Audiologists work with people who have hearing, balance, and related ear
problems. They examine individuals of all ages and identify those with
the symptoms of hearing loss and other auditory, balance, and related
sensory and neural problems. They then assess the nature and extent of
the problems and help the individuals manage them. Using audiometers,
computers, and other testing devices, they measure the loudness at which
a person begins to hear sounds, the ability to distinguish between
sounds, and the impact of hearing loss on an individual's daily life. In
addition, audiologists use computer equipment to evaluate and diagnose
balance disorders. Audiologists interpret these results and may
coordinate them with medical, educational, and psychological information
to make a diagnosis and determine a course of treatment.
Hearing disorders can result from a variety of causes including trauma
at birth, viral infections, genetic disorders, exposure to loud noise,
certain medications, or aging. Treatment may include examining and
cleaning the ear canal, fitting and dispensing hearing aids, and fitting
and programming cochlear implants. Audiologic treatment also includes
counseling on adjusting to hearing loss, training on the use of hearing
instruments, and teaching communication strategies for use in a variety
of environments. For example, they may provide instruction in listening
strategies. Audiologists also may recommend, fit, and dispense personal
or large area amplification systems and alerting devices.
In audiology clinics, audiologists may independently develop and carry
out treatment programs. They keep records on the initial evaluation,
progress, and discharge of patients. In other settings, audiologists may
work with other health and education providers as part of a team in
planning and implementing services for children and adults. Audiologists
who diagnose and treat balance disorders often work in collaboration
with physicians, and physical and occupational therapists.
Some audiologists specialize in work with the elderly, children, or
hearing-impaired individuals who need special treatment programs. Others
develop and implement ways to protect workers' hearing from on-the-job
injuries. They measure noise levels in workplaces and conduct hearing
protection programs in factories and in schools and communities.
Audiologists who work in private practice also manage the business
aspects of running an office, such as developing a patient base, hiring
employees, keeping records, and ordering equipment and supplies.
A few audiologists conduct research on types of, and treatment for,
hearing, balance, and related disorders. Others design and develop
equipment or techniques for diagnosing and treating these disorders.
Providing the research on which clinicians base their methodology,
speech, language and hearing scientists:
Explore trends in communication sciences.
Develop strategies for expanding the knowledge
base in their field.
Investigate the biological, physical, and
physiological processes of communication.
Explore the impact of psychological, social, and
other factors on communication disorders.
Develop evidence-based methods for diagnosing
and treating individuals with speech, language and hearing
Collaborate with related professionals (such as
engineers, physicians, dentists, educators) to develop a
comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating individuals with
speech, voice, language and hearing problems.
addition, researchers may:
Prepare future professionals and scientists in
Schools and universities.
Conduct research at or consult with
universities, hospitals, government health agencies and industries.
audiologists and speech-language pathologists, research scientists are
educated in their specific area of interest. However, while clinicians
can practice with a master's degree or clinical doctorate, scientists
must earn a research doctorate.
Schools and Universities
Research Laboratories and Institutes
State and Federal Government Agencies
Education and training: Individuals must have at least a master's degree in audiology to
qualify for a job. However, a first professional or doctoral degree is
becoming more common. As of early 2007, eight States required a doctoral
degree or its equivalent. The professional doctorate in audiology
(Au.D.) requires approximately 8 years of university training and
supervised professional experience.
In early 2007, the Accreditation Commission of Audiology Education
accredited more than 50 Au.D. programs and the Council on Academic
Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language
accredited over 70 graduate programs in audiology. Graduation from an
accredited program may be required to obtain a license in some States.
Requirements for admission to programs in audiology include courses in
English, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and
communication. Graduate coursework in audiology includes
physiology; physics; genetics; normal and abnormal communication
development; auditory, balance, and neural systems assessment and
treatment; diagnosis and treatment; pharmacology; and ethics.
Licensure and certification: Audiologists are regulated by
licensure or registration in all 50 States. Forty-one States have
continuing education requirements for licensure renewal, the number of
hours required varies by State. Twenty States and the
also require audiologists to have a Hearing Aid Dispenser license to
dispense hearing aids; for the remaining 30 States, an audiologist
license is all that is needed to dispense hearing aids. Third-party
payers generally require practitioners to be licensed to qualify for
reimbursement. States set requirements for education, mandating a
master's or doctoral degree, as well as other requirements. For
information on the specific requirements of your State, contact that
State's licensing board.
In some States, specific certifications from professional associations
satisfy some or all of the requirements for State licensure.
Certification can be obtained from two certifying bodies. Audiologists
can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A)
offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; they may
also be certified through the American Board of Audiology.
Other qualifications: Audiologists should be able to effectively
communicate diagnostic test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments
in a manner easily understood by their patients. They must be able to
approach problems objectively and provide support to patients and their
families. Because a patient's progress may be slow, patience,
compassion, and good listening skills are necessary.
It is important for audiologists to be aware of new diagnostic and
treatment technologies. Most audiologists participate in continuing
education courses to learn new methods and technologies.
Advancement: With experience, audiologists can advance to open
their own private practice. Audiologist working in hospitals and clinics
can advance to management or supervisory positions.
become a speech, language, or hearing scientist, you must have a sincere
interest in the development of the field of human communication sciences
and disorders. You should also select undergraduate courses from a
variety of scientific disciplines including physics, biology, chemistry,
mathematics, linguistics, psychology, as well as a program of study in
the speech, language and hearing sciences. The next step is to obtain a
Master's degree. This will begin to direct you into a particular area of
interest; an area that you believe needs further exploration. Give
careful thought to the doctoral programs to which you apply as that
program will act as a vehicle for making contact with other
professionals in the field, and those with whom you will work on your
doctoral dissertation. This work will be the basis of future research
pursuits in the communication sciences and disorders.
Salaries of speech, language and hearing scientists vary depending on
experience, employment setting, and geographical location. Median annual
earnings of wage-and-salary audiologists were $57,120 in May 2006. The
middle 50 percent earned between $47,220 and $70,940. The lowest 10
percent earned less than $38,370, and the highest 10 percent earned more
than $89,160. Some employers may pay for continuing education courses.
Audiologists held about 12,000 jobs in 2006. More than half of
all jobs were in health care facilities”offices of physicians
or other health practitioners, including audiologists;
hospitals; and outpatient care centers. About 13 percent of jobs
were in educational services, including elementary and secondary
schools. Other jobs for audiologists were in health and personal
care stores, including hearing aid stores; scientific research
and development services; and State and local governments.
small number of audiologists were self-employed in private
practice. They provided hearing health care services in their
own offices or worked under contract for schools, health care
facilities, or other establishments.
Audiologists usually work at a desk or table in clean, comfortable
surroundings. The job is not physically demanding but does require
attention to detail and intense concentration. The emotional needs of
patients and their families may be demanding. Most full-time
audiologists work about 40 hours per week, which may include weekends
and evenings to meet the needs of patients. Some work part time. Those
who work on a contract basis may spend a substantial amount of time
traveling between facilities. The quality of the environment in which
you work is dependent upon the amount of revenue a particular facility
generates. That is, facilities that produce more credible research
generally have more revenue to allocate to things such as equipment,
laboratory facilities and perhaps even to salary. Because the fields of
audiology and speech-language pathology are expanding, so do the
research areas that accompany those fields. Chances are, if you develop
a research plan, and formulate it well usually, there is a funding
source and laboratory setting available to you.
Size of the Profession
currently represents over
130,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists and
speech, language, and hearing scientists. Less than one percent of the
ASHA members and affiliates identified research as their primary
genetics and hereditary research being the driving force of the future,
research scientists have much to look forward to! Not only will there be
opportunity to examine causality and progression issues, there will also
be time to explore new techniques to prevent, identify, assess and
rehabilitate speech, language, and hearing impairments. In addition,
researchers will continue to investigate the neurobiological,
neurophysiological and physical processes underlying normal
communication. Furthermore, the future holds great opportunity for
research scientists to investigate and examine cultural diversity in
human communication. Additionally, there will be more opportunities for
scientists and clinical practitioners to collaborate as they will design
and implement multicenter randomized behavioral and medical treatment
protocols for disorders of speech, voice/swallowing, language, hearing,
and balance. There are extreme shortages of speech, language, and
hearing scientists and teacher-scholars in all areas of the country,
especially in inner city, rural, and less populated areas.
Average employment growth is projected. However, because of the
small size of the occupation, few job openings are expected. Job
prospects will be favorable for those possessing the Au.D.
Employment change. Employment of audiologists is expected to grow 10 percent from
2006 to 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Hearing loss is strongly associated with aging, so rapid growth
in older population groups will cause the number of people with
hearing and balance impairments to increase markedly. Medical
advances also are improving the survival rate of premature
infants and trauma victims, who then need assessment and
sometimes treatment. Greater awareness of the importance of
early identification and diagnosis of hearing disorders in
infants also will increase employment. A number of States
require that newborns be screened for hearing loss and receive
appropriate early intervention services.
Employment in educational services will increase along with
growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including
enrollment of special education students.
Growth in employment of audiologists will be moderated by
limitations on reimbursements made by third-party payers for the
tests and services they provide.
Job prospects. Job prospects will be favorable for those possessing the Au.D.
degree. Only a few job openings for audiologists will arise from
the need to replace those who leave the occupation, because the
occupation is relatively small and workers tend to stay in this
occupation until they retire