With inflation raging for the first time since the early 1980s and the employment market looking stronger and stronger – many people are looking for jobs that both pay well and are lots of fun. The world of specialty audio-video has always been a good place to accomplish both goals and many are desperate to hire people right now.

Here’s a guide as to where to look and how to prepare for jobs all over the world of consumer electronics.

Good Paying Jobs At “The Stereo Store”

“Money For Nothing (chicks for free)” talked about wanting to be a rock-star while working at a stereo or appliance store but I am not sure being a rock and roller is all that much better than working in the stereo store. There are SO MANY ways to make a lot of money in the consumer electronics business.

Audio-Video Sales ($50,000 to $500,000+): Always be closing because commissions are for closers only. OK, I just merged two movie clichés in one sentence but you really do want to work on commission if you are in AV sales. It isn’t uncommon to get upwards of 20 percent of what you sell in the specialty AV business. It is also not uncommon to sell $100,000 per month worth of gear and labor (think: AV installs) which can pay a deep six-figure salary. Not bad.

AV Installer ($45,000 to $85,000+): The trade group CEDIA offers all sorts of training programs that help people learn real-world chops that get them paid big money even compared with going into IT. Like above, in sales – no college degree is needed but it always helps. Perhaps, getting a degree online is the smartest and most cost effective way to go. This job includes crawling in attics, pulling wires, building racks, configuring components, setting up speakers, heavy lifting and more. In most U.S. markets, this job pays $75,000 and up. Not bad.

Store Manager ($50,000 to $150,000+): The store manager role often gets given to the TOP salesperson which is a classic mistake. Management is a whole different skill than that of sales. 180 degree opposites, I would suggest. If you are good at supporting and motivating people – you can make a strong living as a manager. There are many challenges in that today’s younger and more “entitled” staff can be hard to get to rally in times of challenge and at the stereo store – there are ALWAYS times of challenge. Pay in a management role like this can be a very respectable base salary plus an over-ride on all of the salespeople sales below you. Often store managers also play the role of salesman too which can add “icing to the cake” on their compensation package.

Good Paying Jobs In The Custom Installation Market

The Installer role described above at the stereo store is just as relevant in the custom installation market too. In fact, one might argue that it is even MORE relevant and CI companies do much more “construction” work and IT level programming.

Smart Home Programmer ($75,000 to $200,000+): Smart home programmers be it: Crestron , Savant or Control4 are all hot platforms with Crestron being the most expensive and best paying options. CI companies and home theater seating firms simply can’t find enough people well trained on ONE, let alone more, of these smart home systems. People want to control their lights, HVAC, distributed audio, 4K video, security cameras and more. That sounds sexy when the salesman talks about it but YOU are the person that now has to make that work. CI firms in every part of the world are BEGGING to hire people with these skills. $75,000 to $100,000 is for a starting role. Independent contractors can make $200,000 plus programming Crestron.

IT & Network Expert ($75,000 to $150,000+): Everybody needs the Internet working with all of the work-from-home changes in the marketplace. Who makes the actual Internet work INSIDE one’s home? You do! And make sure that all of the internal networks work and that the equipment rack is built out nicely with VOIP access plus VPN “secure” remote access and more. A smart home can’t live without this person. Nor can a home theater and so on. Companies are paying signing bonuses to land people with experience in this space plus considerable salaries, health benefits and more. No college degree needed but this is a highly technical, computer oriented job. Training can be had through Google, online schools, organizations like CEDIA (often online) and through companies like Crestron, Lutron and others. Forget student load debt. Just show up with a good understanding of computers and networks and six to 12 months later – you can be an expert who gets paid like one.

Good Paying Jobs In Professional Audio

Third Engineer ($10 per hour or LESS): This job is the worst on the list by far. If you want to get into the world of recording – you have to start somewhere. You might have a $250,000 student loan debt structure but the OK Boomers that still, to this day, run the professional audio world don’t care. You will pick up cables and spool them perfectly. You will clean up the ping-pong table. You will get food for the artists and engineers and other staff. Basically, you are a low-paid bitch. You are a cleaning lady who COULD possibly mix a song but you will only get to do so if somebody calls in sick and people are desperate. Simply put: this level of abuse is what it takes to get a start in the world of professional audio.

Mixing Engineer ($100,000 to $1,000,000+ per year): Most studios don’t have mixing engineers on staff. Some do and they can be very good but most are independent contractors. With that said, they can negotiate directly with the record label for excellent pay. Keep in mind, if you want a professionally crafted product that a label can sell – you need a top-level engineer.

Record Producer ($250,000 to ???): A record producer is NOT what you see if rap “music” videos where some homie brings one of his entourage in to talk smack and tell the artist that he’s great. Think more of Sir George Martin’s    work with The Beatles in how he taught them to tune their instruments and brought classical influences to their music. Think more of how Quincy Jones helped conduct Frank Sinatra Live at The Sands or helped blend new influences into Michael Jackson’s Thriller like finding a way to make UBER-studio-musician Steve Lukather’s guitar (Toto and countless studio records) with that of the “one-take” genius solo on “Beat It” by Eddie Van Halen at the PEAK of his creative genius in the early 1980s. Where the big money comes for record producers is “points” on the record. If the record blows up – the producer gets paid as if he’s IN the band thus the ??? for how much you can make here.

Studio Musician ($300 to $900 per hour): This is the rate that truly top level studio musicians make because the reality is: most bands can’t play their instruments all that well. Studio musicians are the exact opposite. The producer says “play it THIS WAY” and they can (and do) on the first or second take. This yields better results and takes less time in the $1,000 per hour studio. The labels pay and rightfully so. Much like most engineers and producers – this is an independent contractor job but it can pay fantastically well.

We hope this insider’s guide to the world of making money in the electronics and pro audio world helps guide your career.