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Audiology

The Nature of the Work

Audiologists are specialists involved in the study of normal and impaired hearing, prevention of hearing loss, identification and assessment of hearing problems, and the rehabilitation of persons with hearing impairment. They perform services and activities which include the following:

  • Measurement of hearing ability of children and adults
  • Identification of presence and severity of hearing problems
  • Provision of aural rehabilitation including counseling about handling communication situations at home, work, and school to reduce the effects of the hearing loss
  • Sales and assessment of the benefit of amplification devices, such as hearing aids
  • Instruction in the use of a hearing aid or other assistive listening devices to a variety of listening contexts
  • Instruction in the care and maintenance of amplification and other assistive devices
  • Design of rehabilitation programs to help persons learn to identify sounds heard
  • Provision of speech (lip) reading training
  • Collaborative consultation with teams of professionals, with individuals and families or caregivers on strategies and solutions to the communication needs of a child or adult with a hearing loss
  • Administration and interpretation of screening, assessment, and diagnostic procedures such as air conduction, bone conduction, speech audiometry, acoustic imittance (impedance) tests, evoked potential tests, and electronystagmography
  • Initiation of hearing conservation programs in industry and with the public to prevent hearing impairment from occupational or environmental noise exposure
  • Consultation and expert witness testimony on environmental noise and occupational noise-induced hearing loss
  • Initiation of clinical (applied) and/or basic research related to hearing loss and its effect

In addition to diagnosing and treating hearing impairment, audiologists may use their skills to:

  • Train future professionals in colleges and universities
  • Administer or manage agencies, clinics, or private practices
  • Engage in research to study communication development disorders and design corrective and testing equipment
  • Work with medical specialists, educators, engineers, scientists, and other allied health professionals and technicians

Work Sites

Audiologists provide services and work in many different types of facilities:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Centers for the developmentally disabled
  • Private practice offices
  • Colleges and universities
  • Public and private schools
  • Industry
  • Home Health Agencies (home care)
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Health departments and commnity centers
  • State and federal government agencies
  • Research laboratories

Entry Requirements

For a career in audiology, one must have a aptitude in science and mathematics and a sincere interest in helping people. Patience, emotional stability, tact, and excellent communication skills are also essential. An audiologist must be resourceful, objective, and willing to study new techniques and electronic devices throughout his/her career.

During high school, prospective audiologists should consider a program with courses in biology, physics, mathematics and psychology. On the undergraduate level, a strong liberal arts focus is recommended with course work in speech and hearing, phonetics, semantics, linguistics, psychology, and the biological, and/or physical sciences. A program of study in audiology is not available at the undergraduate level. Typically, students obtain an undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders which provides introductory course work in audiology. Graduate education to complete a degree in audiology includes course work and practicum experiences in the nature of speech, hearing, and language disorders; measurement and evaluation of speech production; language ability and auditory processes; clinical treatment of individuals with communication disorders; and audiology instrumentation and rehabilitation.

To practice in most work settings, audiologists must hold a clinical doctorate degree (Au.D.) and become certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). In addition to the requirements of the Au.D. degree, which includes completion of academic coursework and a 12-month full-time equivalent of supervised clinical practice, the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) requires passing a national examination. Most states also require audiologists to be licensed to practice. Licensure requirements are frequently identical to ASHA and CCC standards. In some work settings, such as college teaching, research, and private practice, a Ph.D. degree is desirable.

Departmet of Labor Statistics

For the most current earnings information, working conditions and employment trends visit the website for the Department of Labor.