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How to Become Audiologist

audiologist

How to Become Audiologist

An audiologist career is one that pays fairly well, especially for a branch of medicine not fairly well known. Audiology, the science of hearing, balance and disorders related to it, is practiced by audiologists. These people would determine if a person hears the way he should and if he doesn’t, they determine the extent of hearing loss. After this, the audiologist would recommend treatments for the patient. This is basically the workup of the career of an audiologist, though they are also educated in physiology and anatomy.

[divider]Quick Facts [/divider]

  • Median Salary $66,660/year or $32.05/hour
  • Education Requirements Doctoral or Professional Degree
  • Professionals Employed 13,000
  • 10 Years Job Outlook 37%
  • 10 Years Job Growth 4,800

What is an Audiologist?

Audiologists are professionals that deal with the identification, diagnosis and study of disorders associated with the vestibular system and the auditory system of the ear. This is a specialized area of research and is an independent branch of medical science, and it requires detailed training and education to become an audiologist.

In 2015, audiologists held about 13,000 jobs. About 64% worked in doctors’ offices. And about 14% are employed in schools. Other audiologists held jobs in health care or hearing aid stores. Some worked in local and state governments, while a small number owned private practices.

Life as an audiologist includes diagnosing hearing loss levels and suggesting treatments such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, as well other responsibilities. Assisting implant programs are one of the most common job responsibilities of an audiologist. They could also organize training sessions for hearing rehab.

An audiologist identifies and assesses hearing and balance disorders and other ear problems, recommend and provide appropriate rehabilitation and management strategy required. They usually work as a member of a team of multidisciplinary specialists working on a patient. Statistical studies conducted by NHS show a whopping 16% of the population in UK with hearing problems and an increasing number of hearing impairments annually. In the US too studies have turned up similar results. Hence the requirement for trained and certified audiologists will keep rising in years to come.

An audiologist could be seen working in hospitals, though they could work in clinics, universities and ENT offices too. An audiologist career could be made easier if one is skilled in communication. Not all clients are fast learners and you should learn to be patient and understanding for their sake. You need to be sympathetic to your clients concerns and professionalism is always important. Patients would have different histories and you need to help them deal with issues that would be medically relevant.

Counseling, organization, decision-making and basic IT skills are important in becoming an audiologist. The opportunities that could present themselves in the course of an audiologist career are as follows: team managing, unit managing, mainstream healthcare managing, and teaching audiology in universities. Working weeks of less than 40 hours are typical for audiologists.

Audiologists examine people of all age groups and identify those with symptoms of hearing loss, auditory balance and related sensory and neural problems. They conduct detailed study and assess the nature and extent of problems. In the course of examination they use audiometers, computers and other medical testing devices to measure loudness at which a person starts to hear sounds, the ability to distinguish between different sounds and the impact of hearing impairment in the patient’s daily life. They make use of computerized equipment to diagnose and interpret balance disorders.

How to Become an Audiologist

Prior education in the same field is not needed to train and start an audiologist career, but it is recommended. Physics, psychology, communications, and chemistry are good introductory classes for someone who wishes to be an audiologist. You need to graduate and get your bachelor’s degree before you could start with your master’s degree to become an audiologist. As with many other professions, licensure is needed before one could practice audiology, and licensure is different from a state to another.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association or ASHA would be the one to give you your certificate. You would be permitted to take the National Examination for Audiologists after you have finished your 375 supervised hours of clinic experience in grad school and after you have completed 9 months of training as a postgraduate of the course.

How Long Does it Take to Become Audiologist?

So how does the study time to be an audiologist break down? It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. Then count on at least four more for a doctorate (Au.D.). Then add one more year of in-field training and perhaps a month to study for your exam. So a reasonable estimate is at least nine years.

Prerequisites for Audiology Graduate School

In order to be admitted to most programs you will need a minimum grade point average of 3.20 while in undergraduate school. You will also need a decent score on the Graduate Record Exam. You should be reasonably good at math and strong in science courses.

Educational Requirements to Be An Audiologist

To qualify for this job, individuals must have at least a master’s degree in audiology. However, a doctoral degree is becoming more common now. Early in 2007, 8 states have required a doctoral degree. The professional doctorate in audiology (Au.D.) requires supervised professional experience and 8 years of university training.

The Accreditation Commission of Audiology Education accredited more than 50 doctoral programs and the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech – Language Pathology accredited over 70 graduate programs in audiology in 2007. To obtain license in some states, graduation from an accredited program is required. Requirements for admission to programs in audiology include courses in mathematics, English, chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, and communication. Graduate coursework in audiology includes physiology, anatomy, genetics, physics, normal and abnormal communication development, diagnosis and treatment, auditory, balance, and neural systems assessment and treatment, pharmacology, and ethics.

Tuition Costs

Your tuition for undergraduate school will normally run around $7600 per year when paying in-state tuition, almost $12,000 per year if paying out of state tuition, and around $27,000 per year for private colleges. To these amounts you must add your living expenses. Normally graduate school tuition will run approximately one third higher than the cost of undergraduate school tuition. You may be able to reduce your costs substantially through the use of a Pell grant, scholarships, and student loans. It is also possible to work part time during most of your studies. As a graduate student, you may be able to get a job as a teaching assistant, or research assistant. If cost is an issue for you (and it is for most college students), then once you narrow down the universities you are interested in, you should discuss your financial situation with them.

Licensing Requirements

Licensing requirements in the U.S. varies from State to State, but generally they require a master’s degree in audiology as the standard pre-requisite for joining training courses accredited by the Accreditation Commission of Audiology Education before certification and licensing and registration. However, most entrants are holders of doctorate in audiology (Au.D.) as required as minimum is some States, and Au.D requires about 8 years of university training. Admission to audiology programs requires English, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and communication. Graduate coursework in audiology include diverse subjects such as anatomy, psychology, physics, genetics, communication development, auditory balance, neural systems assessment and treatment, pharmacology and ethics. The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology has granted accreditation to over 70 graduate programs in audiology.

License or certification is mandatory in all 50 States in the US, with continuing education required in 41 States for renewal. Certification may be obtained from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or American Board of Audiology as applicable to your State.

Specialization

Hearing disorders can result from variety of causes including trauma, at birth, viral infections, genetic disorders, exposure to loud noise, certain medications or aging. Certified Audiologist after examining the ear canal may recommend treatment, fit hearing aids including fitting and removal of cochlear implants. Audiologist treatment includes counseling to adjusting to partial loss in hearing, training the patients in use of hearing instruments, teaching communication strategies in different environments etc.

Audiology clinics may independently develop and carry out treatment programs or may work with other specialists. In cases of balance disorders, they work in conjunction with physicians and physical and occupational therapists. Audiologists may also specialize in working with children (pediatrics), elderly (geriatrics) or hearing impaired individuals; some specialize in work-induced hearing problems.

Continuation and License Renewal Requirements

Audiologists are regulated by registration or licensure in 50 states. Forty-one states have continuing education and licensure renewal requirements. The number of hours varies from state to state. The District of Columbia and 20 states also require audiologists to have a Hearing Aid Dispenser license to dispense hearing aids; for the 30 states, an audiologist license is all that is required to dispense hearing aids. States set standards for education, mandating a doctoral or master’s degree, along with other requirements.

Certification from professional associations in some states may satisfy all or some requirements for state licensure. Certifications can be received from two certifying parties. Audiologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology given by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The same may also be awarded through the American Board of Audiology.

Other Skills to Have as an Audiologist

Additionally, audiologists should be able to effectively explain diagnostic test results, propose treatments and diagnoses in a manner that is easy for an average person to understand. They must have the capacity to approach problems objectively and give support to the patients. Patience, compassion and a good listening skill are necessary because sometimes a patient’s progress may be slow.

As a career, audiology is definitely developing over the years. Given this scenario and considering the requirements for a more effective patient care in the future, the minimum audiologist educational requirement is to attain a doctoral degree in audiology or studies that are closely related to it. An advice to all prospective audiologists is to learn as much as you can and earn the highest qualification in audiology. This would prove critical to optimal career development.

Audiologist Salary

Generally, an audiologist makes more than $40,000 every year, depending on their clientele and where they work. Clinical audiologists make around $41,000 to $76,000 every year, with bonus and commissions reaching up to around $40,000 cumulatively. The total pay for a clinical audiologist would be around $46,000 to $87,000. Dispensing audiologists could make a total of $46,000 to $90,000 every year, with a basic pay of $38,000 to $75,000. Audiologists specializing in pediatric audiology could make $49,000 to $85,000, with bonus pays making up a minimum of $300 to a maximum of $24,000. Dispensing audiologists, therefore, are of the highest paying jobs in the field.

Most practicing audiologists work 40 hours per week and up to $64000-94000 per annum, according to survey done by the Occupational Employment Statistics. While some prefer to work in hospitals, others prefer to open their own practice. Those working in hospitals may advance to management or supervisory positions. A few opt for research and development, while a few prefer teaching assignments. For the best growth potential, it is advisable to opt for Au.D. program right from the beginning.

More females more than males are practitioners of this science, though males have relatively higher compensation. A greater part of audiologists are women, and the satisfaction rate of audiologists is relatively high compared to other jobs and professions. Los Angeles, California is a good place for audiologists, though New York and Texas are relatively good states to practice, too.

The Pros of Being an Audiologist

Some of the advantages of becoming an audiologist are the satisfaction in helping patients who have medical problems with hearing loss. It is a career for someone who not only derives satisfaction from helping the patients, but also enjoys solving problems.

Clean working conditions and high salary

The audiologists will have the advantage of working in a very comfortable and clean office environment. The average salary of an audiologist is approximately between $42,000 and $102,000. The employment rate for audiologists is expected to grow faster than other occupational fields because of the growing aging population who may have impairments to their hearing and balance.

Business opportunities

The work hours are normal, and work weeks are usually 40 hours. After gaining work experience in hospitals or clinics, some audiologists can advance to starting a private practice or specializing in the field of audiology. This can be seen in such work as specializing in pediatric audiology.

The Cons of Being an Audiologist

There are some disadvantages of becoming an audiologist as is with any career. The educational cost can be high because of the many years of education required to become an audiologist. It can be very upsetting when the general public confuses audiologists as hearing aid doctors that only deal with dispensing hearing aid products.

Long Study Period

The educational difference between a hearing aid dispenser and an audiologist is immense. It only takes two years’ experience for a high school graduate to work as a hearing aid dispenser. An audiologist is required in several states to have a doctoral degree in audiology. This takes 4 years of baccalaureate study and 3-4 years of graduate study. Then the student earns an Au.D designation, which is the doctoral degree.

Test, test & more tests

After all of this education, the audiologist also has to keep proving their credentials by taking the same test that the high school graduate takes for dispensing hearing aid products. This is where some frustration can set in for an audiologist and can be considered a con in going down this career path.

Limited job openings

There is some disadvantage in becoming an audiologist due to the long employment length of senior audiologist. They stay in the profession until retirement and the job openings become limited in Audiology for recent graduates. Sometimes, graduates will work as customer service in hearing aid stores dispensing hearing aids.

Some of the problems of limited career opportunities for struggling audiologists can be overcome by moving to locations where there the senior population is greater in numbers. These are the patients that are more likely to have problems with hearing and balance.

After examining the pros and cons of becoming an audiologist, one must decide if the career is a good choice for them. The need for a trained audiologist is an important part in the decision process because of the aging population who do experience very real needs in their hearing and balance impairments.