Should You Go to Audio Engineering School?


I can’t personally answer this for you but I will say these two things that will probably confuse the hell out of you at first but hopefully will make sense by the end. 

First, I don’t believe in school in general. I think it’s pointless and a waste of time and money. Pretty much everyone I know, other than my wife, are doing a job that they didn’t study for in university or college. And I know, I know, that’s just anecdotal evidence. But I don’t feel like school prepares us for the real world. 

Secondly, I wish I went to audio engineering school. But when I finished high school, I didn’t even know such a school existed. Because I grew up to immigrant parents in a poor neighborhood I had no idea there was such thing as schools for audio engineering or film school or anything creative. All I knew was that people went to school for business or computer science or medicine. If I had known these creative schools existed when I was younger I would have probably applied. My reason is because now only at 34 years old do I realize that I have a natural inclination to be interested in sound and that I’m part of a creative person. Yes it took me that long to figure it out! 

Even though as a kid, I would adjust the equalizer settings in anybody’s car I got into it until it sounded right. I’ve been recording and mixing my own songs and kids in my ‘hood since I was 13. But I didn’t even have the idea that people go to school for what I was already doing. I didn’t even know you could make a living from it. It is just something I naturally did. So my advice to you is if you naturally gravitate toward sound design than RUN to audio engineering school because that is where you will sharpen your skills. 

Having said that I know many audio engineers who did go to school for it and are terrible at mixing and mastering. Some of them are my friends so I won’t hate on them too much. But it honestly astonishes me how bad their mixes are, it makes me wonder what did they actually learn in school? 

Even recently, I got to produce a song for this local audio engineering school and the kids in the class would mix it (and none of them knew how to use Pro Tools…which boggled my mind) and as you can imagine the mix sounded horrible. So if you are considering going to audio school and have barely made any songs in any DAW, I would re-evaluate your choice, because it is clear you do not have a natural inclination for it. 

Basically, if you don’t know the shortcut keys in Pro Tools or Cubase or whatever DAW you use, BEFORE you apply to audio engineering school and drop that $20k than don’t go. That’s a good rule of thumb. You’re not going to get passionate about audio engineering when you’re in school for it, likely the opposite, so only go to school for the things you naturally do to get better. 

As always hope this makes sense. If you disagree, please let me know in the comments and explain why or else you’ll look like another internet troll. 



Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering, which he helped found in 2012. For the last 10 years, he has made it his mission to empower aspiring artists and musicians from around the world. You can see more of Andre's writings on our Blog.

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