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Acoustics Consultant


Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Acoustics Consultant

The Work

As an acoustics consultant (also known as an acoustician or acoustics engineer) you would help to manage, regulate and control the noises and vibrations that surround us in our home, workplace and environment.

You could work in a variety of fields, for example construction, noise pollution, the media or medical technology. Your exact duties would depend on your area of work but could include:

  • carrying out noise assessments on buildings to make sure sound insulation methods meet Building Regulations
  • performing environmental noise surveys to check levels are within acceptable limits of legislation, such as the Noise at Work Act
  • testing how changes to a building's design affects sound levels and quality (known as auralisation)
  • using computer modelling to design plans aimed at reducing or eliminating machinery noise and vibration in the workplace
  • advising in legal proceedings like noise nuisance disputes or medical cases like Vibration White Finger
  • investigating the effects of sound vibrations on machinery and structures, such as bridges, aircraft or household goods
  • designing and working with recording studio and broadcast sound equipment
  • designing medical instruments like ultrasound equipment to help doctors diagnose and treat patients.

You would use computer programs to analyse data and produce reports detailing your findings, with recommendations for action.

Hours and Environment

You could work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, or on a shift system, depending on the job. Some projects could include working unsocial hours or overnight stays away from home.

Your time would be split between the office, the lab and on site.

Skills and Interests


  • a creative and practical approach to solving problems
  • the ability to explain design plans clearly
  • good IT skills for planning and testing designs
  • a flair for maths and science
  • an understanding of environmental legislation and standards
  • good budgeting and negotiating skills
  • good project management and organisational skills
  • strong spoken and written communication skills.

Entry

Most employers expect you to have a degree-level qualification. Relevant subjects include:

  • acoustics
  • maths
  • physics
  • environmental science
  • mechanical engineering
  • construction-related subjects.

You could specialise in a particular area, for example transport or building acoustics, after completing a postgraduate diploma through the Institute of Acoustics (IOA).

Alternatively, you may be able to start work as an assistant or trainee technician, and with further training, qualify as an engineer or consultant. To do this, you would normally need at least four GCSEs (grades A-C), including two science subjects, maths and English, or equivalent qualifications like the BTEC Certificate or Diploma in Applied Science.

Employers may consider alternative qualifications or relevant work experience, such as non-destructive testing, if you do not have academic qualifications.

You may be able to get into this career through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

See the IOA website for more information about relevant degrees, postgraduate courses and professional qualifications.  Furthermore, you could see the National Universities and Colleges Courses listed on The Rich Works website.

Training

You would usually start work on a structured graduate training scheme, working under the supervision of experienced staff.

You could take professional development training offered by the IOA, including:

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control
  • Certificate of Competence in Workplace Noise Risk Assessment (CCWPNRA)
  • Certificate of Competence in Environmental Noise Measurement (CCENM)
  • Certificate in the Management of Occupational Exposure to Hand Arm Vibration (CMOEHAV).

You can take the Postgraduate Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control by distance learning. See the IOA website for further details and a list of course providers.

Opportunities

You could work for a range of organisations, including building and civil engineering firms, local authorities, sound recording studios, the NHS, aerospace companies and universities.

With experience and further training, you could gain chartered status with the IOA.  You may need this in order to progress to the role of senior acoustics engineer.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading: (links open in new window)

 
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Annual Income


  • Starting salaries for newly-qualified staff are from 20,000 to 25,000 a year.
  • With experience, this can rise to 35,000.
  • Senior acoustics consultants can earn more than 50,000 a year.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.

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