More than half worked in health care facilities; many others
were employed by educational services.
A master's degree in audiology (hearing) is the standard
level of education required; however, a doctoral degree is
becoming more common for new entrants.
Few openings are expected because of the small size of the
Job prospects will be favorable for those possessing the
doctoral (Au.D.) degree.
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.
Work environment. 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.
All States require audiologists to be licensed or registered.
Licensure or registration requires at least a master's degree in
audiology; however, a first professional, or doctoral, degree is
becoming increasingly necessary.
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
Pathology (CAA) 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
anatomy; physiology; physics; genetics; normal and abnormal
communication development; auditory, balance, and neural systems
assessment and treatment; diagnosis and treatment; pharmacology;
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 District of Columbia
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
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
Advancement. With experience, audiologists can
advance to open their own private practice. Audiologist working
in hospitals and clinics can advance to management or