- I’m currently working for a branding agency whose core product is audio marketing (audio jingles, sound re-engineering for advertisements etc), I’m working in the capacity of a web developer, not a sound engineer, but have to interact with the sound guys on a daily basis since that is our core product.
There are 3 main types of jobs that I have seen the sound engineers do,
one is a frond end, hands on job where you sit with the client and create the track they want (this is more creative and less technical),
second is you work as an instructor and train other students who attend your institute to learn sound engineering (Radio Jockeys, Animated movie makers, Advertisers and so on).
third is a back end desk job where you sit and fine tune previously recorded audio tracks which are given to you, (this is more technical and less creative),
The first two involve public interaction, the third one lets you work alone in peace, so choose accordingly.
There is ‘a lot of ageism’ in every field, it is concealed under various indirect pretexts like ‘minimum 15 years experience required’, to insulate them from ageism lawsuits. Someone requiring that many years of experience is basically saying “I want someone who started out earlier in this field and has worked longer years”. Someone who started early and survived in the industry for that long also means that they are more likely to have had a 4 year degree when they joined. They will always prefer a 35 year old with 15 years experience over a 45 year old with 5 year experience. So the fact that you started out late and have less years of experience is going to affect you more than the age itself. Ageism will always be a problem, there is no way to sugarcoat it.
If you do a certification course in one particular tool, your ‘career’ will stagnate and be relegated to the status of just a ‘job’ using that tool. A certification gets you a job, a degree gets you a career. Sounds engineering is more than just one tool, it is a vast field with hardware (electronics, sound attenuation related chip designing, amplifier customization etc), audio forging software and creative aspects.
If I had to chart a new path, I’d go from making websites (applied computer science) to making algorithms (pure computer science), basically opt for fields like Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning. If you don’t want to do a 4 year bachelors in engineering, then do a 3 years correspondence degree course which requires you to submit assignment and appear for exams only on weekends, and pursue a certification in Big Data (Hadoop, Hbase). This field currently has the highest remuneration package in the tech sphere. 600k/annum in the big 5 and 250k/annum at a startup).
If you aren’t willing to commit 3 years, and want to do just certifications, I’d recommend graphics designer over sound mixer. It has a higher pay off for a similar amount of commitment, more number of jobs, wider skilled applications. You can get employed in a wide variety of fields from UX designer, app designer, wireframing, game character designing, animated cartoons, designing instructional manuals for learning materials, illustration designer, children’s books etc. Having a certificate in Illustrator/Coral Draw/ Photoshop can get you much more than having a certificate in sound engineering. Plus, you always have the option of selling 5$ logos on Fiverr.