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Environmental Demands

Noise Level

The noise level of your workplace can range from quiet to very loud.  In many cases, you cannot control the level of noise in your work environment.  It is often determined by how many people are in the work area, or what type of machinery and equipment is used in that setting.

As you read the boxes below, keep this in mind:  The noise level may vary from place to place within one single job type.  For example, one restaurant waiter may work in a fairly quiet restaurant, but another restaurant waiter may work in a very loud and busy restaurant.  Therefore, the job types listed in each box below are provided to give you an example of one possibility.

When applying or interviewing for a job, you should visit the job site to determine if the noise level is an issue for you.
You may work in a quiet environment.

A quiet environment is a place that requires that you speak softly, does not require a lot of talking with others, or does not have a lot of background noise.  This can mean that the job environment requires the employee to work quietly or speak softly (e.g. librarian).  It can also mean that the job requires you to work by yourself often (e.g. writer, artist). It may also mean that the surroundings are quiet because there are no noisy machinery, people talking, or other sounds nearby.

How quiet is the environment? – a level 2 on a scale of 1-10.

Jobs that usually have quiet noise levels:

  • librarian
  • home health aide
  • computer programmer
  • writer                                
  • web designer
  • artist

You may work in a place that has moderate noise levels.

An environment with moderate noise levels typically has some noise – whether it’s the noise from people chatting, dogs barking, dishes clanging, or machines functioning (e.g., phones, faxes, photocopiers).

How loud is the environment? – a level 5 on a scale of 1-10. 

Jobs that usually have moderate noise levels:

  • teacher
  • professor
  • restaurant waiter
  • video game designer                                          
  • plumber
  • veterinary technician
  • office clerk
  • pharmacy technician
  • plant nursery worker

You may work in an environment that is loud.

An environment with a loud noise level involves a consistently high level of noise. These jobs typically involve loud noises including power tools (e.g., drills, saws, sanders) or other machines (e.g., airplanes, generators, conveyor belts).  In these environments, you might you have to shout to co-workers over the noise or wear ear plugs.

How loud is the environment? – a level 8  on a scale of 1-10. 

Jobs that usually have loud noise levels:

  • mechanic
  • construction worker
  • baggage handler                                                   
  • carpenter
  • production line worker
  • heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician
  • landscaper

Many jobs will range in noise level.

These jobs may have periods where the noise level is quiet, and during busy times the noise level may get louder.

Jobs that have noise levels ranging from quiet to loud:

  • restaurant waiter
  • retail salesperson
  • mechanic                                                     
  • office clerk
  • veterinary technician

Check out this graph to see an example of how noise level might change during the course of the day in a restaurant:


Sometimes, your job may require you to tolerate certain environmental demands that you do not like.  No work environment is perfect all the time.  Everyone has to cope with certain job-related environmental demands.

How can you cope with noise demands? Keep in mind that these strategies might not be okay for all work settings. You will need to ask your supervisor for permission before using some of these strategies:

Wear headphones with music.

Wear ear plugs or soundproof headphones.

Use a white noise machine or fan to "drown" out sound.

Take your scheduled breaks in a quiet place.

Hum very quietly.

Ask to work in a more quiet location (i.e. if you are in an office setting).

It is important to learn coping strategies and techniques so you will keep the job you want. Go to our Coping Section for help.