An audiologist could...
|Select, fit, and tune digital hearing aids for people with hearing loss.||Educate airport ground crew about the importance of using ear protection on the job.|
|Examine the outer ear and ear drum to check for excessive wax or infections.||Screen newborns for hearing loss and refer affected patients to appropriate services.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||On each side of your head is the auditory system, one of the most beautifully designed organs in the human body. The auditory system not only detects sound, but is closely tied to the vestibular system, which helps a person with balance, and knowing how his or her body is moving through space. Audiologists detect, diagnose, and develop treatment plans for people of all ages who have problems with hearing, balance, or spatial positioning. This important work impacts how well a person is able to communicate and function at home, school, and work.|
|Key Requirements||Good listener, patient, compassionate, analytical and objective, with excellent communication skills, and the ability to break down complex problems into simple ideas that everyone can understand|
|Minimum Degree||Master's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Biology, physics, chemistry, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus, English; if available, computer science, physiology, statistics|
|Projected Job Growth (2010-2020)||Much Faster than Average (21% or more) In Demand!|
Training, Other Qualifications
All states require audiologists to be licensed or registered. Licensure or registration requires at least a master's degree in audiology; however, a first professional, or doctoral, degree is becoming increasingly necessary.
Education and Training
Individuals must have at least a master's degree in audiology to qualify for a job. However, a first professional or doctoral degree is becoming more common. As of early 2007, eight states required a doctoral degree or its equivalent. The professional doctorate in audiology (AuD) requires approximately 8 years of university training and supervised professional experience.
In early 2007, the Accreditation Commission of Audiology Education accredited more than 50 AuD programs and the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) accredited over 70 graduate programs in audiology. Graduation from an accredited program may be required to obtain a license in some States. Requirements for admission to programs in audiology include courses in English, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and communication. Graduate coursework 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 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 patient's progress may be slow, patience, compassion, and good listening skills are necessary.
It is important for audiologists to be aware of new diagnostic and treatment technologies. Most audiologists participate in continuing education courses to learn new methods and technologies.
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 individual's 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 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. 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 workers' hearing from on-the-job injuries. They measure noise levels in workplaces and conduct hearing protection programs in factories and 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 of, and treatment for, hearing, balance, and related disorders. Others design and develop equipment or techniques for diagnosing and treating these disorders.
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 facilities.
On the Job
- Evaluate hearing and speech/language disorders to determine diagnoses and courses of treatment.
- Administer hearing or speech/language evaluations, tests, or examinations to patients to collect information on type and degree of impairment, using specialized instruments and electronic equipment.
- Fit and dispense assistive devices, such as hearing aids.
- Maintain client records at all stages, including initial evaluation and discharge.
- Refer clients to additional medical or educational services if needed.
- Counsel and instruct clients in techniques to improve hearing or speech impairment, including sign language or lip-reading.
- Monitor clients' progress and discharge them from treatment when goals have been attained.
- Plan and conduct treatment programs for clients' hearing or speech problems, consulting with physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other health care personnel as necessary.
- Recommend assistive devices according to clients' needs or nature of impairments.
- Participate in conferences or training to update or share knowledge of new hearing or speech disorder treatment methods or technologies.
- Instruct clients, parents, teachers, or employers in how to avoid behavior patterns that lead to miscommunication.
- Examine and clean patients' ear canals.
- Advise educators or other medical staff on speech or hearing topics.
- Educate and supervise audiology students and health care personnel.
- Fit and tune cochlear implants, providing rehabilitation for adjustment to listening with implant amplification systems.
- Work with multi-disciplinary teams to assess and rehabilitate recipients of implanted hearing devices.
- Develop and supervise hearing screening programs.
- Conduct or direct research on hearing or speech topics and report findings to help in the development of procedures, technology, or treatments.
- Measure noise levels in workplaces and conduct hearing protection programs in industry, schools, and communities.
Companies That Hire Audiologists
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- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: www.asha.org
- American Board of Audiology: www.americanboardofaudiology.org
- Audiology Foundation of America: www.audfound.org
- O*Net Online. (2009). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://online.onetcenter.org/
- Kleckner, G. (2009, September). What's an Audiologist? Retrieved October 2, 2009, from http://video.yahoo.com/watch/6004659
- Ikuta, M. (2008, May 30). How can an audiologist help? Retrieved October 2, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHYqi18Llnk
- YouTube. (2009, September 18). Norah's First Cochlear Implant Activation. Retrieved October 2, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LKjEvJsVnI