Sound Operator or Technician: Radio, Television and Film

Sound technicians, or radio, television and film sound operators, record the sound tracks onto tape or film for radio and/or television productions. They may also be involved with the broadcasting of these sound tracks.

Sound technicians operate technical equipment to amplify, enhance, record, mix or reproduce sound in support of performing arts, and may also assemble and maintain sound equipment. They use control desks, microphones, tape machines and turntables to achieve optimum sound quality.

Sound work entails an interesting mix of elements to create a realistic sound track. When recording voices, they may liaise with performers and instruct them on microphone use. They often also have to create background sound and special effects. Over time, sound technicians pick up various tricks for producing everyday sounds so that they sound realistic when broadcast.

Sound technicians work very closely with the producers on sound mixing to achieve the delicate balance of voices, sound effects and background music so that the right setting and mood is created.

Film sound operators are sometimes called upon to dub films from one language to another. This is a difficult task because lip movements, sound effects and acoustics have to be matched as closely as possible to the original.

Important tasks are to prepare for recording sessions by performing activities such as selecting and setting up microphones, regulating volume level and sound quality during recording sessions, using control consoles, and converting video and audio recordings into digital formats for editing or archiving.  They mix and edit voices, music and taped sound effects for live performances and for prerecorded events, using sound mixing boards. 

Sound technicians may work in radio, television and recording studios, theatres and other venues where live performances are staged and in wholesale and retail businesses trading in sound reproduction, recording and public address equipment. In some cases, they may specialise in operating or maintaining sound equipment.

Sound technicians may be required to work in shifts involving long hours in the evenings and over weekends. Broadcasting of outside sports events poses special problems for radio and television sound operators. They often work under difficult conditions, such as outdoor concerts, in variable weather.


  • television

  • radio stations

  • film companies

  • sound recording studios

  • self-employment; with enough experience, can do work on a freelance or contract basis

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a sound recording or film production company

  • speak to a sound technician about this career


Africa Digital Media Institute, Boland TVET College, Boston City Campus & Business College, Buffalo City TVET College, Capricorn TVET College, Central Johannesburg TVET College, City Varsity, Coastal KZN TVET College, College of Cape Town , Damelin, Eastcape Midlands TVET College, Ehlanzeni TVET College, Ekurhuleni East TVET College, Ekurhuleni West TVET College, Esayidi TVET College, False Bay College, Flavius Mareka TVET College, Gert Sibande TVET College, Goldfields TVET College, Ingwe TVET College, King Hintsa TVET College, King Sabata TVET College, Letaba TVET College, Lovedale Public TVET College, Majuba TVET College, Maluti TVET College, Mnambithi TVET College, Mopani South East TVET College, Motheo TVET College, Nile Source Polytechnic of Applied Art, Nkangala TVET College, Northern Cape Urban TVET College, Northlink College, Orbit TVET College, Port Elizabeth TVET College, Sedibeng TVET College, Sekhukhune TVET College, South African School of Motion Picture, South Cape TVET College, South West Gauteng TVET College, Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography, The Open Window School of Visual Communication, Tshwane North TVET College, Tshwane South TVET College, Umfolozi TVET College, Umgungundlovu TVET College, Vuselela TVET College, Waterberg TVET College, Western TVET College

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