Audiologists are specialists in hearing health care and provide diagnostic and rehabilitative services to individuals with hearing problems. Specifically, audiologists specialize in the prevention, detection, assessment, and rehabilitation of hearing disorders.
Many audiologists fit and dispense hearing aids and give instructions on the use and care of hearing aids. In addition, many are also involved in programs which monitor and help prevent noise induced hearing loss. Audiologists also coordinate newborn hearing screening programs to identify hearing impairment at an early age.
Audiologists examine patients to diagnose and treat hearing, balance and related ear problems such as vertigo or dizziness. Using specialized equipment, they work to determine the extent of hearing impairment, identify the underlying cause and then determine the appropriate treatment. Fitting and dispensing hearing aids is one of their most common responsibilities. They will also counsel patients and their families on ways to adapt to hearing loss, such as by learning to lip read or by using American Sign Language.
Important part of the health care team
Some audiologists specialize in working with the elderly or with children. Others design products to help protect hearing (for example, people working in jobs around high sound levels). Most work in health care facilities, such as hospitals, physicians' offices, and clinics. Some work in schools. Audiologists work closely with registered nurses, audiology assistants, and other health care professionals.
To enter the field, a doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.) is required. Training includes supervised clinical practice. Audiologists must be licensed in all states. Graduation from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation is required to get a license in most states; requirements vary by state.
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.
Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 34 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, only a relatively limited number of new positions will become available over the 10-year period.
Hearing loss increases as people age, so an aging population is likely to increase demand for audiologists. The early identification and diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants and children also will spur employment growth.
Source: the Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Department of Labor.