Everything you need to know about becoming an audiologist

Becoming an audiologist

An audiologist is a healthcare practitioner who evaluates and treats human auditory system issues. When people are experiencing hearing difficulty, they may turn to an audiologist to assess their symptoms and determine a course of treatment. 

What does an audiologist do?

Audiologists work with patients to test for and treat conditions of the ear such as hearing loss caused by damage to the ear or inherent medical conditions, chronic hearing-related problems like tinnitus, and more.

These specialists also diagnose and treat balance issues caused by the ear such as vertigo, which can occur due to calcium or wax build-up in the ear, as well as inner ear nerve damage. No matter which condition they are treating, an audiologist monitors their patients, counsels them about available treatment plans, and works to design individualized auditory rehabilitation and communication programs.

Because they often deal with people who have lost, or are losing, their ability to hear, another aspect of an audiologist’s job pertains to fitting people with hearing aids. Audiologists perform hearing evaluations and run tests to determine a person’s level of hearing loss. They work to determine which type of hearing aids will be best for their patients and assist patients in obtaining and fitting these devices. 

When hearing loss is determined to be substantial, a surgeon may need to place an internal electronic device called a cochlear implant inside of a patient’s ear. Once the surgery is completed, audiologists monitor a patient’s cochlear implants to ensure that they work correctly and determine when and if adjustments are needed.

Audiologists often also work closely with speech pathologists, intervention specialists, and otolaryngologists to collaborate on treatment plans for people experiencing problems with their auditory system. For example, pediatric audiologists specifically may work with children, their parents, and teachers to facilitate plans for learning while experiencing hearing loss.

Aside from working directly with patients in clinical settings, audiologists also work in vital roles as part of teams performing research pertaining to hearing and hearing-related disorders. In such research roles, audiologists also work to develop and design products for hearing protection or auditory testing.

How do you become an Audiologist?

All audiologists must complete a doctor of audiology (AuD) degree. While each program’s requirements are different, people who enter doctorate progams for audiologists most often first obtain an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders, but some programs will accept those with degrees with other focuses, specifically those with a science background. 

While specific requirements vary by state, each state in the U.S. requires audiologists to be licensed. Licensing is usually done through a written and practical exams, much like other state-specific healthcare certifications. Additional certifications through the American Academy of Audiology, the American Speech and Hearing Association, and the American Board of Audiology are also available to bolster an audiologist’s professional credibility and establish competency.

What skills do you need to become an Audiologist?

Because audiology is a part of the healthcare field, an expertise in human anatomy and biology — specifically of the auditory system — is crucial. Audiologists should know how to properly test hearing function, fit people for hearing aids, monitor progress, check cochlear implants for function and efficacy, and develop treatment plans.

Interacting with patients who may be experiencing hearing loss can be difficult, so patience is also a helpful skill to have. In clinical settings, audiologists often work closely with nurses and nursing assistants, so the ability to work collaboratively is also important. 

What is the average salary for an audiologist?

In 2019, the average annual salary for an audiologist was $77,600 according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Exactly how much an audiologist gets paid varies depending on their experience level, as well as where they’re located. For example, as of 2019, California is the state where the most audiologists are employed, with an average annual wage of $101,540. 

The most lucrative places of employment for this industry are within outpatient care facilities, private offices of health practitioners, and specialty hospitals, according to the BLS.

What is the typical career path for an audiologist?

Audiologists often work in hospitals, clinics, research facilities, and private practices. When entering the workforce, audiologists typically won’t start off owning their own private practice, but can work up to this over time while working for others. 

Audiologists who specialize in children’s auditory systems often work specifically in a pediatric setting. Some pediatric audiologists choose to become employed in a school setting, working with education professionals to help children who experience hearing difficulties adapt to their learning environment. 

Alternatively, an audiologist may choose to specialize in geriatric auditory systems and work mainly with elderly patients, working in nursing homes, clinics for the elderly, or long term care facilities. 

Although the majority of audiologists will work in a clinical setting, those who choose to focus on research often play an integral role in educating the public about the dangers of hearing loss. Some audiologists may even work to design hearing protection for industrial workers and others with jobs who are regularly exposed to loud, amplified sound. 

Where can you find audiologist jobs?

The BLS predicts that over the next 10 years, the employment of audiologists is expected to grow by 13%, which is faster than average for a specific occupation. This is great news for the future of the industry as a whole and those looking for work as an audiologist.

Take a look at the following jobs currently available for audiologists across the country available on Ladders Jobs:

Audiologist, Advanced Clinical Specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital – Houston, TX

Audiologist at Air Force Reserve Command – Warner Robbins, GA

Audiologist at Air Force Space Command – Montgomery, AL