An audiologist specializes in communication science and disorders. He or she uses various instruments to diagnose hearing difficulties and balance disorders. An audiologist measures hearing loss and determines its cause. Once a diagnosis has been reached, he or she develops a treatment plan that takes into account the impact the disability is having on the patient.
Audiologists are often members of a team of health professionals that includes speech pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and physicians. Some work primarily with geriatric patients while others specialize in working with children.
Audiologists held about 13,000 jobs in 2012. Most of these jobs were in hospitals, the offices of other healthcare practitioners and in audiology clinics. Some worked in schools.
Audiologists generally work full time.To accommodate patients' schedules they sometimes have to work weekends and evenings. Some are self-employed.
Generally, to practice as an audiologist, you will need to earn a Doctor of Audiology degree or AuD. This usually takes four years after first earning a bachelor's degree. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) suggests that a candidate's undergraduate education consist of a strong "arts and sciences focus ... with course work in linguistics, phonetics, psychology, speech and hearing, mathematics, biological sciences, physical sciences and social sciences" (ASHA. Fact Sheet for Audiology).
All graduate programs are not equal. Do some research before you choose one since some states will not give a license to someone who has not graduated from a audiology program that is accredited by The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). Furthermore, if you do not attend an accredited program, you will not be eligible to apply for ASHA's Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A). You can check the licensing requirements of the state in which you want to practice before you select a school. Visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website to see the state-by-state directory of licensing requirements and contact information.
All 50 states have licensure requirements for audiologists. They vary by state, but, as discussed earlier, to become licensed, one usually has to earn an AuD and in some cases it must be granted by an accredited program.
ASHA offers voluntary certification. The Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) is identical to some states' licensure requirements. To be eligible to apply, one needs to have completed an AuD and passed the Praxis Exam in audiology, a national test administered by the Education Testing Service (ETS). Alternatively, one can get certified by the American Board of Audiologists (ABA). Applicants must have a doctorate degree and pass a national exam. ABA also offers specialty certification in cochlear implants and in pediatric audiology.
In addition to your formal training, you will need certain soft skills, or personal qualities. To be a successful audiologist you must have good communication skills and be able to approach problems objectively. You must be patient and compassionate.
As the population ages, the demand for audiologists will follow suit. This occupation has a very favorable outlook with growth the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will be faster than the average for all occupations through 2022. As a matter of fact, it is at the top of a list of occupations expected to grow faster than all others that require a graduate degree. Please note, though, that audiology is a relatively small field, and its expected growth won't result in a great number of job openings.
In 2012, audiologists earned a median annual salary of $69,720 and median hourly wages of $33.52 (US).
Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much audiologists currently earn in your city.
A Day in an Audiologist's Life:
These are some typical job duties taken from online ads for audiologist positions found on Indeed.com:
- Provide accurate diagnosis, appropriate referral and active follow-up of all patients.
- Determine appropriate assessment tools and strategies and implement appropriate treatment plans for all patients receiving rehabilitative services.
- Provide proper care for departmental equipment.
- Select and administer the appropriate diagnostic procedures for each patient based on age and performance ability.
- Generate patient reports and other paperwork needed for patient care.
- Fit and dispense prospective clients with an appropriate make and model of hearing aid technology and product based on their hearing loss situation.
- Program hearing aids using a computer.
- Identify impairments and dysfunction of auditory, balance and other related systems.
- Provide cochlear implant programming.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Audiologists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/audiologists.htm (visited January 21, 2014).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Audiologists, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/29-1181.00 (visited January 21, 2014).