Audiologists

Summary

audiologists image
Audiologists examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems.
Quick Facts: Audiologists
2015 Median Pay $74,890 per year
$36.01 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 13,200
Job Outlook, 2014-24 29% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 3,800

What Audiologists Do

Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or ear problems.

Work Environment

Most audiologists work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, and audiology clinics. Some work in schools or for school districts and travel between facilities. Others work in health and personal care stores.

How to Become an Audiologist

Audiologists need a doctoral degree and must be licensed in all states. Requirements for licensure vary by state.

Pay

The median annual wage for audiologists was $74,890 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 29 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Hearing loss increases as people age, so the aging population is likely to increase demand for audiologists.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for audiologists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of audiologists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about audiologists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Audiologists Do About this section

Audiologists
Audiologists diagnose and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or related ear problems.

Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or related ear problems. 

Duties

Audiologists typically do the following:

  • Examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems
  • Assess the results of the examination and diagnose problems
  • Determine and administer treatment to meet patients’ goals
  • Provide treatment for tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing in the ear
  • Fit and dispense hearing aids
  • Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate, such as by lip reading or through technology
  • Evaluate patients regularly to check on hearing and balance and to continue or change the treatment plan
  • Record patient progress
  • Research the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders
  • Educate patients on ways to prevent hearing loss

Audiologists use audiometers, computers, and other devices to test patients’ hearing ability and balance. They work to determine the extent of hearing damage and identify the underlying cause. Audiologists measure the loudness at which a person begins to hear sounds and the person’s ability to distinguish between sounds and understand speech.

Before determining treatment options, audiologists evaluate psychological information to measure the impact of hearing loss on a patient. Treatment may include cleaning wax out of ear canals, fitting and checking hearing aids, or fitting the patient with cochlear implants to improve hearing. Cochlear implants are tiny devices that are placed under the skin near the ear and deliver electrical impulses directly to the auditory nerve in the brain. This allows a person with certain types of deafness to be able to hear.

Audiologists also counsel patients on other ways to cope with profound hearing loss, such as by learning to lip read or by using technology. 

Audiologists can help a patient suffering from vertigo or other balance problems. They work with patients and provide them with exercises involving head movement or positioning that might relieve some of their symptoms.

Some audiologists specialize in working with the elderly or with children. Others educate the public on hearing loss prevention. Audiologists may design products to help protect the hearing of workers on the job. Audiologists who are self-employed hire employees, keep records, order equipment and supplies, and complete other tasks related to running a business.

Work Environment About this section

Audiologists
Audiologists identify symptoms of hearing loss and other auditory, balance, and related sensory and neural disorders.

Audiologists held about 13,200 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most audiologists were as follows:

Offices of other health practitioners 25%
Offices of physicians 25
Hospitals; state, local, and private 14
Educational services; state, local, and private 12
Health and personal care stores 11

Most audiologists work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, and audiology clinics. Some work in schools or for school districts and travel between facilities. Others work in health and personal care stores. Audiologists work closely with registered nurses, audiology assistants (a type of medical assistant), and other healthcare workers.

Work Schedules

Most audiologists worked full time in 2014, although about 1 out of 3 worked part time. Some work weekends and evenings to meet patients’ needs. Those who work on a contract basis may spend time traveling between facilities. For example, an audiologist who is contracted by a school system may have to travel between different schools to provide services.

How to Become an Audiologist About this section

Audiologists
Audiologists must be licensed in all states.

Audiologists need a doctoral degree and must be licensed in all states. Requirements for licensure vary by state.

Education

The doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.) is a graduate program that typically takes 4 years to complete. A bachelor’s degree in any field is needed to enter one of these programs.

Graduate coursework includes anatomy, physiology, physics, genetics, normal and abnormal communication development, diagnosis and treatment, pharmacology, and ethics. Programs also include supervised clinical practice. Graduation from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation is required to get a license in most states.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Audiologists must be licensed in all states. Requirements vary by state. For specific requirements, contact your state’s licensing board for audiologists.

Audiologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. They also may be credentialed through the American Board of Audiology. Certification can be earned by graduating from an accredited doctoral program and passing a standardized exam. Certification may be required by some states or employers. Some states may allow certification in place of some education or training requirements needed for licensure.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Audiologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments, so patients clearly understand the situation and options. They also may need to work on teams with other healthcare providers and education specialists regarding patient care.

Compassion. Audiologists work with patients who may be frustrated or emotional because of their hearing or balance problems. Audiologists should be empathetic and supportive of patients and their families.

Critical-thinking skills. Audiologists must concentrate when testing a patient’s hearing and be able to analyze each patient’s situation, to offer the best treatment. They must also be able to provide alternative plans when patients do not respond to initial treatment. 

Patience. Audiologists must work with patients who may need a lot of time and special attention.

Problem-solving skills. Audiologists must figure out the causes of problems with hearing and balance and determine the appropriate treatment or treatments to address them.

Pay About this section

Audiologists

Median annual wages, May 2015

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners

$76,760

Audiologists

$74,890

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for audiologists was $74,890 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,450.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for audiologists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $79,420
Offices of other health practitioners 75,760
Offices of physicians 74,200
Health and personal care stores 72,020
Educational services; state, local, and private 70,690

Most audiologists worked full time in 2014, although about 1 out of 3 worked part time. Some may work weekends and evenings to meet patients’ needs. Those who work on a contract basis may spend time traveling between facilities.

Job Outlook About this section

Audiologists

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Audiologists

29%

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners

17%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 29 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only 3,800 new jobs over the 10-year period.

An aging baby-boom population and growing life expectancies will continue to increase the demand for most healthcare services. Hearing loss and balance disorders become more prevalent as people age, so the aging population is likely to increase demand for audiologists.

The early identification and diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants also may spur employment growth. Advances in hearing aid design, such as smaller size and the reduction of feedback, may make such devices more appealing as a means to minimize the effects of hearing loss. This may lead to more demand for audiologists.

Job Prospects

Demand may be greater in areas with large numbers of retirees, so audiologists who are willing to relocate may have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for audiologists, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Audiologists

29-1181 13,200 16,900 29 3,800 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of audiologists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Optometrists

Optometrists

Optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of the visual system. They also diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other disorders of the eyes. They prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses as needed.

Doctoral or professional degree $103,900
Physical therapists

Physical Therapists

Physical therapists, sometimes called PTs, help injured or ill people improve their movement and manage their pain. These therapists are often an important part of the rehabilitation, treatment, and prevention of patients with chronic conditions, illnesses, or injuries.

Doctoral or professional degree $84,020
Psychologists

Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and their environments.

See How to Become One $72,580
Speech-language pathologists

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, Parkinson’s disease, a cleft palate or autism.

Master's degree $73,410
Physicians and surgeons

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

Doctoral or professional degree This wage is equal to or greater than $187,200 per year.
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Audiologists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/audiologists.htm (visited August 28, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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Pay

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State & Area Data

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Similar Occupations

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2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.