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? How do you sift through the tons of information out there that seems to all point in different directions?

The audio engineering landscape is a highly competitive and exciting place. The music industry is a tantalizing place to make a name for yourself, and therefore there are countless people all vying for entrance into the numerous prestigious schools that all have award-winning audio engineer and music schools.

Let’s reframe our thinking just slightly. The real question here is not which audio engineering school has the best reviews and ratings, but rather whether the school actually helps you get where you want to go. Which school actually helps you get a job the best?

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 “education” ultimately just amounts to what skills you have, and you can teach yourself as many of those skills as you need on your own.

The whole point of going to an established institution is to make yourself more hirable. The best audio engineering schools are the schools that can actually help you accomplish the goal of getting a job. Education is important, but education alone won’t get you a career in the music industry.

Audio Engineering Education Essentials

  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. You need to learn on state-of-the-art software. Learning on programs that are five years old and not industry standard doesn’t do anyone any good.
  3. You need to be in a place where you’re learning the way the industry works, not just the theory of music.
  4. You need to be in a fast-paced environment. The music industry is deadline driven, and it moves fast. Being babied and coddled does you a disservice.
  5. You need to be learning about your specific niche, as well as overall skills. You need to be in a place where you’re learning how the very intricate and specific end of the industry that you’re looking to work in functions. Because the hip hop world and the EDM world and the Punk world are all very different.
  6. You need to be learning your craft in a marketable way.
  7. You need to be collaborating with people. Making work is great, but if you’re not learning how to work with OTHER people, that’s not going to get you where you need to go.
  8. You need to be in a place where you’re getting advice on how to manage a career. It’s not always going to be lucrative gigs and constantly working, there are going to be periods where you’re going to need to take time to reinvent yourself, because you’ve run out of contacts or career traction. That might sound harsh, but it’s true. It’s just the way it is.
  9. 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.)
  10. 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.

Consider an Alternative Audio Engineering Education

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 help 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.

Get your music production certification and build your music production and audio engineering skills by learning with an industry professional near you.