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Professional Audio 2014: Salaries and Careers

Returning to an annual tradition, Pro Sound News recently surveyed its readers about their primary and secondary business activities, job titles, and income.

Returning to an annual tradition, Pro Sound News recently surveyed its readers about their primary and secondary business activities, job titles, and income. We also asked that they share whether their primary occupation and income had changed in the past year, and whether they anticipated change in the coming year.

The primary and secondary incomes of audio professionals are represented in this chart, with the blue representing primary income and the red representing secondary income, both by range. Under 20 percent of our anonymous survey respondents reported an income from their primary business pursuit in each of the three lowest ranges: under $10,000, $10,000 to $24,999 and $25,000 to $49,999. 29 percent reported an income of $50,000 to $99,000. Under 4 percent reported making over $250,000 (see accompanying table). Interestingly, 85.6 percent of those sharing their primary income also indicated a second source of income from audio-related work—46 percent of those second incomes being under $10,000 and near 22 percent falling between $10,000 and $24,999. That leaves more than 30 percent of second incomes at $25,000 or above.

More than 40 percent of our survey respondents claim the primary job title of president, CEO, owner. That’s perhaps suggestive of our readership, but also of the owned-and-operated nature of many pro audio production companies, including independent engineers with a dba—doing business as—business profile. The job title that was claimed by the next largest group of respondents—just over 10 percent—was the rather generic “sound engineer.” In the 4 percent to 6 percent range fell the titles general management, recording engineer, mixing engineer, front of house engineer, musician or composer, educator and sales/marketing professionals.

Secondary job titles were more evenly distributed, with recording and mix engineering combining for 24 percent of the totals. Perhaps not surprisingly, some 12 percent of respondents reported a secondary job title of musician/composer, after adding in a couple of “musician” writeins from the “other” category.

A tendency towards independent work is also suggested by the survey results in the Primary Business Type category, with independent audio engineer accounting for over 15 percent. An equal number report a primary business type of “private recording studio.” Live sound/touring was chosen buy near 9 percent in this category, followed by educational facilities and commercial recording studios.

As for trends, 72.6 percent of respondents reported that they had roughly the same income this year as last. 16.2 percent reported a salary decrease while 11.2 percent saw a significant uptick in income. Looking forward, 70 percent of those surveyed expected that their income next year would also stay roughly the same. 5.5 percent expect a significant decrease in income while there’s optimism amongst 24.5 percent who expect a significant increase in income in 2015.

Also in the category of year-to-year changes, near 20 percent of the respondents report a primary job change since 2013, a number roughly mirrored by 24 percent reporting that they expect a primary job change in the coming year.