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Acoustical engineers

Acoustical engineers and consultants, also called sound engineering technicians and architectural acousticians, help design buildings to best carry sound or work with construction teams to minimize noise pollution from their projects.

Quick facts: Acoustical engineers
2021 Median Pay $60,500 per year; $29.09 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs, 2021 15,200
Job Outlook, 2021-31 8% (faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 1,600
Source O*Net

Acoustical engineers and consultants may execute sound and environmental evaluations on a building to ensure it meets codes and regulations. Acoustical engineers may work with engineers in other areas and other construction professionals where sound improvement or noise reduction is a major priority. Some examples of acoustic design approaches include:

  • Design of interior finishes (ceiling, wall panels, floor types) and room shaping to control reverberant sound level (noise build-up) and support speech intelligibility
  • Sound isolation strategies to minimize noise transfer between spaces (e.g., a classroom next to a corridor) and support speech privacy
  • HVAC noise and vibration control recommendations to minimize duct-born and vibration noise transmission to noise-sensitive spaces

How to become an acoustical engineer

Most acoustics professionals become interested in the field because of background or interest in music, or an interest in radio, theater, experience design or the arts; and pursue an undergraduate degree in architecture, engineering or a comparable course of study. Coursework should cover room acoustics, sound isolation, environmental noise, mechanical noise and control, dynamics, circuits, thermodynamics, sound control, bioacoustics, speech, psychoacoustics, and vibrations. For building-related acoustics work, a course on architectural acoustics would be very helpful.

Most employers require at least a bachelor’s degree as a minimum qualification for entry into the workforce; some entry-level jobs will require a master's degree. Important skills include multi-discipline coordination, math, communications (written and oral), creativity and problem-solving.

Education and resources

Access courses and resources to learn about green building and sustainability concepts related to acoustical engineering.

Online courses

Stay up to date on the latest developments in green building through access to online courses with an annual subscription to the USGBC course catalog.

Role on a LEED project

According to findings from the World Health Organization (WHO), noise is the second largest environmental cause of health problems, just after the impact of air pollution (via particulate matter). Sound pollution is a growing field of environmental science, and we are learning more about the impacts of sound on wildlife and humans.

On a green building project, an acoustician supports the work to provide residences, workspaces, and classrooms that promote occupants’ well-being, productivity, and communications through effective acoustic design. For example, in residences and healthcare spaces, acoustical engineers may help minimize sound levels in sleeping areas to prevent sleep disturbance. In workspaces, acousticians may focus on material selections that minimize noise transfer between office spaces. And in schools, acoustical engineers may evaluate the mechanical equipment noise in classroom spaces so all students can hear their teacher. Acousticians also support sustainability by specifying materials with low embodied energy and minimizing impacts associated with the extraction, processing, transport, maintenance and disposal of those materials.

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.

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