You can get a Pro Tools certification any way you would like because regardless of where it’s from, they all hold the same weight. But if all certifications are created equal, all Experts are not.
Whether you’re a seasoned audio engineer or a hobbyist, Pro Tools certification allows you to stand out from the rest, and like the Master’s degree in audio engineering, it will make you more money. There are 3 types of PT certifications you can get, and each corresponds to a career path, user level, and hireability. Of those 3 types, User, Operator and Expert, a User certification is more than enough to open some door.
Best Pro Tools Certification Schools
Full Sail: The full Pro Tools Certification Package
As previously mentioned in my article Finding Full Sail, I got Pro Tools certifications in my first year at Full Sail, and though I went to Full Sail for an entire 2-year course set, certain courses can be parsed off, and the same rules still apply. With its “once you’re here, you’re family” approach, Full Sail is ideal for anyone who may see engineering as a secondary career, or loves a good refresher and always wants to be up on the latest certification without costing you an arm and a leg.
Your instructors at Full Sail for your Pro Tools certification can range anywhere from Grammy-winners to people who worked on the albums you grew up listening to and know Pro Tools like no one you have ever met before. With multiple buildings fully-equipped with sets of mixing, mastering, audio-post, live sound stages and recording studios Full Sail has the most versatile learning environment for every type of Pro Tools certification.
- Access: Full Sail offers the best in the world of entertainment technology. Whether you want to work in a post-house, on live television, in a concert hall or just mix from the comfort of your home, every one of these possibilities fully realized at Full Sail with the world’s latest tools and greatest legacies.
- The Faculty: You will never meet a person who knows more about Full Sail than walking into the Mix Palace or speaking to the Sessions teachers. Their knowledge is invaluable and spans pretty much any situation you could ever run into.
- The Environment: Full Sail is full of young hopefuls, and people who have waited their entire lives to realize their dreams, there’s something infectious to learning in that environment.
- Every Certification: Because of the access provided by Full Sail’s campus, it is one of the only schools on the list that you can receive every Pro Tool Certification available with an expert professional from the very field you may be trying to enter.
- Free Updates: Full Sail is pricey, but that price pays for forever, which means you can get recertified anytime you need to for a nominal administrative fee.
- It’s Orlando, Florida: Yes, Florida is as fun as it looks in pictures, but Florida is also as sketchy as the insane news stories that surface each year. Have you ever had the urge to throw an alligator through a drive-through window? Me either.
- Long Nights, Early Mornings: Full Sail is a 24-hour school, and I mean that in the literal sense. I loved it, but if you love sleep, you’re going to learn to love coffee more.
- It’s Pricey: Sure you can parse off the courses you need for a Pro Tools Certification, and it will probably be on par with some of its other competitors, but those numbers will add up, and unless you’re sitting on a lump sum of cash, you may need to because you probably won’t be able to work while at Full Sail.
Berklee Online: Pro Tools 101 & 110 Certifications
The premier school for musicians that want to work in the music industry, Berklee is a name that most music schools wish they could match. Their students are elite, and their musical prowess is infectious. Even though Berklee is not thought of as a music technology school, Berklee is the technical music school with a heavy emphasis on the arts in entertainment, so it comes as no surprise that Berklee officers Pro Tools certifications and they are as fully capable as any of their competitors, with a staff to match.
What sets Berklee apart from its competitors other than its name and status is that Berklee is the first school to offer a different sort of Pro Tools certification backed by Avid on its Berklee Online platform. Berklee’s Pro Tools certification includes cornerstone fundamentals like Pro Tools 101 and 110, but it mainly focuses mixing and mastering from novice to expert level techniques. At 12 weeks a course, with 4 total courses for Berklee Online’s Pro Tool’s certification, you should be sure that you’re ready for online learning.
- It’s Online: You can do it on schedule. As opposed to the breakneck pace of Full Sail, Berklee Online treats each course as a 12-week intensive that generally not all that intense with a workload of no more than 10 hours a week.
- It’s Accredited: You can use the credits to transfer back to Berklee School of Music, or other accredited music schools if you would actually like to attend a semester while actually wearing pants.
- You’re not in Boston: Boston is a fun city, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to live there.
- Time Consuming: This course is 48 weeks, with a nearly 6k price tag, though in the grand scheme of things that number may be nominal and it can be paid over time, you will never get back that year, and in that year, the certification that you receive could be for an older version of Pro Tools.
- It’s Online: While learning Pro Tools can be done within the comfort of your home, without the hands-on experience of being able to work with certain control surfaces and environments in a “lab” learning environment makes you completely reliant on the access that you already have.
- Missing Certifications: The certification course only goes through PT 101 and PT 110. Meaning, there is no real chance of moving into Operator or Expert certifications within the same school.
- Isolation: Working in the music industry is about making connections, so unless this is something that you plan on doing already years into your career, you need to have a strong network if you’re willing to do something like this without a tangible community of like-minded (and stressed out) individuals.
SAE: Pro Tools Certifications Around the World
As the sleeping giant of the group, SAE has been around for a long time, with little to no fanfare. Its focus is audio engineering, it’s literally in the school’s name as the School of Audio Engineering.If you happen to be in one of the multiple major cities the ITT of entertainment trade school has hubs in, you’ve probably seen the signs, but more than likely, you’ve never darkened the doorway of one of their schools.
What is offered from campus to campus differs, but getting a Pro Tools certification is something that seems absolutely plausible from anyone of their 50 plus global facilities in over 26 countries.
- Learn Where You Want: There is no other institution with the sheer-size that SAE holds in spread alone.
- Know Your Classmates: Each school generally has no less than 2 studios and 10 workstations, which means classes are more intimate and more one-on-one time with instructors.
- Learn Where* You Want: Because SAE basically works as a chain of schools, especially after becoming a public company, not every campus offers the same certificate programs, which may mean that you could be on a waiting list for the school of your choice int the case it’s booked up.
- Limited Technologies: Due to SAE spreading out its campuses, not ever campus is created equally, so if there are specific pieces of gear you want access to, you should really read up on campuses’ facilities and then choose the most appropriate location.
- Notable Alumni: It’s not that SAE has no notable alumni, it’s that SAE doesn’t seem to create “stars” of the industry, even some of the smaller schools have an array of Grammy-winning artists, producers and mixing engineers that have been on the tips of the tongues of the industry and student hopefuls for years.
LA Film School’s LA Recording School: Pro Tools Certifications in LA
Full Sail’s not-so-well-known sister school, LA Film School partnered with the Orlando giant in order to diversify its educational offerings. The partnership which began in 2003, moved LA Film School into the world of audio engineering in 2004 with Full Sail helping the West Coast institution with staffing, operations, and even building studios.
Though, not nearly the behemoth that Full Sail has become, LA Recording School offers the same quality of environment with an array of professional instructors to match, especially with the faculty being able to choose if they would rather be posted in LA rather than Orlando. So if you prefer to be in the current entertainment capital of the county and maybe run into a movie star LA Recording School is a great west coast alternative to Full Sail with the tools to match.
- It’s LA: In America, LA is probably the second most-employment heavy place for audio engineers behind Nashville and on-par with New York. Aside from the employment opportunities, LA is beautiful and basically seasonless with the exception of its endless summer.
- The Power of Full Sail without the Price Tag: A similar program to Full Sails original Recording Arts associate program, LA Recording School’s Recording Arts program has the former’s price tag, nearly a decade later. Though course parsing is still unknown, the access that LA Film School’s Recording School allows is nearly on par with its sister school.
- It’s Accredited: This is simply always going to be a bonus in the case you want to take your music centered career in a different direction.
- It’s LA: For everything good that can be said of LA, it takes a certain type of person to live there, because, in a city where everyone is chasing a dream, you have a lot of competitions which means traffic.
- Full Sail-lite: Like the early days of Full Sail, LA Recording School’s Recording Art’s offerings are still in their infancy stages, and that “once you’re here, you’re family” mentality doesn’t apply with being able to come back to the school in the future to re-up your knowledge for free. That being said, they’re studios are not lacking.
Institute of Audio Recording: Pro Tools Certifications in NYC’s
If the West Coast isn’t your thing, and if you’re nonplussed by the sight of palm trees, and you want to get a straight forward Pro Tools certification from a knowledgeable instructor that isn’t just in it for the money, look-no-further than New York’s own Institute of Audio Recording. As one of the most musical cities on earth, New York is a place where people who work hard reach the top of the entertainment food chain, in a city full of talent inspiration is never lacking.
Though the most likely the least known of the schools on the list IAR has created some future legends. Names like Benny Blanco (Britney Spears, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Rihanna) and founding member of Coheed and Cambria, Claudio Sanchez. Aside from being the only school other than Berklee Online that has a Pro Tools certification as the culmination of a program that you don’t need to extract from a degree program, IAR gives you all the hands-on experience that you lose with Berklee in an environment that was made for this very purpose.
- Small Classes: Classes have no more than 30 students in lectures, and no more than 20 in labs, though the suggest that this is really an outlier and that class size hinges on the smaller sizes.
- Location: IAR is located in NYC’s iconic Greenwich Village, right around the corner from the equally iconic Electric Lady Studios and around the corner from the best of the park that tourists get lost getting to / forget about.
- Tutoring & Advisors: IAR acts like many graduate schools in the fact that you cannot only get real tutoring from an insular system but you can also be taken on by an instructor for academic advisement.
- The Cost of Really Living in New York: Though there are 5 boroughs of New York, there are really only 4 that you will choose from, and if you really want to live in Jersey City, no one will fault you (we will). New York is expensive and that can be a hard pill to swallow and make moving to Orlando to get certified a little more palatable.
- Time: The Course that includes Pro Tools Certification is 900 Hours. 37.5 straight days, which means realis