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What Does an Acoustician Do?

Some acousticians help design opera houses and concert halls.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2014
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An acoustician is someone who specializes in the study of sound. There are a number of applications for acoustics, ranging from designing concert halls to studying whales, and acousticians can be found working in all sorts of environments, with all kinds of people. People who are interested in careers in acoustics can take advantage of the training at colleges and universities all over the world, including graduate level work in specific areas of acoustics.

One branch of acoustics which an acoustician can be involved in is bioacoustics, the study of sound in animals and in the natural environment. This field of study can include researching animal communication, the role of sound in animal environments, and the ways in which animal and plant life can be disrupted through sound. For example, an acoustician might research bird populations to determine whether or not the noise of a large human community disrupts them, or study the mechanics of speech and hearing in humans.

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Acousticians can also be involved in acoustical engineering. An acoustical architect, for example, is skilled at designing buildings and spaces to minimize or maximize sound. An opera house, for example, needs a very specific design for good acoustics, so that people in the audience can enjoy the music. Conversely, a huge office building needs special measures to keep sound levels low so that people are not overwhelmed with noise. Acoustic engineers are familiar with issues such as sound transmission, interference, absorption, and reflection, using this information to lay out spaces and design devices which will function as intended. An acoustician can also opt to work in the recording industry, providing advice about how to lay out recording booths and acting as a consultant for film and television production.

Other work for an acoustician can include research work which is designed to explore the basic properties of sound. This can include underwater acoustics, the study of ultrasound and infrasound, and the study of sound in a wide variety of environments, from thin mountain air to subway tunnels. These acousticians generate valuable information which can be used for everything from developing new medical imaging equipment to inventing sound dampening systems for trains.

Work as an acoustician can be quite varied. The rate of pay can be high, especially for people with extremely specialized skills, and acoustician jobs can include opportunities for research, field work, and work in the lab. Sound is an important part of society, whether an acoustician is developing alert devices for the blind or researching the way in which sound travels underwater.

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