Choosing Among the Best Audio Engineering Schools-A Guide

No doubt about it—there is a lot of confusing information about there when it comes to audio engineering schools. Not only are there plenty of differing reviews and opinions, but obviously each school claims to be the best one! How do you make sense of it all and make an informed decision?

The real question here is not which audio engineering school has the best reviews and ratings (although that certainly matters), but rather whether the school you’re looking at will actually help you get where you want to go. You need to remember that your goal here is not just to get a good education, or even a degree—it’s ultimately to get a good job in the music industry, to launch a career as a music producer or audio engineer. The best audio engineering schools, then, are the schools that can actually help you accomplish that goal.

Education is important, but education alone won’t get you a career in the music industry.  Actually you need three essential things in order to have an industry career:

  1. A good, practical, hands-on education. You need to learn the skills of recording and mixing, preferably from someone who has been doing these things for a while.
  2. A good amount of real-world experience. People in this industry actually don’t care about where you went to school. They want to know what experience you have in the studio. A good audio engineering school will provide opportunities to get this experience. (On-campus studios don’t count—they are controlled environments that can’t duplicate the dynamics of a working recording studio.)
  3. Lots of industry connections.  No matter how educated or talented you are, you won’t get a job in this industry without connections. You need regular, direct contact with people who work in the music industry—people who know you and will recommend you for work.

Simply put, the best audio engineering schools are not just the schools who do a good job teaching you the technical skills, but schools that can help you attain all three of these elements. Most schools do okay with the first one (education), but fall short with the other two. It is for that reason exactly that many music industry professionals actually think audio engineering schools are a waste of time! It is also why alternative learning methods like the mentor-extern approach are so popular within the industry itself.

Schools that practice this approach have caught on that the best place to learn audio engineering is in a real studio, not a classroom. They place their students as externs in actual recording studios, where they receive one-on-one training from seasoned industry professionals. This approach has helped many students effectively land jobs in the recording industry because it covers all three of the bases mentioned above, for far less money than most schools charge in tuition.

Whether you choose the mentor-extern approach, or whether you prefer a more traditional type of training, it’s important to remember that the best audio engineering schools will look past the education alone to helping you actually connect to the music industry. Look for a school that provides all three of the essentials for music industry success: education, experience and connections.

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