should look like.  If you have access to professionals who look at resumes then ask them for help as you set yours up.  It will take years to get meaningful experience.  Until then, fill the resume with every little audio related thing you have done.  This includes albums you have worked on, assisting on things, personal projects, goals, skills, and tools you are familiar with.  Update your resume each time you progress through your goals.

Leave out anything that is totally unrelated, like restaurants, unless you had a management position and you have nothing else to put.  As you progress your resume will start to fill itself out.  Better resumes will open up more options to you in your career.  Eventually you will look at your resume and wonder why it was so hard to get it started.  Keep your eye on the prize and you will get there.

Demo Reel

Your demo reel is vital to get your big break.  A demo reel is just a collection of works by a person.  Though the term originally comes from having your work on reel to reel tape, the colloquialism is still used today.  It will show employers your skills.  In this digital age it is important to have both your demo reel and resume online.  Recruiters meet hundreds of audio people at every convention so it is important to have an easy to find and well organized demo reel.

Now that you have some skills you can put together your best work into a demo.  Remember that your demo reel needs to demonstrate the one skill that the job requires.  If you want to be a sound designer, then it’s best to have video that only has an SFX stem.  No one likes to hear music on a foley demo.  Similarly, no one wants to hear explosion SFX over a music demo.  Keep it short and sweet.

I have learned that three video demos are enough.  However, if you only have one video that is professional don’t put two other videos on your reel just as filler.  Everything on your demo needs to be of the highest quality you can produce.  Try finding a movie clip online, stripping out all the sound, and redoing it in your programs.  Start with video that is between 30 seconds and one minute.  Don’t pick a five minute video unless you have time to really do all five minutes at the best of your abilities.  I don’t know any audio leads who have five minutes to spare anyway, so just focus on getting 1-2 SOLID minutes that demonstrate your skills. Your demo reel needs to be easy to navigate and mastered well.  If it isn’t organized it makes you seem unprofessional.

Be sure to mention what work you actually did on each part of your demo reel.  Well organized reels also show that you can pay attention to detail so make the demo a seamless experience.  Keep your demo online in a common format like Quicktime H264.  Display the link to your website on your resume.  Having a few DVD copies of your demo reel is also useful, but many people I know prefer to find your work on the internet for convenience. Vimeo is the best site for professional demos in my opinion because it defaults to high fidelity, but Youtube has far more searches so either one is fine.

In the games industry, if you get a break you may get asked to make a specific demo for a studio.  They will send you a video and you will have a chance to prove your talents.  MAKE SURE YOU TAKE ALL THE TIME THEY GIVE YOU AND DO IT RIGHT!  By this I mean you should borrow or rent the best audio gear you can find to work on it.  Mix it in a well tuned room and on headphones.  Get feedback from other audio people before you send it off.

This could be your big chance and it’s worth putting other things aside to get it done.  You will only get one shot at these “auditions” so you need to make sure you do your best work.  These studios won’t cut you a break just because you only own cheap gear or a lack of free time.  Do whatever it takes to make this sound AMAZING.  Also, finishing it quickly doesn’t earn you any extra points.  Be sure to use all the time they give you to polish your work.

Immerse yourself in your trade

Subscribe to online audio forums, websites and trade magazines.  Make friends in the audio profession who are starting out just like you.  Buy gear to use at home for practice.  Act like the person you want to become.  Here are a few of my favorite online sources.

Attitude is Everything

Positive attitudes can be more important than talent.  I believe this now more than ever.  If you are a positive person who gets the job done you will be more likely to get a good job and recommendations.  Think about it.  Would you rather hire a super talented jerk who is difficult to work with, or a person of average talent that is uplifting and fun to be around.  I know that I’d prefer to work with people that make every day a fun experience.  Attitudes and work ethics can be infectious whether they are negative or positive.

You should know that word travels very quickly in these tight knit industries.  By being a positive and passionate person your attitude will help you get started in the industry.  It will also improve your reputation and help you get work in the future.  So when you are starting in the industry give a lot of thought to how you want to be thought of throughout your career. Who wants to be a mean anti-social jerk anyway?  What better time to change your attitude than now while you get your start.  Besides, developing a positive successful attitude will do wonders for your personal life as well.  πŸ™‚

Where to start – Persistence is paramount

If you already have a basic knowledge of these tools then it’s time to get more professional experience. I recommend internships for people wanting to work in studios. If you want to work in games you should work on mods or other projects for free. Almost all recording studios are in need of interns or people to help out. You may need to contact them multiple times to prove you are interested. The best studios get hundreds of applications a month to be interns. You have to stand out from the crowd by proving your determination to succeed, doing good work, remembering that you are a subordinate and showing professionalism.

College experience helps you get in the door, but isn’t necessary. It is more important to know the profession and have a positive attitude. You can find game audio positions on This site has lots of projects looking for sound designers for small projects. Mod communities exist for many games, and they are a great way to learn how things work.

Keep in mind that You WILL have to do some free grunt work for a while until you build up a resume!  The tasks you do at this stage of things will be the work other people don’t want to do.  Accepting this becomes easier if you keep your eye on the prize.  Sweeping floors, cleaning up after sessions, and making coffee become daily tasks.  By demonstrating your thirst for knowledge and success you will show prospective employers how valuable you are.   You will also learn a lot of very important things along the way.  I was an unpaid intern about 8 months at a few places early on in my career.   I learned how to work with clients, how to act as an intern, how to run professional studio sessions, and other things that have formed how I work today.  Remember, EVERYBODY had to start somewhere!

College for the entertainment industry – Necessary or a waste of time?

College is expensive, a lot of work, and a lot of time.  So, is it a necessary step in achieving success in as an audio person?  Now that I’ve been in the industry for a while I can safely say that success isn’t dependent on college experience.   However, college can be a very good at opening doors to your future.  I attended two colleges for music related careers and came out with two degrees.

After all that effort I only received brief recognition of my college experienced.  No one has ever checked into my grades or coursework.  What I gained from my college education mostly came from connections, a sponsored internship, and obviously the classwork that improved my skills.  Many internships require college so if you skip education then you are at a disadvantage over those that haven’t.

College also puts you in touch with like minded people who can teach you more than any class.  Developing these contacts can get you work and expand your skill sets much more than college classes will.  Most of the audio professionals I know have gone to college for their trade.  Many of them didn’t graduate.  I recommend at least starting college to build contacts and get an internship.  It will make things much easier on you in the long run.  Having a degree does look better on a resume than not having one.  However, having a ton of professional experience seems far more important than college in the audio industry.

Networking and Interviews

Conferences, College, Classes, Facebook, LinkedIn, Online Audio Forums and musician friends are all good to use for networking.  Keep a list of every contact you have in Outlook, Gmail, or other organized manner.  Make sure you back-up this list.  It may very well hold the name of the one person willing to give you your big break.

Conferences are the best places to develop professional contacts in the games industry. You should really invest your time and money to go to GDC. If you can’t afford it, they take volunteers in order to earn a free badge through working the conference!

First, warm up by talking to some people about audio.  I also recommend a practice interview with a friend.  This way you will be socially loose and ready to go.  Now that you have your resume, demo reel, and a knowledge of the industry you can really make things happen.

Go to each recruiters booth and ask if they have position open for a sound designer.  If they do then keep asking questions and be confident.  Express your interest and passion for game audio.  Give them your resume and a DVD of your demo reel.  Having any sort of game experience on your resume immediately puts you ahead of every other audio person who isn’t prepared.

If they don’t have any positions you should find out if they ever hire external contractors or only use internal sound designers.  Either way, be sure to get their contact info, write notes on their details, and follow up about a week later.  If they have a position and are considering you for a position make sure you are persistent.  Show them that you really want the work and are interested in the position.  Don’t be too pushy, but be sure to keep up on all leads for a position.

At first you won’t get any offers, but as your resume improves and you get more confident the offers will come much easier.  If you keep working hard and building everything I’ve described you’ll have a huge list of professional contacts all willing to help you get work.  At this point it becomes more about managing your professional contacts than going to recruiting booths.

Now that you are out there developing professional contacts with the necessary experience you will eventually get interviewed.  Interviews really come down to answering one question:  Are you the best overall person for this position on this team at this time.  You need to communicate that you are this person early in the interview for them to know it. To be this person you need the proper work history, attitude, and skills to do the job.

Don’t be afraid of talking yourself up.  I’ve botched interviews in the past because I was afraid to brag about my own talents.  Don’t come off cocky, just be confident of your abilities and assure them that you can handle the position.

Do your research on the company you are interviewing for.  By doing your homework you will appear more interested in the position and come off looking like a better prospective hire.  Have a list of questions for them based on your research.  Showing up prepared with a pencil, paper and pre-written questions makes you look very prepared and organized.  You can ask them questions about their games, life/work balance, tools and workflows.

You should also ask for more specifics about the position and what it is like to work for the company.  Remember to be personable, honest, and confident.  Definitely set up some practice interviews with friends before you go to the real interview.  Think up what they may ask you and have some responses ready.  If you do all this you will greatly improve your chances of getting the position when you get your big chance!


You may be wondering why I’m giving all of this advice for free.  Well, I want to help people get their start just like some audio professionals helped me when I was starting out.  Now that you are armed with more knowledge on how to get your start, you are well on your way to becoming an audio professional.  It starts as an uphill battle, but you can learn to enjoy the challenge.  Keep focused on your long term goals and you will achieve them in no time.

Remember, I had no connections in the audio industry in 2004 and very little experience. Through tons of networking, hard work, persistence, and dedication I’ve managed to work with Sony, EA, LucasArts, Disney, and many more studio doing professional audio work. Never stop believing that it is achievable and you will find a way to break in!

Please post a comment if this helps you at all.  I’d love to hear about your successes, trials, failures, and any other feedback you have on this post.  Thanks for coming by.  I hope this helps give you the confidence to achieve your dreams.  If it does, feel free to pay me back by buying me a nice Belgium beer at a game or audio conference. πŸ™‚  More importantly, pass your knowledge on to those around you to help build a better audio community.  Who knows, one of you may end up being my boss someday!

-Aaron Brown


Thanks for visiting the Aaron Brown Sound blog! Come back soon for more posts about video game audio, audio engineering, sound design, composing and all other things relating to being an audio professional πŸ™‚


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  • JamesW

    An inspiring and concise post that has definitely helped clear things up for me.

    I’m a fresh and naive UK sound graduate looking to “get in” anywhere I can but am fast learning that demonstrating real world work experience and credits counts for everything in audio and that a degree doesn’t really mean much in the industry.

    Speaking as someone trying to make a resume / demo reel website with no pro demos and just one coursework project – a full sound reskin of two scenes form the matrix, how do you know if it cuts the mustard to be demo worthy, particularly regarding the mastering quality more than anything? Is it wrong to get a demo reel mastered profesionaly? I assume so.

    I may be out of line here (sorry) but would I be able to get your honest critique of it if you have a spare few minutes. Being the only demo peice I have to show on my quest for any sound work, I feel alot rides on getting this right.

    In any case cheers for the practicial advice on here.

  • admin

    I’m glad you liked the post.

    You generally want to do everything on your demo and not get it mastered elsewhere. I’d say that you should just make sure the levels are consistent between all things on your demo. Put a nice limiter on the master bus and compare the sound of your demo to professional videos. I started by downloading trailers and gameplay footage from Once you compare a few to your demo you will be able to hear how your demo compares. As you learn more about processing you will be able to easily tell how to fix it. Also, basic mastering and master bus processing is a skill that’s worth learning for sure! I’ll probably make a post about this sometime soon.

    If you want feedback on your demo it would be a great idea to join and put your demo up for critique. They helped me a LOT when I was starting out. It took about four attempts until my demo was professional enough. Keep perfecting your craft and you’ll get there. Feel free to send me the link, or reply to this message with a link, and I’ll check it out when I get a chance. It may be a while though, I’m pretty swamped lately πŸ™‚

    Aaron B.

  • Alex Di Vito

    Hello Aaron,

    Love this article! It’s resonated well with me on every level, so thanks for that πŸ™‚

    By the way, the TapeOp magazine you suggested to subscribe to was actually started by a couple of students at my uni in Leeds, UK! Glad to see it’s popular around the globe.


  • admin

    Glad you liked the article πŸ™‚ send over the links to your resume/demo and I’ll help however I can!

  • Alex Di Vito

    Thanks for the reply! I’m currently a Music Tech student in the UK, so I’m still putting together some demo stuff and a resume. However, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions via email as part of my course? One section of an industry based module is to interview someone from the industry on different aspects such as how they got into the business, 5 year plans, costs etc. Obviously, you’ve covered plenty here but there’s some specifics I need. Would you oblige? πŸ™‚

    Thanks again!


    PS, I couldn’t find your email anywhere (unless I’m blind) so I’d need that to send questions if you’re available to do so πŸ™‚

  • admin

    Send it over and I’ll get to it when I get a free second. Also, if it’s cool I’d like to share the answers on the website if that’s ok. Aaronbrownsound at gmail dot com πŸ™‚

  • Erik


    I really appreciate this article, and have been working to put it in to practice already. Thank you! With that, I have a question:

    Could you give advice to someone who is looking to work in sound design, has some years experience but only about a year of professional
    contacts and professional work examples, and — here’s the meat of the question — will be the partner of someone (and who will also themselves be)
    living overseas and changing countries they live in every 2 years? The countries could really be anywhere around the world.

    I’m concerned that living overseas and moving somewhat frequently will prevent me from gaining the necessary contacts to really begin and maintain a career..
    Could you (or anyone reading) think of an advantage or disadvantage this type of arrangement would give?
    Thank you very much!

  • admin

    Hey Erik,

    I don’t know many people in that set of circumstances, but it will definitely make it much more difficult to start and maintain a career. A lot of this business is being around when work is available and continually pushing your quality sound design. There are game developers in other countries that should need help, but it certainly depends on where you are moving.

    I think the best bet would be to make a website for your work and focus on social media and linked in to work contacts once your online presence is established.

    You’ll obviously need a portable sound design rig. I know a few people who do remote work on a portable PC so not all work has to be in house.

    Good luck!

  • Nic

    Hey Aaron!

    This is a great article, and I think its great you have taken the time out to help the new guys coming into the scene (like myself). So thanks a lot for the great read and advice.
    I am looking for a bit of direction in the learning path. I am currently using FMOD Studio and can create basic events no problem, but am completely lost when it comes to controlling them from within a game engine. I am currently using Unity and have integrated FMOD ok. I am assuming I need to use scripting to control the events and their parameters? If you could give me any advice/info to push me in the right direction from here that would be much appreciated.

    Thanks again,


  • admin

    Hey Nic,

    I’m actually starting up a website called to teach topics just like this! I will post on here as soon as we cover unity basics πŸ™‚

    Essentially, game objects output all sorts of values that game audio engines use to make sound. This can include distance to listener, speed, state changes, destruction, damage, etc. what each object sends is entirely based on how those objects are scripted to operate. So, fmod can’t do anything unless the objects output a value from unity it can work with.

    Once you have the values outputting from unity to fmod you can determine how those values are interpreted and used to modify or play sounds.

    It is far too complex for a short comment, but expect tutorials soon πŸ™‚

  • Nic

    Thanks for the reply!

    Ye I assumed there was no easy answer to a question like that, I guess I was just trying to work out the most relevant areas to focus my learning. I really want to get stuck into FMOD/WWISE but it seems as though these tools are useless without any prior knowledge of games design and scripting.

    Already looking forward to your tutorials!

    Thanks again,


  • Ivan Mad Vejarano

    Thx Aaron! Superb post…you gave me wheels!

  • Braden Herndon

    Really helpful! Thank you!

  • Andrei Diaconu

    Awesome article. And awesome looking studio πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  • Vinny DiPersio

    Great read, I will definitely be putting this into action. Thank you for the wonderful advice!

  • Melissa Pons

    Very positive things in here! I hope to come back in five years and pay you beers for a whole week. By the way, what do you think of applying for other positions in a game company to get inside the industry, workflow, meet people, etc? Thank you and thank you!

  • Aaron Brown

    Glad to hear it Ivan! Keep your eye on the prize and please update me as things start to work out.

  • Aaron Brown

    No problem at all Braden! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  • Aaron Brown

    Right on Andrei! The studio has improved quite a bit in the last year… new photos coming soon! Good luck out there πŸ™‚

  • Aaron Brown

    Glad to hear you are charging forward Vinny! It’s hard breaking in, but a very fun and rewarding career once you make it. Please keep me posted on how it all works out or with future questions πŸ™‚

  • Aaron Brown

    Beers for a week… SOLD πŸ™‚ I think ANY job in the industry is a great start as long as you keep your goals towards the sound department. I know many sound designers and composers who started in places like QA departments. This helps show dedication on a resume as well as train you to learn how games work.

  • Melissa Pons

    Thank you for replying! Have a great week and write more, please! πŸ™‚

  • daniel schambach

    Whoa. I’m not even an audio guy (have been a producer and design studio manager for 15 years) and this is one of the most motivating articles i have read to date on the subject of getting a job in the graphics industry. all of what you said if wonderful and inspiring. Thanks for writing this. really well done.

  • Aaron Brown


  • Corey Zielke

    Okay so I am going into my second semester of college now. Last semester I was just doing general studies but I knew in my heart that I would ultimately decide to go down the audio engineering/recording path. Its what Ive always loved to do. My question is, would it be safe to just stick with a certificate of technology that includes an internship? or should I go with an associates or bachelors degree? Im at an impass, I dont want to continue taking courses to meet a degree that may or may not be ultimately neccessary. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I only have a few days left to register for this semesters courses.

  • Aaron Brown

    Hi Corey,

    I can offer advice, but ultimately this important decision is something you’ll have to decide for yourself. In my experience internships and who you know open FAR more doors than any degree in this field.

    If you know how to run consoles, have a GREAT demo of your work, how to run sessions, all about gear (microphones, preamps, guitar rigs, synths), microphone techniques, and how to work well with clients then you should have all you need to begin down the path of an audio engineer.

    Degrees merely show employers that you took your craft seriously enough to get one. All the work I get comes from people I know and have worked with. Results speak volumes! If your demo is kick ass, you network like crazy, and start interning to build your knowledge I’d honestly say you could probably save the money and time of getting the full degree.

    However, finishing the degree will also help you network within the school. Think of all the opportunities your professors and fellow students can help you with in the future. Never ignore the contacts you can make in your current surroundings.

    Also, there are excellent online tutorials from, Recording Revolution, MacProVideo, Audio School Online, Sonic Academy and PureMix that were more useful to me than my schools courses. You could probably buy ALL those amazing online courses for the cost of two college courses πŸ™‚

    Finally, college can be an experience that helps people grow as human beings. I know for a fact that college helped me grow as a person both in overall knowledge of the world and socially. It’s important to take this into consideration in my opinion.

    Whatever you decide, remember that persistence, hard work, networking and real world experience are the most important parts of success that I’ve witnessed. Good luck making the decision and let me know how it all goes!

  • Corey Zielke

    Thank you so much for the advice. After consulting with my counselor Ive decided that going with the certificate may be my best course of action at the moment. Im told that once the certificate is completed if it turns out that I deem the associates to be necessary, I can return to school and finish out the few credits that make the difference and ultimately still receive my associates degree. I also discovered that my school offers alot in the way of internships so I will surely be stepping out into the world of audio engineering very soon. This has been weighing heavy on my mind for a few weeks now and your help is greatly appreciated! Maybe you can hook me up with some connections over at EA or SONY once I have some more experience under my belt lol. Thanks again for this truly helpful article.

  • Thomas Couchard

    Hello, thanks for this article it does help a lot. I want to be a sound designer in the video games industry and I’m currently looking for an internship, super stressful stuff! I have basically no contact and I’m not in the US so the big conventions are kinda out of the picture for me. But I’m sending resume and my demo around and I’m wondering, when you say you should be persistent but not too annoying what does it exactly mean? I have the hardest time figuring out if I waited long enough to mail them/call them again or if it will just make me sound annoying. I actually had a guy who said his company was interested and since then I get no replies after 2 mails that I sent back, I’m kinda lost on this one.

  • Aaron Brown

    Breaking in is definitely a lot of work! Keep it up Thomas πŸ™‚

    Learning how much and how often to follow up with possible clients is an art unto itself. Keep in mind that most places of business have a LOT going on and the fact they haven’t gotten back with you probably isn’t due to disinterest. It’s important to understand and respect their busy schedules and chain of command.

    However, don’t let them forget about you either. I think it’s probably a good start to follow up once a week with the person who you are in contact with about the position.

    When you call let them know you are just checking in about the process and seeing if they need anything else from you. They will probably tell you when they are making the decision. Then you will know more details and can figure out the best next time to contact them.

    Emails are also often glossed over due to overflowing inboxes of higher importance than possible hires. I find it better to call and be personable. It’s much better to meet people in person, or call on the phone than email them in my experience.

  • Thomas Couchard

    Thanks for your answer. Yes I know it’s better to really go and see them or call them but I didn’t really knew if it was good as a “first contact”. I’m just sending my demo/CV/website and all this, but maybe I should call them even if they don’t answer or even just straight up call them?
    Because if they don’t answer I basically assume they are not interested and I move on, I guess it’s wrong then (which is good because not many answer).

  • Aaron Brown

    Ahh, if you are cold calling it’s different. If you have never met them and they don’t have a job listing posted it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear back from them on a cold call. Almost all the work I get is from a contact who has worked with me or worked with someone I previously worked with. Cold calls just aren’t very effective in this industry. Networking and meeting people in person is the way to go before you get enough contacts and experience to sell yourself to new clients.

    I hope that helps πŸ™‚

  • Thomas Couchard

    Oh ok thank you, it does help. Maybe I’ll see you around some day!

  • James W Sorrell

    Aaron, thanks for the information and sharing the life experience. This is all incredibly solid gold! I’m a second year student in a bachelor of science degree for audio production and sound engineering, one thing I’m noticing is that it is really geared for recording studio experience and not so much gaming, which don’t get me wrong, all incredibly valuable skills to know but I’m more interested in the process for sound design and gaming. I wanted to know where you would recommend I go to learn FMOD or coding as well on my own. I love the audio engineering aspect of my schooling but really am interested to get into the meat and potatoes of sound design and coding for game. Thanks again for all your advice and input! -James Sorrell

  • Aaron Brown

    Hey James,
    I also went to an audio school with no video game program. I feel your pain!
    I’d recommend Wwise and Lua to start, but FMod and any popular programming language would be useful πŸ™‚
    Definitely focus on sound design and implementation over programming skills. Usually sound designers only need to know basic code in order to know where to put lines of audio code.
    As far as where to learn it at this time I’m not sure of the best options. I’m planning on making a lot of tutorials on these topics in the near future on a new blog called PlayDotSound!
    You could use Wwise, Unreal Ed, and Audiokinetic’s game CUBE to start implementing and experimenting with how game audio works.
    Glad to hear you are interested in this topic! I’ll update you when tutorials get started later this year πŸ™‚
    Hope that helps!

  • Simon James

    Thanks for this article!

    I’ve been going at this full time for about 3 months now and the thing I’m finding the hardest is networking. I’m definitely going to have to get myself to a conference asap, there doesn’t seem to be any other way to make contact with fellow designers or developers!

    I’ve got one game under my belt, a small app which is out now on iOS and Android and I’m coming along a bit with implementation. Just need to get stuck in on a Mod.

    Thanks for all the great info, I’m heading over to PlayDotSound right now!

  • Gill

    to be a professional sound engineer… is it necessary to be able to play all the instruments like the guitar, bass and drums? and do we need to have advance musical skills in the instruments or just intermediate?

  • Aaron Brown

    Absolutely not! Having basic skills and knowledge is a must, such as keys, bpm, etc. Advanced skills are useful as well, but far from required to be an excellent sound engineer.
    That being said, most of the great engineers I’ve met all play one instrument decently well. It helps you to understand music in general on a deeper level.
    It’s FAR better to focus on being the best engineer you can be instead of learning 5 instruments!
    Being an amazing sound engineer is a pursuit that can last a life time in and of itself πŸ™‚
    So, figure out what makes you the happiest, and do that.

  • Gill

    thank you for your reply πŸ™‚ i will be applying for a sound engineer course this year and your article is just the right push for me.

  • Paul Benson

    Hi Aaron, thanks for the great article (five years ago–it’s got legs!). I’m working as a live sound engineer, have sound designed quite a few short indie movies, and to aid my transition to the game industry, am just about to finish up my CUBE implementation demo with all original sound design and music. (I’ll put it up at in August and also have a playable version, either for download or on a USB stick. (Any thoughts on a format?)) I also have been fairly regularly going to game audio meetups and networking once a month or so there.

    I’m wondering if you have any specific advice on how to go from more casual networking to something that might turn into a job lead, studio tour, informational interview, etc. I’m hitting the awkward wall between “How’s it going?” and “Do you have a job for me?” When you were starting out networking, did you call/email/LinkedIn people to get coffee, or request informational interviews, or did things just develop naturally out of networking events and conferences? Thanks!

  • Carlos Rey

    Great advice to those considering a career in the professional audio
    field as to what to do and expect as well as how to get started and
    prepared emotionally and mentally to spend some time polishing the
    skills and bidding their time to get their “shoe” in the door. Through
    your hardships and experiences as herein expressed, others can “gauge”
    whether they have or not, what it takes to become a successful if not at
    least employable audio industry professional; not that this will
    reflect everybody else experiences, but it reflects the collective
    likelihood of what anyone would have to go through. Your advice has
    helped me realize that one would need to have plenty of time to spare
    and few if any obligations in order to be as fully committed as possible
    to become an audio professional; I only wish I had found this kind of
    advice over thirty years ago when I was choosing between the “art of
    life” and the “life of art”, so for those reading this the lesson is:
    choose wisely and choose early. Thank you for this “timeless” advice!

  • Aaron Brown

    Happy to help Carlos and glad you found the information all useful πŸ™‚

  • Aaron Brown

    I do have specific advice for this. Think of it more as making sure you are a fit for the client rather than giving a hard sell. Be confident in your abilities, be in the scene, meet the right people, and inquire into their projects. Then, by actually caring about their projects and ensuring you are a good fit they will trust you more. Build the trust before you make a pitch for your skills!

  • Aaron Brown

    GDC is a life changer if you want to work in games! Very invigorating and insightful. Hope you made it out there and are working on a mod by now πŸ™‚

  • Michaela BrunovskΓ‘

    I found this article now via googling How to be sound designer. Very useful tips here! And very motivating words, thank you very much! When I was reading it, I have felt like there is a hope to do in this industry, almost as the woman.