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.

Personal Requirements

  • high level of technical skill
  • creative
  • excellent hearing and good ear for detail in all areas of sound
  • patience and perseverance
  • aptitude for working with computers
  • ability to work under pressure
  • decision-making ability
  • good communication skills
  • good problem-solving skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Diploma: N.Dip: Entertainment Technology - DUT, TUT, Sound Engineering / Technology - City Varsity, Damelin, Intec, ICESA

Some employers offer a 6-week basic training course. Ongoing in-service training is also given.


  • television
  • radio stations
  • film companies
  • sound recording studios
  • self-employment; with enough experience, can do work on a freelance or contract basis

Further Information

Any of the above-mentioned universities of technology or potential employers

National Television and Video Association of South Africa (NTVA)
P O Box 16140
Vlaeberg, 8018
Tel: (021) 424-7575

Head, Personnel Services, SABC

M-Net Recruitment Department

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

Programmes by Study Institutions

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