Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or ear problems.
What they do
Audiologists typically do the following:
- Examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems
- Assess the results of the examination and diagnose problems
- Determine and administer treatment to meet patients’ goals
- Provide treatment for tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing in the ear
- Fit and dispense hearing aids
- Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate, such as lip reading or through technology
- Evaluate patients regularly to check on hearing and balance and to continue or change treatment plans
- Record patient progress
- Research the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders
- Educate patients on ways to prevent hearing loss
Audiologists use audiometers, computers, and other devices to test patients’ hearing ability and balance. They work to determine the extent of hearing damage and identify the underlying cause. Audiologists measure the loudness at which a person begins to hear sounds and the person’s ability to distinguish between sounds and understand speech.
Before determining treatment options, audiologists evaluate psychological information to measure the impact of hearing loss on a patient. Treatment may include cleaning wax out of ear canals, fitting and checking hearing aids, or working with physicians to fit the patient with cochlear implants to improve hearing. Cochlear implants are tiny devices that are placed under the skin near the ear and deliver electrical impulses directly to the auditory nerve in the brain. This allows a person with certain types of deafness to be able to hear.
Audiologists also counsel patients on other ways to cope with profound hearing loss, such as lip reading or using technology.
Audiologists can help a patient suffering from vertigo or other balance problems. They work with patients and provide them with exercises involving head movement or positioning that might relieve some of their symptoms.
Some audiologists specialize in working with the elderly or with children. Others educate the public on hearing loss prevention. Audiologists may design products to help protect the hearing of workers on the job. Audiologists who are self-employed hire employees, keep records, order equipment and supplies, and complete other tasks related to running a business.
Some audiologists travel between multiple facilities. Audiologists work closely with registered nurses, audiology assistants (a type of medical assistant), and other healthcare workers.
How to become an Audiologist
Audiologists need a doctoral degree and must be licensed in all states. Requirements for licensure vary by state.
The doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.) is a graduate program that typically takes 4 years to complete. A bachelor’s degree in any field is needed to enter one of these programs.
Graduate coursework includes anatomy, physiology, physics, genetics, normal and abnormal communication development, diagnosis and treatment, pharmacology, and ethics. Programs also include supervised clinical practice. Graduation from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation is required to get a license in most states.
Audiologists must be licensed in all states. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact your state’s licensing board for audiologists.
Audiologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. They also may be credentialed through the American Board of Audiology. Certification can be earned by graduating from an accredited doctoral program and passing a standardized exam. Certification may be required by some states or employers. Some states may allow certification in place of some education or training requirements needed for licensure.
The median annual wage for audiologists was $77,600 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,750.
Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 1,800 new jobs over the 10-year period.
An aging baby-boom population and growing life expectancies will continue to increase the demand for most healthcare services. Hearing loss and balance disorders become more prevalent as people age, so the aging population is likely to increase demand for audiologists.
Similar Job Titles
Audiologist, Audiology Director, Audiology Doctor (AUD), Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology Licensed Audiologist (CCC-A Licensed Audiologist), Clinical Audiologist, Clinical Director, Dispensing Audiologist, Doctor of Audiology, Educational Audiologist, Pediatric Audiologist
Chiropractor, Dietitian and Nutritionist, Physical Therapist, Nurse Midwife, Naturopathic Physician
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Academy of Doctors of Audiology
- Acoustical Society of America
- American Academy of Audiology
- American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
- American Board of Audiology
- American Hearing Aid Associates
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- American Tinnitus Association
- Audiological Resource Association
- Educational Audiology Association
Magazines and Publications
Audiologists test patients’ hearing, and examine patients who have balance —or other—ear problems. Most audiologists fit patients with hearing aids, and monitor their hearing over time. Because hearing loss can influence a person’s well-being, audiologists evaluate psychological health, and determine a patient’s coping skills before they recommend treatment. They treat balance disorders with special exercises, clear ear wax from ear canals, and may fit patients with cochlear implants for some types of deafness. They may also do research or educate people on how to prevent—or cope with— hearing loss. Compassion is essential in virtually all healthcare careers, but audiologists in particular need the patience and perseverance to find solutions for patients who may be frustrated and anxious due to hearing or balance problems. They need strong communication skills to help patients and their families understand diagnoses or treatment options. Most audiologists work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics. Some work for school districts or in pharmacies. Most audiologists work full time, including some evenings and weekends, although a significant number are employed part time. Audiologists need a doctoral degree and must be licensed to practice in a particular state. Requirements vary by state. Doctoral degrees in audiology typically take 4 years to complete; candidates may apply to enter programs after earning a bachelor’s degree in any field.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org