Live Sound Engineer

Job Description:

Live sound engineers control the sound at events like theatre performances, music concerts and festivals.

Job Category:
Tourism, Hospitality & Entertainment

What you will do:

You’ll mix the inputs from microphones and amplifiers, using a control desk to balance the sound levels.

You might also provide background music and sound effects.

Your duties might also include:

  • discussing the production’s sound needs with the director or sound designer
  • identifying places in the script where any sound effects, music and changes in sound level are needed
  • pre-recording any sound effects and music
  • positioning and rigging up microphones
  • completing sound checks before a performance
  • operating the sound desk during shows
  • following a sound plan (known as a ‘plot’) and cues from the deputy stage manager
  • looking after and repairing equipment
  • unloading, setting up, dismantling and loading equipment at each venue when on tour

You may also set up and operate lighting equipment as part of a sound and lighting crew.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • knowledge of media production and communication
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • persistence and determination (drive)
  • customer service skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Live Sound Engineer, you don’t typically need specific subjects, but having a strong educational background and relevant skills can be advantageous. Live Sound Engineers are responsible for setting up and operating audio equipment in various live performance settings, such as concerts, events, and theatres. Here are some subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Physics: A basic understanding of physics concepts can be valuable for understanding the principles of sound, acoustics, and the behaviour of audio waves.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are essential for calculating audio levels, signal routing, and working with audio equipment, including mixers, amplifiers, and speakers.
  3. Design and Technology: Courses in design and technology can provide you with practical skills related to building, wiring, and operating audio equipment.
  4. Music: While not a requirement, a passion for music and courses in music can be beneficial for developing your ear and understanding musical concepts, which are important for live sound engineering.
  5. Electronics: Understanding electronic circuits and components is important, as audio equipment often involves electrical systems.
  6. Computer Science: Some live sound engineering involves digital audio technology and software, so familiarity with computers and software tools can be useful.
  7. English: Good communication skills are crucial for working effectively in a team, as Live Sound Engineers often collaborate with musicians, producers, and other crew members.

Post School

You’ll need a good knowledge of music and sound technology, and you may find it useful to have an understanding of physics and electronics.

You could do:

  • a course in technical theatre, music technology or sound engineering
  • a degree or diploma in technical theatre (in the UK this would be best accredited by Drama UK)

It might be useful if you have paid or unpaid work experience, like:

  • helping backstage in a theatre
  • being a roadie for a band
  • rigging sound in amateur or student theatre, or for local bands
  • recording or mixing music, for example as a DJ
  • working for a sound equipment manufacturer or hire company

You could also get into this job through a sound recording, engineering and studio facilities apprenticeship.

Working Hours and Environment:

Hours can be long and irregular. Evening and weekend work is common.

You may also work during the day for rehearsals, sound checks and maintenance.

You’ll work in theatres, concert halls, arenas, and outdoors at concerts and festivals.

You’ll spend a lot of time sitting at a control desk.

You’ll travel throughout the country and possibly overseas.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress to chief sound engineer in a theatre, become a sound designer, or set up your own sound services company.