What is an acoustics engineer?
Sometimes referred to as acousticians or acoustics consultants, acoustic engineers manage and control sound. Aside from homes and workplaces, there are a range of venues (opera houses, cinemas, theatres) that rely on good acoustics. Not only must sound be transmitted effectively across the venue, but noise from outside should also be kept to a minimum. Acoustics engineers work to make that happen.
What are the typical responsibilities of an acoustics engineer?
Day to day responsibilities of an acoustic engineer include:
- Meeting with architects and other engineers to discuss building plans
- Surveying new and existing buildings to check noise levels are within legal limits
- Using computer and physical models to find innovative ways of reducing noise
- Carrying out experiments to see how changing building design affects sound levels
- Exploring how different structures affect sound vibrations
- Protect from nearby noise sources, design for optimal sound
- Working out how to make different machinery (hairdryers) quieter
What skills do I need to be a successful acoustics engineer?
Creativity is key. You’ll often need to think of innovative ways to solve sound problems; for example, if the noise is disturbing neighbours.
Teamwork is also valuable. You’ll work with other professionals, like architects and construction workers, to make sure buildings are designed with acoustics in mind.
Problem solving is also an important skill. This will allow you to put the theory you’ve learned into practice.
How do I become an acoustics engineer?
You can complete an undergraduate degree in physics, maths, engineering, acoustics or a related field. Some universities even offer specialised degrees in acoustic engineering (BEngs).
You can also become an acoustics engineer by completing an acoustic technician apprenticeship. Apprenticeships offer a number of benefits, such as a fully funded qualification (here, you’d receive a Higher National Certificate) and paid work experience. Afterwards, you could pursue further training to become an engineer.
How can I gain experience in the industry?
Work experience is highly valued, so it’s a good idea to look into different opportunities. Many music festivals offer acoustic engineer apprenticeships, and some companies offer shift work for festivals.
It’s also worth looking for opportunities from technology and engineering companies, as well as environmental consultancies. Local councils may also provide short-term work experience.
Finally, getting the Institute of Acoustics’ student membership provides valuable networking opportunities.