Employment growth will be spurred by the expanding population
in older age groups that are prone to medical conditions that
result in hearing problems.
More than half worked in health care facilities; many others
were employed by educational services.
A masterís degree in audiology has been the standard credential;
however, a clinical doctoral degree is becoming more common
for new entrants and is expected to become the new standard
for the profession.
Nature of the Work
Audiologists work with people who have hearing, balance,
and related ear problems. They examine individuals of all
ages and identify those with the symptoms of hearing loss
and other auditory, balance, and related sensory and neural
problems. They then assess the nature and extent of the problems
and help the individuals manage them. Using audiometers, computers,
and other testing devices, they 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 individualís
daily life. In addition, audiologists use computer equipment
to evaluate and diagnose balance disorders. Audiologists interpret
these results and may coordinate them with medical, educational,
and psychological information to make a diagnosis and determine
a course of treatment.
Hearing disorders can result from a variety of causes including
trauma at birth, viral infections, genetic disorders, exposure
to loud noise, certain medications, or aging. Treatment may
include examining and 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. For example, they may provide
instruction in listening strategies. Audiologists also may
recommend, fit, and dispense personal or large area amplification
systems and alerting devices.
In audiology (hearing) clinics, audiologists may independently
develop and carry out treatment programs. They keep records
on the initial evaluation, progress, and discharge of patients.
In other settings, audiologists may work with other health
and education providers as part of a team in planning and
implementing services for children and adults, from birth
to old age. Audiologists who diagnose and treat balance disorders
often work in collaboration with physicians, and physical
and occupational therapists.
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 workersí
hearing from on-the-job injuries. They measure noise levels
in workplaces and conduct hearing protection programs in factories,
as well as in schools and communities.
Audiologists who work in private practice also manage the
business aspects of running an office, such as developing
a patient base, hiring employees, keeping records, and ordering
equipment and supplies.
A few audiologists conduct research on types ofóand treatment
foróhearing, balance, and related disorders. Others design
and develop equipment or techniques for diagnosing and treating
Audiologists usually work at a desk or table in clean, comfortable
surroundings. The job is not physically demanding but does
require attention to detail and intense concentration. The
emotional needs of patients and their families may be demanding.
Most full-time audiologists work about 40 hours per week,
which may include weekends and evenings to meet the needs
of patients. Some work part time. Those who work on a contract
basis may spend a substantial amount of time traveling between
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Audiologists are regulated in 49 States; all require that
individuals have at least a masterís degree in audiology.
However, a clinical doctoral degree is expected to become
the new standard, and several States are currently in the
process of changing their regulations to require the Doctor
of Audiology (Au.D.) degree or equivalent. A passing score
on the national examination on audiology offered through the
Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service also is needed.
Other requirements typically are 300 to 375 hours of supervised
clinical experience and 9 months of postgraduate professional
clinical experience. Forty-one States have continuing education
requirements for licensure renewal. An additional examination
and license is required in order to dispense hearing aids
in some States. Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurers
generally require practitioners to be licensed to qualify
In 2005, there were 24 masterís degree programs and 62 clinical
doctoral programs offered at accredited colleges and universities.
Graduation from an accredited program may be required to obtain
a license. Requirements for admission to programs in audiology
include courses in English, mathematics, physics, chemistry,
biology, psychology, and communication. Graduate course work
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.
Audiologists can acquire the Certificate of Clinical Competence
in Audiology (CCC-A) offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association. To earn a CCC, a person must have a graduate
degree and 375 hours of supervised clinical experience, complete
a 36-week postgraduate clinical fellowship, and pass the Praxis
Series examination in audiology, administered by the Educational
Testing Service. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association, as of 2007, audiologists will need to have a
bachelorís degree and complete 75 hours of credit toward a
doctoral degree in order to seek certification. As of 2012,
audiologists will have to earn a doctoral degree in order
to be certified.
Audiologists may also be certified through the American Board
of Audiology. Applicants must earn a masterís or doctoral
degree in audiology from a regionally accredited college or
university, achieve a passing score on a national examination
in audiology, and demonstrate that they have completed a minimum
of 2,000 hours of mentored professional practice in a two-year
period with a qualified audiologist. Certificants must apply
for renewal every three years. They must demonstrate that
they have earned 45 hours of approved continuing education
within the three-year period. Beginning in 2007, all applicants
must earn a doctoral degree in audiology.
Audiologists should be able to effectively communicate diagnostic
test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments in a manner
easily understood by their patients. They must be able to
approach problems objectively and provide support to patients
and their families. Because a patientís progress may be slow,
patience, compassion, and good listening skills are necessary.
Audiologists held about 10,000 jobs in 2004. More than half
of all jobs were in offices of physicians or other health
practitioners, including audiologists; in hospitals; and in
outpatient care centers. About 1 in 7 jobs was in educational
services, including elementary and secondary schools. Other
jobs for audiologists were in health and personal care stores,
including hearing aid stores; scientific research and development
services; and State and local governments.
A small number of audiologists were self-employed in private
practice. They provided hearing health care services in their
own offices or worked under contract for schools, health care
facilities, or other establishments.
Employment of audiologists is expected to grow about as fast
as the average for all occupations through the year 2014.
Because hearing loss is strongly associated with aging, rapid
growth in older population groups will cause the number of
persons with hearing and balance impairments to increase markedly.
Medical advances are also improving the survival rate of premature
infants and trauma victims, who then need assessment and possible
treatment. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification
and diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants also will increase
employment. Most States now require that all newborns be screened
for hearing loss and receive appropriate early intervention
Employment in educational services will increase along with
growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including
enrollment of special education students. The number of audiologists
in private practice will rise due to the increasing demand
for direct services to individuals as well as increasing use
of contract services by hospitals, schools, and nursing care
Growth in employment of audiologists will be moderated by
limitations on insurance reimbursements for the services they
provide. Additionally, increased educational requirements
may limit the pool of workers entering the profession and
any resulting higher salaries may cause doctors to hire more
lower paid ear technicians to perform the functions that audiologists
held in doctorís offices. Only a few job openings for audiologists
will arise from the need to replace those who leave the occupation,
because the occupation is small.
Median annual earnings of audiologists were $51,470 in May
2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,160 and $62,210.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,990, and the highest
10 percent earned more than $75,990.
According to a 2004 survey by the American Speech-Language-Hearing
Association, the median annual salary for full-time certified
audiologists who worked on a calendar-year basis, generally
11 or 12 months annually, was $56,000. For those who worked
on an academic-year basis, usually 9 or 10 months annually,
the median annual salary was $53,000. The median starting
salary for certified audiologists with one to three years
of experience was $45,000 on a calendar-year basis.
Audiologists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and
treatment of hearing problems. Workers in related occupations
include occupational therapists, optometrists, physical therapists,
psychologists, recreational therapists, rehabilitation counselors,
and speech-language pathologists.
Sources of Additional Information
State licensing boards can provide information on licensure
requirements. State departments of education can supply information
on certification requirements for those who wish to work in
General information on careers in audiology is available