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Is A Pro Tools Certification Worth The Money?

I have been a producer / songwriter / studio owner for many years and I have worked with the best of the best engineers in the business.  We just started a new Pro Tools and Recording School at our Thirteen Degrees Studio and although I am not one of the Pro Tools instructors, I thought I would bolster my skills by getting certified.  So I asked a couple of our engineer-instructors if it was worth travelling to Atlanta, our closest certification center, to take the course.  I also asked them something I would have never thought to ask in the many, many years of working with them... "Do you have a Pro Tools Certification?"  They just said, "Of course not." 

Now bear in mind, these are Grammy Winning engineers.  It seems that at one point a few years ago Pro Tools Certifications were very popular for engineers wishing to increase their value in the marketplace. As the marketplace has gotten even tighter over the years, certifications mean very little.  The only criteria that matters is in the final mix.  How does the music sound?  In the words of Beatles' producer George Martin, "All You Need Is Ears".  All of the technical skills of running a Pro Tools system can be learned through a combination of short courses, hours of practice, and looking over the shoulder of people who have a proven track record in the real world of studio recording.  Knowing every hot key shortcut in the world will do little for you if you can't hear why the engineer is rolling off a track at 1khz or double compressing a vocal to make it jump off the record.  The most important lesson you can learn as an aspiring engineer, or musician, is to train your ears and your soul.  If you can't feel the music then you certainly can't get the results you want by dialing in numbers.  It is much easier to know what you want to hear first and to then learn the mechanics of how to achieve that result.

One more word of advice from someone who has worked with a bucket full of top engineers.  Karma is a "bitch".  Even the hottest engineers in the world cool off or fall prey to the shrinking market.  Given my choice between 2 equally qualified engineers, one with the personality of an over ripe avacado and one who is an absolute pleasure to work with, guess which one I choose to work with and which one I'd like to make guacamole with?  'nuff said!

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