- Samantha Hathway
How to Become an Acoustic Consultant
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
Acoustic Consultants regulate sound. Their work is all around us, it’s one of those jobs that people rarely hear about, but is incredibly rewarding for those who find their way into the profession.
Every building and habitat has an ideal acoustical environment, and the work of an Acoustic Consultant is to ensure that buildings and spaces are designed to minimise noise disruption and carefully curated for their specific function. Their work influences the way we live our lives, helping ensure unwanted noise levels are kept to a minimum in the homes, offices and the outside spaces we inhabit.
What does an Acoustic Consultant do?
In general terms, the role of an Acoustic Consultant is to assess and solve issues concerning noise and vibration. These sound experts will usually work as part of a specialist team, using specific equipment and methodology to:
· monitor and assess noise sources,
· help to design performing arts spaces,
· ensure that sound levels meet regulatory guidelines, and
· where there’s been a complaint, advise on potential solutions.
So if you like problem-solving, this is the ideal career for you.
Where do Acoustic Consultants work?
Acoustic Consultants work across a broad range of business sectors and are employed by professionals such as architects, construction crews, sound designers, marine conservation trusts and lawyers. They advise on the construction of homes, offices, schools and hospitals; oversee the design of highways and airports; help mitigate the impact of underwater projects on marine wildlife and help ensure that music venues provide the perfect sound environment.
Acoustic Consultants don’t just work at the point of construction, they can also be brought in to retrofit solutions where there’s noise pollution, which is becoming a real issue with the amount of construction springing up in towns and cities across the country. They also work with legal teams to resolve disputes.
In short, the work of an Acoustic Consultant is to help preserve our environment - ensuring our homes, offices, outdoor spaces, and even entertainment venues are pleasant places to live, work and play in.
What qualifications are required?
Academically, the minimum entry requirements are:
· 5 GCSEs at 4-9 or C-A* grade, including English, Maths and a Science
· 2-3 A' Levels, including Physics and Maths
There are then two main options for entering this profession:
1. Higher Education - the Institute of Acoustics recommends candidates attain an undergraduate degree in one of the following subjects:
At present, the University of Southampton, the University of Salford and Southampton Solent University offer specific Acoustics and Acoustical Engineering degrees; consult UCAS or the Institute of Acoustics, for further information.
Another route is to study Music Technology or Environmental Science. However, you would then need to undertake a further course such as an MSc in Acoustics before being able to apply for specific on the job training.
2. Apprenticeship - you can also become an Acoustic Consultant via a work-based Higher Apprenticeship; these technical positions can be found online but you will need further training to become a fully qualified consultant. In order to qualify for such an apprenticeship, you’ll need A levels or equivalent qualifications, including Maths and a Science.
However you come to this profession, many employers will also expect you to attain a diploma from the Institute of Acoustics. This specialist training allows Corporate Membership to the industry governing body and provides high level training in real-world settings.
What key skills are required?
This isn’t just a technical job. Given the fact that you’ll be joining teams of experts and working with professionals across a wide variety of professions, you’ll need a broad spectrum of skills. These include:
· A keen interest in engineering science and acoustics
· Excellent technical skills
· Good computing and software skills
· Excellent technical writing skills
· Be able to pay attention to detail
· Possess good interpersonal skills
· Have a patient disposition
· Able to work under pressure
· Able to accept criticism and be flexible in your approach
What are the day-to-day tasks of an Acoustic Consultant?
In terms of your working environment, you could be office based or in a laboratory. You will also find yourself making frequent site visits, so this is great if you don’t want to be tied to a desk (or a lab bench!)
Given the wide remit of this profession, your day to day duties can vary greatly. The role will typically include the following:
· Meeting with clients to understand their needs
· Organising proposals and tenders for jobs
· Using advanced equipment to measure sound levels
· Assessing whether sound levels are within legal limits
· Identifying the source of noise pollution
· Using CAD software to create 3D models and renderings
· Modelling complex data, summarising results for presentation to client
· Advising clients on the best solution to meet their needs and budget
· Giving advice in legal disputes
· Researching new ways to improve sound levels and quality
· Meeting with building inspectors to ensure regulatory requirements are met
· Advising on ways to dampen noise in specific environments
· Designing bespoke spaces such as recording studios
Once you’re an Acoustic Consultant, what career progression is available?
There’s a definite career ladder for those interested in entering this profession. You can move on from a junior role to project lead, or choose to specialise in a specific field. This can be underwater, construction, architectural or in the performing arts field, to name but a few.
Attaining Corporate Membership of the Institute of Acoustics is also important for those looking to progress in this industry. By joining this professional body you’ll make useful contacts and ensure you remain at the cutting edge of the profession.
We hope this post has helped to demystify the role of an Acoustics Engineer and helped you understand the rigorous training we go through to do what we love, and the broad remit we fulfill. If you’re looking for acoustic advice then please don’t hesitate to contact us, we provide a bespoke approach to the construction industry and specialise in planning applications, noise assessments and surveys. We use the latest modelling technology and remain abreast of all legislative requirements to provide you with the advice you need – from planning to acoustic testing on completion. Contact us on 020 7859 4530 for our London office and on 0118 207 7324 for our Reading office that services the South East. Alternatively, contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.