What qualifications do you need? I received a diploma in music recording and theatre sound at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in 1991. Academic qualifications provide a good foundation for musical and technical training, but it is not a must. Above all, you have to be very passionate about sound. What sort of person does the job suit? You must have good ears to distinguish and adjust the tones of different songs in an album. The aim is to create a smooth transition between tracks for better flow. Good communication skills are also important because you need to liaise and present your ideas to producers and sometimes the singers. What's the best way into the industry? A mastering engineer will usually start as a trainee in a recording studio. In time, you will help record vocals and later, string sections. At the same time, you need to show the producers that you have the potential to handle mixing and mastering. Good networking helps a lot. Sometimes, schoolmates and colleagues will introduce new clients to you. What work hours do you keep? My hours are very unstable. Typically, I have seven to eight album projects every month. On average, each project requires 20 non-stop work hours. That means I have to finish a project within a day. Is there a clear career path? A CD-mastering engineer can develop a career in various fields such as film, TV, radio broadcasting and theatre. The basic principles are the same. What is the best part of your job? The job satisfaction from perfecting the sound on an album before it goes on the market. Every step involves the art of decision-making. What is the worst? My social life is affected by the unstable work hours. But I don't see it as a drawback because I am able to make some new friends in the industry too. Salary? Our establishment, Air Studio, charges about $10,000 to $12,000 for each project. But part of the money will go to my partners who share the studio. Last word? If you really want to enter this industry, my advice is to start as early as possible to gain experience.