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Audiologist


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Audiologist Job Description

An audiologist is a medical professional with special education and training to diagnose hearing problems and determine a course of treatment. It is estimated that one out of every five Americans over the age of 12 have some degree of hearing loss. Patients suffering profound hearing loss quickly develop a sense of isolation, as they are unable to effectively communicate with others; this pronounced need makes the field of audiology an essential one.


Audiologist Duties

  • Obtain pertinent medical history from patients
  • Examine patients suffering from hearing or balance issues
  • Diagnose problems and determine a course of treatment
  • Fit patients with hearing aids or cochlear implants if necessary
  • In cases of profound deafness, provide education and counseling to families on locating appropriate education for the hearing-impaired
  • Provide follow up care as necessary


How To Become An Audiologist

In order to become an audiologist, the candidate must obtain a bachelor’s degree and then obtain a doctoral degree in audiology. It is then necessary to pass a licensing examination.


How Long Does it Take To Become An Audiologist?

Becoming an audiologist requires a minimum of eight years of post-high school education.


Education Requirements

Audiologists are required to hold a doctoral degree in audiology. To earn this degree, the candidate must have a high school diploma or equivalent, a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral degree in audiology. 


A candidate who wishes to become an audiologist must have a high school diploma or similar. They must then pursue an undergraduate degree to earn a bachelor’s degree; such education typically takes four years to complete. Although the bachelor’s degree does not have to be in any one particular field, seeking a degree with an emphasis on speech and hearing, biology or linguistics may ultimately be of assistance in actual practice later. 

After completing the undergraduate degree, the candidate must enter a graduate program to obtain a doctoral degree in audiology, called an Au.D.; this portion of the educational process takes four years to complete. The graduate work will include courses in such areas as physiology, diagnosis and treatment of hearing problems, anatomy, and abnormal communication development. The graduate program will also include clinical practice, which will provide the candidate with valuable experience and training in the field.


Certification

An audiologist can obtain a certification of clinical competence in audiology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing association. Some employers may require certification. 

It is advisable for audiologists to remain current on changes in the industry, especially in the realm of hearing aid development and improvements. For example, the development of the cochlear implant allowed for huge advances for certain patients suffering from hearing loss. This device is implanted in the skin behind the ear, and enables the patient to receive and process sounds that could not be detected prior to the surgery.


Licensing

All audiologists are required to be licensed, with the requirements for such varying from state to state.


Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in the field of audiology to increase by 37% between 2010 and 2020. Although this is a large percentage, since audiology is a small specialty, this will result in approximately 4800 new jobs during that period of time.

Reasons for the increase in expected job opportunities is due to the general aging population in the United States. The likelihood of hearing loss increases as a person ages, which will lead to a need for more audiologists. As society becomes more focused upon early intervention, it may also lead to an increased need for audiologists who can perform tests on infants and young children in order to detect and address hearing issues early. There will also be an increase in the need for audiologists who undertake research to develop better hearing aids and other medical devices that may enable people suffering from hearing loss to enhance their hearing ability. Detailed audiololgist salary data is available here.


States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
California $36.36 $75,640 1,560 0.11
Texas $33.05 $68,750 900 0.09
New York $47.09 $97,950 700 0.08
Illinois $37.09 $77,150 600 0.11
Florida $34.50 $71,760 550 0.08


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