Make a sound decision for a career in noise

an acoustics consultant (also known as an acoustician or acoustics engineer) helps 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:

l carrying out noise assessments on buildings to make sure sound insulation methods meet Building Regulations

l performing environmental noise surveys to check levels comply with legislation

l testing how changes to a building’s design affects sound levels and quality

l using computer modelling to design plans aimed at reducing or eliminating machinery noise and vibration in the workplace

l advising in legal proceedings like noise nuisance disputes or medical cases like Vibration White Finger

l investigating the effects of sound vibrations on machinery and structures, such as bridges, aircraft or household goods

l designing and working with recording studio and broadcast equipment

l 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.

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 sites.

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.

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. 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.

The skills and knowledge preferred for a position in acoustics include

l problem solving

l the ability to explain design plans clearly

l good IT skills for planning and testing designs, a flair for maths and science

l an understanding of environmental legislation and standards

l good budgeting and negotiating skills,

l good project management and organisational skills

l strong spoken and written communication skills.