CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 08, 2014
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How To Become An Acoustics Consultant

Your work as an Acoustics Consultant would involve helping to control and manage the noises and vibrations in our environment, home and workplace. This job demands creativity and a practical approach to problem solving together with strong communication skills and a broad knowledge of environmental legislation and standards.

Skills, interests and qualities

To be suitable for a career as an Acoustics consultant you should have:

  • the ability to design plans clearly
  • a practical, organised and creative approach to problem solving
  • good IT skills
  • a flair for science and maths
  • a clear understanding of environmental legislation
  • good project management skills
  • excellent communication skills

The work

Acoustics Consultants work across a broad spectrum of industries; for example, media, medical technology, construction or the environment and your role would vary according to your area of work. You could choose to specialise in areas as diverse as telecommunications, audio and hi-fi design, underwater acoustics and the design of concert venues and auditoria.

Your duties could include:

  • performing noise assessment work on buildings to ensure building regulations are complied with
  • carrying out environmental surveys to check that noise levels are within legal limits
  • carrying out testing to see how changes to a building design could affect sound quality and noise levels
  • exploring ways to reduce workplace machinery noise and vibration using computer technology
  • providing specialist advice in legal cases
  • looking at how vibrations caused by sound affect machinery and structures like bridges or aircraft
  • working with and designing recording studio and broadcast sound equipment
  • designing ultrasound and other medical equipment

As part of your job, you would use computer programs and other technical equipment to record data which you would later analyse. You would be required to produce reports and recommendations based on your findings.

Hours

Your hours would depend on your area of work, but you would usually work 9am to 5pm. You might be required to work shifts and some projects could entail working away from home or at unsocial hours.

You would work in the office, on-site and in the lab.

Income

Starting salary

£18,000 to 25,000 per annum

With more experience

Up to £35,000 per annum

Senior Acoustics Consultants

In excess of £50,000 per annum

Entry requirements

This job usually requires a degree-level qualification.  This could be in a relevant subject such as:

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

To be accepted for a degree, you would need five GCSEs, grades ‘A’ – ‘C’ including maths, science and English. In addition, you would require three ‘A’ levels including maths and physics.

As an alternative, you could begin work as an assistant or trainee technician with the chance to qualify after further training as an engineer or consultant. To follow this route you would need four GCSEs, grades ‘A’ – ‘C’ including maths, science and English or the Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Applied Science or equivalent.

There is also the possibility of entering this career through an Apprenticeship scheme although this would depend on what was available in your area. You can find more information on what’s available at the Apprenticeships website.  http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ 

For further information about degrees, post grad courses and other professional qualifications, see the Institute of Acoustics (IOA) website.  http://www.ioa.org.uk/

Training and development

Your career would generally begin on a structured graduate training scheme where you would work with experienced staff as your mentors. You would probably be required to work towards the IOA Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control which offers specialist modules pertinent to your area of work. These include:

  • regulation and assessment of noise
  • noise and vibration control engineering
  • environmental noise; measurement, control and prediction
  • building acoustics

It may be possible for you to study for the Diploma on a distance learning basis. More information about this and other relevant courses is available at the IOA website, education and training pages.  http://www.ioa.org.uk/education-and-training/    

Job opportunities

There is a wide range of organisations across a broad spectrum of industries where you could find work as an Acoustics Consultant in both the public and private sector. Once you have the necessary experience and training, you could aim for chartered status with the IOA which could help you to progress to the role of Senior Acoustics Engineer.

Further information

You could find the following helpful for general reading and job vacancies:

http://www.justengineers.net/  JustEngineers

http://www.greenjobs.co.uk/browse-jobs/acoustic-jobs   Acoustic Jobs

http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/skills/percase/  Research Councils UK (case studies and booklets)

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