A career in live sound used to mean apprenticing with a pro and learning the ropes through long, hard years paying your dues. That’s still true to some extent, but these days, whether you want to supplement your skills with short courses or fully immerse yourself in a four-year college curriculum, you’re guaranteed to find a program that’s perfect for you.
If you’re considering a live sound education, start with this small sampling of options ranging from free online classes to Bachelor Degree programs. Keep in mind that this is not an endorsement or a comprehensive list, and program quality, placement rates, facilities and gear, and hands-on experience will vary.
Berklee Online, the online division of Berklee College of Music, offers a range of in-depth, 12-week courses, which earn optional credits toward certificate and degree programs. The Live Sound Production Professional Certificate is a 9-credit program focusing on core live mixing, recording, and critical listening skills.
SydAudCon has been training audio pros for 45 years; its latest offerings include four two- to three-day in-person training events focusing on sound system design and six online courses covering the principles of audio concepts, sound system design and operation, and digital signal processing.
COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO
Columbia College has an extensive music program, including a minor in Live and Performing Arts Management. Specialized coursework focuses on booking, presenting, producing, and promoting live entertainment, supplemented by core business courses and real-world projects in practicum courses.
FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
Winter Park, Florida’s Full Sail University offers a Bachelor of Science in Show Production that includes coursework in sound and lighting, plus experience staging large-scale events at the school’s performance venues.
SHURE AUDIO INSTITUTE
The Shure Audio Institute offers in-person and web-based training and certification programs for integrators, consultants, engineers, musicians, and retailers. Coursework includes audio for videography, house-of-worship production, and RF certification.
SOUND DESIGN LIVE
Veteran live sound engineer Nate Lively is the mastermind behind the Sound Design Live website, which offers a podcast, online courses, and hundreds of articles about live sound. Course highlights include an Online Wireless Workshop and Sound System EQ course; Sound Design Live also produces a two-day online Live Sound Summit, which has featured instructors ranging from Robert Scovill to Buford Jones.
FULL SAIL UNIVERSITY
For those looking for broad entertainment technology programs, Full Sail University's online Bachelor of Science in Show Production complements audio mixing and measurement training with classes in lighting and automation technology.
WOMEN’S AUDIO MISSION
Women make up less than five percent of the audio industry; WAM aims to change the face of sound by exposing girls and young women to STEM and creative technology studies through a curriculum that weaves art and music with science, technology, and computer programming. Courses are available both online and offline, in both recording and live sound.
Audinate hosts both video tutorials and online courses, including Dante Certification Levels 1,2, and 3. Audinate also offers an array of courses approved for InfoComm RU credit; highlights include Introduction to IP Networks and The Principles of Digital Audio.
You might know Lynda for its tutorials on applications like PhotoShop and Pro Tools. But the online education hub also offers a range of audio-production courses including Live Sound Mic Considerations and Mixing Live Sound for Front of House.
POINT BLANK MUSIC SCHOOL
The Point Blank Music School has campuses in London, Los Angeles, China, Ibiza, and Mumbai, as well as extensive online music-production and business programs; the London location offers a three-month Live Sound Engineering course and a nine-month Music Production and Live Sound Engineering Diploma.
TRUTH IN AUDIO
The Truth In Audio school, founded by live sound industry veteran Bernie Broderick, aims to provide a broad-based, hands-on education in live sound techniques and industry trends while offering up-to-date-technology training in partnership with leading product manufacturers. Check TIA’s site regularly for upcoming programs and events.
MASTER MIX LIVE
The Master Mix Live school near Las Vegas offers a 20-week Live Audio Engineering program led by veteran live sound engineer Rick Camp. Courses are limited to eight students, taught on a range of gear, and include Venue Pro User certification.
THE BLACKBIRD ACADEMY
Founded by the legendary Blackbird studios in Nashville, the Blackbird Academy offers a Live Sound Engineering program developed in partnership with Clair Global. Like Blackbird’s studio engineering programs, live sound coursework is based on 100-percent hands-in, mentor-based learning.
Central Arizona’s Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences offers an 11-month Live-Sound program that includes hands-on production in its 6,000-square-foot stage and live sound venue.
Husson University’s New England School of Communications in Bangor, Maine, offers an Audio Engineering program with a concentration in Live Sound Production. Coursework includes hands-on experience at on and off campus concerts, television variety shows, and sporting events.
Sarah Jones is a writer, editor, and content producer with more than 20 years' experience in pro audio, including as editor-in-chief of three leading audio magazines: Mix, EQ, and Electronic Musician. She is a lifelong musician and committed to arts advocacy and learning, including acting as education chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, where she helps develop event programming that cultivates the careers of Bay Area music makers.