Doctor’s of Audiology can walk alongside their patient’s for their entire lifetimes, helping them cope with hearing loss, providing technology and teaching them how to interact with the world in new ways. A young child that comes to an Audiologist may see the same doctor throughout their education, into college and into their career as they overcome hurdles associated with hearing loss. Older patients may be experiencing hearing loss for the first time and can get the treatment and care that will allow them to continue sharing their stories and interacting with their families for years to come. It is a rewarding profession and it is projected that the need for audiologists will grow in the coming years.
What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist has a doctoral degree in audiology and works in a healthcare setting, school or industrial setting to identify, diagnose, and treat disorders of the auditory and vestibular systems within the ear. These may include hearing loss, hearing difficulty or balance problems. Patients can be from all walks of life and any age group including infants, children, teens, adults and the elderly.
In some cases, an audiologist will help come up with a plan of hearing conservation in order to help those who are at risk for hearing loss (because of their job or other medical factors) maintain their hearing for a longer period of time. They can also be involved in education about hearing loss or providing strategies to teachers and employers concerning hearing loss and hearing conservation.
Depending on the setting, audiologists may work with patients, students, teachers, other doctors, employers, workers, family members or peers to provide support, education or treatment regarding hearing loss, hearing disorders or balance issues.
An audiologist may be involved on some of the following services:
Step by Step Educational Path of an Audiologist
In addition to state licenses, audiologists can ear a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology, or a CCC-A, which is offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The American Board of Audiology also offers credentials. Certifications and licenses are based on state and place of employment.
Understanding the Career Path
Audiologists work in a variety of settings. General audiologists must know a lot about the field in order to provide care to a variety of patients who all present with different symptoms and need different levels of care and treatment. Some audiologists choose to specialize in a part of the field that is of interest to them, like industrial audiology, or to a patient demographic, like pediatrics, while others can see a whole range of patients throughout their day.
The following are some of the specializations available for clinical audiologists:
Depending on the specialization, audiologists can work in healthcare facilities, hospitals, physicians’ offices, or clinics as well as schools, with industrial companies or other environments where hearing is tested or protected. For most audiologists, hours are regular and there are few emergencies or surprises, which distinguishes it from many other medical professions.
Job Outlook For Audiologist
The job outlook for Audiologists is much better than the average job outlook. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 34% growth in the field by 2022. This is due in part to the aging population of the U.S. and the hearing loss increases that come with age. It is also in response to improving technology and testing that can identify hearing disorders in children and technological advancements in hearing aids – like smaller sizes, Bluetooth and wireless capabilities – that may make them more in demand.
There are five important qualities that all audiologists should have: Communication skills, compassion, critical-thinking skills, patience and problem-solving skills.
Audiologists work directly with patients and their families and must be able to engage and interact one on one in order to provide proper treatment and help patients who are experiencing hearing loss or dizziness. In addition to working with patients, audiologists usually work alongside other healthcare providers including doctors and nurses in order to provide complete patient care. It is not uncommon for an audiologist to work with Ear, Nose and Throat doctors, speech-language pathologists, nurses and educators on behalf of their patients. In some settings, audiologists may work with engineers, scientists and industrial workers in order to develop programs and educate on hearing conservation.
In some cases, patients do not respond to initial treatments and audiologists must be able to analyze the patient response, provide alternative treatment plans and work to adjust hearing devices over time in order to provide a patient with comfort and care. Patients who see an audiologists who are having difficulty hearing often need more time or special attention and an audiologists should be prepared to patiently handle every interaction.
Expected Audiologist Salary
Audiologists make between $49,000 and $92,400 per year. There are opportunities in some positions to receive bonuses, profit sharing or even commission as an audiologist, which can result in a higher pay range. An audiologist’s salary is also dependent on their geographic location and their work setting as well as their professional qualifications and specialized skills.
The top paying states for audiologists include New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Kentucky and New York.
Audiologists may find work in the school setting, working with students who have hearing loss or helping students that have auditory processing disorders. Students may have mild hearing impairments that affect the student’s ability to perform in school and are recognized by an audiologist, or they may have severe or profound impairments which are already under treatment in which a school audiologist may help with treatment, education, or other matters pertaining to the student’s education. In the average month, a school audiologist will work with around 55 students in the following areas of intervention:
For school audiologists, the earned median income was $67,000 in 2014 for academic year and of $77,157 for calendar year. School audiologists can increase their salary by obtaining a ASHA CCC certification, for taking on extra duties, as a recruitment or retention bonus, or for providing bilingual services.
Audiologists vs. Hearing Instrument Specialists
Audiologists are different from hearing instrument specialists both in educational background and practice and job responsibilities. Audiologists have a doctorate degree and obtain state license as a physician, which enables them to provide a broad level of patient care. This care includes prevention, identification, evaluation, consultation, and rehabilitation, instruction and research as well as hearing aid and assisted listening device evaluation, selection, preparation, dispensing and orientation among other duties as a physician.
In contrast, a hearing instrument specialist is focused exclusively on the hearing device sale, which may include measurement and testing, but is limited in their interaction with patients. Hearing instrument specialists are most commonly found in health and personal care stores or general merchandise stores, though they can also be found in health settings working alongside the physicians and nurses that are giving care.