Here is a tutorial outlining some tips and advice for those who want to be engineers and/or working in the recording studio in some capacity. While there is no right way to go about it, here are some tidbits about what I've learned over the years...
So you want to be an engineer? Everyone knows that these days it has become as hard as ever to make it as an engineer and to work in the music industry in general. There are less professional studios around, hence there are less engineers. If you are already committed to doing this, you should know that it will not be easy in the least! I'm always striving to be the best I can possibly be at what I do, which means putting in hours upon hours most days. Making it as easy as possible for you to practice and get good at engineering is the name of the game as far as I'm concerned, so these next few sections will focus on some of the best ways to do so...
If you take away nothing else from this tutorial, the best advice that I can offer to an aspiring engineer would be to build your skills on your own time! This means getting your own home studio to work out of - no matter how small. I would recommend getting a Pro Tools based rig, as if you want to work in a professional environment, this is the software that you need to make yourself familiar with. Even if you don't have much money to spend, think of it as an investment. Now more than ever it is essential to have a place to work out of at home for a number of different reasons. As long as you have a decent interface and software to start with (i.e. a 002R or an Mbox), you can start to build your home studio from there.
As early as possible, I'd recommend finding your way into a professional studio environment. This will mean for most people interning at a recording studio. While it isn't necessary to have prior experience with your own home studio or elsewhere, it will certainly give you a leg up. You are of course going to intern so that you can learn, but having a base knowledge will not only make it a whole lot easier, but will also make you look a lot better to the people you will be working with and will earn you a bit of respect off the bat if you can show them that you at least somewhat know what you're doing. Interning is not always fun to say the least, but everyone has to pay their dues...
Another thing to consider would be to go to a recording school of some sort. While I didn't go this route, there are more and more kids out there today going through these types of programs. Since I haven't done one myself, I can't necessarily say how quality they are, but if you're looking to learn a good amount in a short period of time, recording school can be a good investment. I would however choose wisely. Having said this, studios will want to see that you are well rounded, so of course other schooling will not hurt. Recording schools can also lead to Pro Tools certification tests and other things of that nature, which although not necessary can definitely be a nice thing to have.
I really can't say it enough - if you want to be an audio engineer you need to practice! This means all the time! I'm always working on new projects and I'm always learning new things. The process is really a never ending one, as some days I feel like I know a lot and others I feel like I don't know anything! If you're going to be committed to trying to make engineering your profession, accept the constant battle as early on as possible. Just remember there is only one way to get good at what you do and develop your skills and ears and that is to do it!
I hope that this was helpful for those out there who want to engineer but don't know where to start...Good luck!