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What do you want to become?
How to Become an Audiologist
Alternate Career Titles:
Doctor of Audiology, AuD, Certified Audiologist
Audiologist Job Description: Audiologists assess, diagnose, manage and treat patients with hearing, balance or ear problems.
Audiologist Salary (Annual): $77,600
Audiologist Salary Range: $54,010 to $120,750
How Long To Become an Audiologist: 8 years
Audiologist Requirements: Doctor of Audiology Degree
Become an Audiologist
An Audiologist is a healthcare professional who examines patients with hearing, balance or ear related issues. After the examination, Audiologists will analyze the findings, come to a diagnosis and determine what treatments, if any, are necessary. From there, these professionals will provide treatment plans, counsel patients on hearing loss and evaluate patients regularly to determine if the treatment plan is working.
Typically, interventions may include fitting patients for hearing aids, providing exercises to help improve conditions such as tinnitus and prescribing cochlear implants. Regardless of the treatment plan, Audiologists keep careful records for all their patients including initial diagnoses, treatment interventions and patient progress.
“Audiology is very rewarding because we get to help people hear and communicate better,” Marie Vetter, Au.D., an Audiologist practicing in Illinois, said. “We also help patients have a better quality of life and remain active. Audiology has a wide scope of practice, which helps with burnout and allows professionals to work in a variety of settings.”
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Education & Training
To become an Audiologist, people must first complete a Bachelor’s Degree. Ideally, this degree should in a science field. Next, he or she must apply and be accepted into a four year Doctoral Degree in Audiology (Au.D.) which is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation. During this advanced degree program, students will receive instruction in pharmacology, diagnosis and treatment, anatomy, physiology, genetics, physics, ethics, communication development and more. These doctoral degree programs include supervised clinical practice.
Upon completing this advanced degree students must take and past a national exam. Finally graduates must meet state licensure requirements. Note, these requirements vary by state. By passing further exams, additional Certificates of Clinical Competence in Audiology are offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
“To become an Audiologist, obtaining an AuD, meaning Doctor of Audiology is required and takes three to four years after a bachelor’s degree to obtain,” Vetter confirmed. “There are many programs nationwide, but the class sizes are usually pretty small.”
To advance in this career in healthcare, one must establish and open a private practice. However, when running a private practice, Audiologists tend to take on many more business and administrative roles alongside their patient care responsibilities. If opening a private practice does not seem ideal, another way to advance is taking on more leadership roles in the current workplace. These roles can include supervising other Audiologists and staff members or simply being responsible for an increased workload or more hours.
“Audiology is a pretty low-stress job and all Audiologists that work together are required to have the same credentials and skills,” Vetter explained. “You can take special CEUs to become specialized in one field. Years spent working in the field will also allow for more seniority and advancement.”
Experience & Skills
As a Certified Audiologist, critical thinking skills are imperative! When testing a patient’s hearing or balance an AuD must be able to determine the source of the problem and the best method of treatment. If one plan does not prove effective, Audiologists must think critically to determine an alternative treatment plan.
These professionals should be problem solvers, capable of figuring out the most complicated of ear or balance related symptoms. Furthermore, they should be excellent communicators, enabling them to relay information to patients and healthcare professionals as needed. Learn about other speech language and hearing careers today!
“An Audiologist should be a people person who listens,” Vetter noted. “They should be someone who likes technology and who is also is patient, kind, likes helping people and likes to solve problems.”
“I would say an AuD should have a personality that is caring, patient, positive and motivated,” Vetter stressed.
He or she must be dedicated to patients and genuinely want to help them improve audiology related health conditions. Audiologists should be extremely patient, capable of providing certain patients with more time and attention than others, when needed. Additionally, these professionals must be organized and detail oriented, ensuring all information regarding a patient is properly documented and prescriptions are accurate.
The majority of Audiologists are employed full time and 20 percent are recorded to work more than 40 hours per week. To meet patient needs, some Audiologists must work evenings or weekend hours, and depending on their employer they may be required to travel between multiple facilities operated within a particular network.
“Certified Audiologists work in different settings so the lifestyle really depends on where you work,” Vetter noted. “In general, Audiologists tend to work Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm. There is seeing patients and report/chart writing. If you work in a hospital you may be involved in surgery or working with a cleft palate or cochlear implant team or seeing vestibular patients. In private practice, you may work different hours and even be the owner.”
Now is a great time to take the first step toward a rewarding career as an AuD! Over the next decade this career is projected to grow 16 percent, a rate much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth can largely be attributed to an aging baby-boom population who are now requiring increased audiologic services to advance early detection techniques.
Most Audiologists are employed by the offices of Family Physicians and Pediatricians, or by the offices of Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Audiologists. Other professionals in this field may also find employment through state, local or private hospitals, educational services or may choose to be self employed. Some also commit to traveling between multiple facilities. States with the highest employment in this occupation are New York, California, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania.
“Audiologists are definitely needed especially as the population ages,” Vetter said. “Hearing loss and tinnitus is the number one disability in the military so the Veterans Association is always a good place to look for employment. Indeed.com, audiology websites, or word of mouth are the best ways to find employment.”
The median annual wage for Audiologists is $77,600, and while the lowest 10 percent is recorded to earn less than $54,010 annually, the highest earning 10 percent makes more than $120,750. The top paying employers of Audiologists are hospitals, the offices of Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists, educational services and the offices of Physicians. The top paying state for this occupation is North Dakota, followed by the District of Columbia, Illinois, Oregon and New Jersey.
“Audiologists make a comfortable salary but that does depend on geography, and some will make more than others,” Vetter shared. “Private practice audiology owners or department heads will also typically make more money.”
Unions, Groups and Associations
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is an organization dedicated to making effective communication a human right, accessible and achievable for all. In achieving this, the organization is empowering and supporting Audiologist, Speech-Language Pathologists and Hearing Scientists through advancing science, setting standards, fostering excellence in professional practice and advocating for participating members.
The International Society of Audiology (ISA) is an organization designed to facilitate the knowledge, protection and rehabilitation of human hearing. The ISA strives to meet this goal through advocating for professionals, publishing information and promoting research.
The Association of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) is an organization designed to foster and support the professional dispensing of hearing aids by qualified audiologists in rehabilitative practices. The organization also offers programming and support to those audiologists and students who are or who desire to be autonomous practitioners in whatever setting they choose to practice.
- Pursue an undergraduate degree, ideally in communicative disorders
- Shadow an Audiologist
- Apply to a CAA accredited AuD graduate program
- Pass the national exam
- Network with industry professionals
- Seek mentorship
All statistics are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Meet the professional: Marie Vetter, Au.D.
Practice: Chicago Hearing Services
Location: Chicago, IL
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Network! Find a good mentor so they can help lead you into a successful career.”
What’s the number one mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“Some professionals think they want to pursue audiology, but want all the glorious patients and don’t realize some of the headache and gopher work that may be required in this career. Making a good salary does not happen overnight, and motivation and drive are required.”
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“What if I don’t want to prescribe hearing aids or what if my role in fitting hearing aids go away due to advancing technologies? What else can I do?”
Why did you choose to become an Audiologist?
“I stumbled upon audiology while getting my Bachelor’s Degree. I really like that I get to spend time with patients, and have a direct impact on their livelihood. My grandfather had hearing loss which also made me interested in this profession. I liked that I could have a great work and life balance.”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
“I was told early on in my career that I have a great bedside manner, and I think that this has been part of my success. I also had great mentors that I listened to and I took their advice to heart. I make sure that my patients feel important, while providing them with education to empower them.”
*Credentialing organization: The Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education