Audiologist

Overview

Audiologists work with people who have hearing, balance and related ear problems. They examine people of all ages to identify problems, assess the nature and extent of the problems, and help the individuals manage them. Audiologists use audiometers and other testing devices to 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. They evaluate and diagnose balance disorders. Audiologists interpret test results and consider all medical, educational and psychological information to make a diagnosis and determine a course of treatment. Treatment for hearing disorders may include 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.

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. Audiologists may also conduct research on hearing and related disorders, or design and development equipment for treating these disorders.

Details

Potential Employers

  • Physician and other health practitioner offices
  • Private practice
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Educational services
  • Health and personal care retail stores
  • State and local government

Work Environment

Audiologists usually work in comfortable surroundings and the work is not physically demanding.  It does, however, require attention to detail and intense concentration.  The emotional needs of patients and families may be demanding.  Most audiologists work 40 hours a week, which may include some evening and weekend hours to meet the needs of patients.

Job Outlook

Employment of audiologists is expected to grow by 25 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.  Hearing loss is strongly associated with aging, so as the elderly population grows, so will the number of people with hearing impairments.  Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants will also increase the need for audiologists.  Employment in educational services will increase along with growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students.

Aptitudes

  • Ability to learn chemical properties and compounding of drugs
  • Good science and verbal skill to read technical materials and advise others
  • Good communication skills to educate patients

Education

Requirements

The minimum educational requirement is a master’s degree, but a doctoral degree is becoming the standard in most 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, and ethics.  All graduate curriculums include supervised clinical practicums and externships.

Licensure is required in all 50 States.  In Nebraska, an applicant for license to practice audiology must be at least 19 years of age, have at least a master’s degree in audiology from an approved program, complete a clinical fellowship year, and pass the licensure or obtain endorsement by a nationwide professional accrediting organization.

Programs in Nebraska

Related / Links

Other careers that involve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of problems related to physical or mental health:

Professional Associations

For more information on a career in audiology:

Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Audiologists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov