How to Become a Sound Designer in the US

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Ever wonder why those sounds in horror films often get you gripping the edge of your seat? Well, that is the work of a sound designer. In a nutshell, these designers create sound effects for movies, video games, television productions and theatrical performances. Read on to find out more!

What Do Sound Designers Do?

Their typical tasks include:

  • Reading through a script to identify the sound design needs of the productions
  • Working with sound technicians to properly set up sound equipment needed to record sound
  • Using sound boards and computer software to manipulate the recorded sounds and produce suitable effects
  • Choosing, editing and remixing music for the production
  • Presenting the effects to the director and making any necessary adjustments based on the director’s recommendations
  • Attending production rehearsals.

Work Environment

Like most professionals in the TV and film industry, the work schedules of sound designers are determined by the specific demands of a production. Nonetheless, it is common to find them working late trying to beat tight production deadlines.

When creating the effects, sound designers spend their time in a sound studio or digital audio workstation, where they interact with various types of sound equipment.


What is the average annual salary for sound designers? Find out below:

Job Title

Annual Wage

Sound designer


Source: Indeed

Entry Requirements

You don’t have to obtain a bachelor’s degree in sound design to become a sound designer. Institutions such as Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts offer short-term courses in sound design that can give you the best preparation. The course covers topics such as:

  • Sound characteristics and editing
  • Understanding digital samplers
  • Sound design for visual media

However, if you wish to go all the way and earn a degree, you can earn a bachelor of fine arts from the Savana College of Art and Design in Georgia. Other universities offering the credential include:

If you are currently in high school, and you aspire to be a sound designer, it is best to get involved in sound production for school concerts and plays.

Important Qualities

To be a competent sound designer, you need:

  • Strong creative and artistic skills
  • Strong technical and computer skills
  • A good ear
  • To be enthusiastic about sound
  • Good creative problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Good practical skills
  • Good teamwork skills
  • Clear communication skills
  • Business and financial skills
  • A knowledge of occupational health and safety issues

Career Development

As a new sound designer, you will certainly begin by securing short-term contracts in various production projects. How do you transition from being a freelance sound designer to an accomplished professional who can secure full-time jobs?

First, you need to put effort in producing creative and functional sound effects. Treat your first project as an interview for future projects. Employers will often judge your abilities based on your past projects.

Second, network. Getting started in the film industry can be tough, unless you know the right people. Join professional associations such as the Association of Sound Designers, where you can meet other industry players.

Finally, pursue a master of arts in sound design to broaden your knowledge and improve your expertise.

Job Opportunities

The employers of sound designers include:

  • Radio and TV stations
  • Film production companies
  • Theatres
  • Performing arts companies

With vast experience, proven competence and advanced credentials, you can secure work in multi-million Hollywood projects. You can also establish your own sound design company and run it successfully.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the demand for movies and TV shows both in the US and abroad is strong. This definitely means more job opportunities for sound designers.

So if you think you are creative enough to create sound effects that can stimulate an audience – or scare them to death – then this is the career for you.