Education in the US - Foreign doubts about SAE

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by kampfgolem, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. kampfgolem

    kampfgolem Guest

    Hello everyone. First off, sorry for the lengthy post. Also please excuse me if this is the wrong place for a post like this, but I couldn't find an alternative.

    I'm 25 and live in Peru. Recently I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Audio Engineering. I have a degree in media arts (or whatever it's called - it changes name from place to place, even in the states) and also studied music.

    I'd like to focus on recording, initially as an employee and eventually in a place of my own, but since I'm kind of a Jack of all trades, I'd also like to work on my own music. I've done some work in live situations on both sides of the stage as well, so that interests me as well.

    This is why being in a place where music, recording and arts in general thrive is so important to me. I'm aware of reality and the fact that I have to make a living out of it somehow, even if it takes an insane amount of work.

    So I eventually thought of NY and came to a crossroads. More like a turnpike actually. Or something equally intimidating. Whatever.

    I wanted to attend SAE NY, but browsing the forums and from hearsay it appears it's lost some of its relevance and decreased in education quality. I've heard of inadequate teachers and of poor curriculum, which makes me rethink my choice, as paying for a tuition of that sort, being from Peru and all, is a big deal.

    So my question is, would the education quality in SAE NY live up to the hype? Would I be better off someplace else... maybe a different city? Finally, would the curriculum touch at some point the subject of live audio or am I left alone to explore such themes on my own?

    The amount of information I can get being so far away is kinda limited to forums, since I don't know anybody in the world of audio engineering that could give me any advice about the US.

    Thanks a lot for the insights you may provide, and also a big thanks for reading thus far.

    BTW - I'm aware of Full Sail's well-planned program, but it's just too expensive for me.
  2. Greener

    Greener Guest

    That is such a heavy question with so many variables and a huge chance to go wrong. It's an important question.

    As with any school you only get out of it what you put in.
    I would imagine going from Peru to New York would be something else again. And it would put you smack bang in the middle of everything. An awesome place to start if you can go the hard yards. Also, potential for failure and bright shiny distractions.

    I don't live in the States nor am I an audio engineer. However I wish you the best of luck and hopefully the discussion in these forums can help you get where you want to go.

    For some more information, if you search these forums looking for "sae" "full sail" and "school" you can find a multitude of threads where people have discussed similar things. A lot of philosophical waffle that may help.

    Welcome to RO ;)
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    So, is your desire to emigrate & work in the United States? Or would you prefer to work in Peru?

    I believe your current degree should qualify you to enter Peru's television/radio broadcast networks? I mean you have to start somewhere? And most folks need to work their way up, in any work environment.

    Recording schools are only going to teach you how to twittle knobs on SSL consoles & play with ProTools.

    What you have now, in education, should get you in the door. Are you going to get to do what you want to do right away? Of course not. That's not realistic. You need experience. You need to learn how to make coffee. How to put microphones away. How to coil cables. Etc. etc..

    The music business & the record industry, isn't what it used to be. Obtaining employment at large recording studios may be a thing of the past. It may be considerably different in your country however? But I Recording school in United States doesn't necessarily guarantee a job in a studio other than United States. Unfortunately, not many here are hiring. In fact, not many here are here anymore. I actually believe these schools are producing more engineers WILL NOT have a future in the industry. These schools largely came about because the studios that started them were going out of business! They get to stay in business because they charge folks like you $10,000 to $40,000 from each student, so they still have paychecks.

    Like the other person said, you get out of it would you put into it. Which has nothing to do with making a living in the industry. But depends on who you know, how much money you got, how many clients you have, if you're lucky, how much money you got, if you have any contract, how much money you got. And also how much money you got. Now if you had $40,000 for school? I'd recommend using the money to simply build your own studio in Peru. Books are cheap. Talk is cheap. Priceless. For everything else, there's Master Tape.

    Whatever you do. Follow your dreams.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. kampfgolem

    kampfgolem Guest

    Thank you for the quick replies :)

    Yes, I'm aware it's only about how much work I put in it. I'm 100% willing to put the backbreaking work in. Reading forums like this has made me realize that it's gonna be that way regardless of luck. Hard work non stop. From which at the very least I'd expect to obtain experience and knowledge.

    I know going to recording school won't guarantee me entry to the industry. The reason I decided to get into this career was because I got disenchanted with Media, at least here in Peru. You see, down here it's basically limited to TV (crappy TV at that) and Radio, and honestly that doesn't interest me at all.

    On the other hand, to pursue audio engineering here is the biggest example of 'if you dream about it, just do it'. There's absolutely no music industry whatsoever. Everyone involved in the business has to be a jack of all trades (it's basically the main trend in Peru, but moreso in the music business), so if you start a studio it's only to record the very few people who are into it because of the same reasons you are, so it's a matter of investing big money to not get anything significant back. That's why I'd like to wet my feet abroad.

    I do have some experience, but it's mostly from practice, reading and talking with people. I did take some audio courses though, and I feel they helped me immensely.

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions, I'll have to look into it more carefully.

    Does anyone have any insights on NY or SAE NY specifically?
  5. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    Another New York possibility is Institute of Audio Research. It started out as an AES workshop, then became accredited as a school. I attended there in the '80's, so can't speak to what it's like now. There are a couple of good 4 year programs here in Nashville. One is Belmont University, the other is Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Lots cheaper to live here than in New York, and probably more work opportunities too.
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    When I graduated from college back in the '60's there were no schools in the US that taught audio engineering. My degree is in RTV but I have worked almost exclusively in pro audio for my whole professional life. Today my company is moving more and more to video production since audio mastering is going the same way that recording studios went a couple of years ago. People are either choosing to do it themselves or not doing it at all and just releasing their material without getting it mastered. My degree was NOT the most important thing I got from my college. They taught me how to find information and how to study correctly. Both of these life skills have been very valuable to my career.

    As Remy Rad said audio engineering today is NOT the same as it was a couple of years ago and the day of the big studio is slowly drawing to a close. The basement or bedroom studios are the place where most of the recording is being done today and there are very few full time large recording studios left. Around my geographical area there are two studios and both of them are slowing dying. One studio is very well equipped and the engineer is exceptional at recording acoustical music. The other studio is owned by a good friend and he does arranging, recording, mixing and song writing and right now is doing more graphics work than audio.

    Schools that teach only audio engineering were started by people who saw a need for it and also saw a way to get a better pay check and more steady work than they could get by being audio engineers. I know of three people who graduated from Full Sail. One is selling cell phones, one is living at home with his parents and looking for work and one is working for GC as a salesman. None of them could find work in recording studios. The one guy that is selling cell phones graduated first in his class and is a genius at doing mixing but he is making much more money selling cell phones than he could have made being a "staff" audio engineer in a recording studio. His passion is audio but the reality of what he could make doing recording work in this area versus what he needs to survive forced him to abandon his love of audio and move into sales work.

    I applaud anyone who wants to follow their dreams and hope that the original poster can achieve what he wants to achieve.

    The reality of the situation is that the whole music industry is changing. I read on another web board that the music industry as we knew it will be completely dead in 10 years and that a whole new model will be in place and that it will be Internet based. It will be based on the idea that people will be doing more and more to make and sell their own music and they will be selling it to directly to the people who want to listen to it. The day of the middle man/record company will be gone forever and so too will a lot of people that now work for large record companies and people who supply those record companies and that includes a lot of the larger recording studios and mastering operations. Whether or not this becomes reality will depend on lots of external factors and only time will tell.

    Best of luck to anyone who wants to get into the recording field full time but you have to have your eyes wide open and know in your heart that it is NOT going to be an easy road. Had you asked this question 10 or 15 years ago I would have given you a completely different answer.
  7. kampfgolem

    kampfgolem Guest

    I'll have to look into it, thanks for the suggestion :)

    Someone else also suggested Nashville. AFAIK wasn't Nashville mostly a Country/Gospel/Christian mecca? I'd honestly prefer to stay away from it and would rather go to a place where I can at the very least play in a band that suits my musical tastes (rock/prog/metal/jazz/fusion).

    Also, I've been suggested that I look into University programs. What do you people think of that? I already went through a 5 year media program in an university and a 2 1/2 year music program. Both of them did touch the bases of audio, but leaving some holes in between.

    Would there be, in the vast options the US offers, a place that's "perfect" for me? :p A place where the music I mentioned has a thriving community and where I could find a proper place to study? I thought it was NY, but maybe I was misleaded.

    Thanks for your support! :)
  8. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Cocoa, FL
    Home Page:
    Up until recently, Nashville was a rock mecca...

    Tom said:
    Four - me.
    I did, and I did what I had to do to make it.
    Live sound has been very good to me...

    Good luck!
  9. VonRocK

    VonRocK Active Member

    Sep 3, 2006
    Calgary, Alberta Canada
    I'm not qualified in this department, however after reading your posts, I'd like to make a suggestion.

    After 7 and a half years of post secondary education, you should probably just go out and get a job. Instead of sinking how much? into more education, maybe just go out and get a job DOING. It is apparent from reading about many people's experience with education in this field, it is simply an "in" to where they are now, not a piece of paper that grants them a lucrative and successful career.

    You already have an education. Put it to use. None of the sound reinforcement technicians or studio engineers that I've personally met spent money on a formal education to do what they are doing. They had talent, dedication, and somebody (or a full time job somewhere else) to help them pay the bills when they couldn't. Some people would call it a real world education. I'd say you don't want to be pushing 30 without any of that good stuff.

    Also, when I read between your lines, it seems that you would rather move to the States and start playing in a band. The going to school thing is just a way to justify doing that.

    Please don't take this post the wrong way. I mean well, and hope that you follow your passion.
  10. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    There are people who like to be professional students. There was a gentlemen here at Oberlin College that was a student here for 10 + years. His Father passed away and his will said that his son would be paid the sum of $40,000 per year for every year he was in college. I guess his Dad thought four or six years but this person took advantage of the situation and stayed an undergrad for 10 years before moving on to getting his master's degree and probably his doctoral degree.

    There are lots of other people that take years to get their undergrad and graduate degrees because they don't like to face the "real" world and feel comfortable in an academic setting.

    I am not saying that the original poster is one of those people but I too think it is time for him to get out and get a "real" world job. It seems to me that with all the music coming out of South America one could find a very good job there. If nothing else start a studio and start your own career. Moving to the US of A is a great goal but moving here and then going to college all over again seems to me counter productive but I don't know your background or anything about your financials.

    FWIW and YMMV
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