Audiologists

Summary

audiologists image
Audiologists examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems.
Quick Facts: Audiologists
2012 Median Pay $69,720 per year
$33.52 per hour
Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 13,000
Job Outlook, 2012-22 34% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 4,300

What Audiologists Do

Audiologists diagnose and treat a patient’s hearing and balance problems using advanced technology and procedures.

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.

How to Become an Audiologist

Audiologists need a doctoral degree and must be licensed in all states; requirements vary by state.

Pay

The median annual wage for audiologists was $69,720 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 34 percent from 2012 to 2022, 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.

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

Audiologists
Audiologists use specific testing equipment to measure the levels of sound a patient is able to hear.

Audiologists diagnose and treat a patient’s hearing and balance problems, using advanced technology and procedures.                 

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
  • Administer relief procedures for various forms of vertigo
  • Fit and dispense hearing aids
  • Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate, such as by lip reading or through American Sign Language
  • See patients regularly to check on hearing and balance and to continue or change the treatment plan
  • Keep records on the progress of patients
  • Conduct research related to the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders

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 volume at which a person begins to hear sounds and the person's ability to distinguish between sounds.

Before determining treatment options, they 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 in an operation. The implants deliver electrical impulses directly to the auditory nerve in the brain, so a person with certain types of deafness can hear.

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

Audiologists can help a patient suffering from vertigo or dizziness. 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 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

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

Audiologists held about 13,000 jobs in 2012. 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. Audiologists work closely with registered nurses, audiology assistants, and other healthcare professionals.

Work Schedules

Most audiologists work full time. Some work weekends and evenings to meet patients’ needs. Those who work on a contract basis may spend a lot of 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

Audiologists
Audiologists see patients regularly to check on hearing and balance and to continue or change the treatment plan.

Audiologists need a doctoral degree and must be licensed in all states; requirements vary by state.

Education

The doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.) is a graduate program typically lasting 4 years. 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. Graduate 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. Although it is not required in all cases, certification is required by some states or employers.

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 with other healthcare providers and education specialists regarding patient care.

Compassion. Audiologists work with people who are having problems with hearing or balance. They should be 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 the appropriate treatment or treatments to address them.

Pay

Audiologists

Median annual wages, May 2012

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners

$73,410

Audiologists

$69,720

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for audiologists was $69,720 in May 2012. 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 $43,820, and the top 10 percent earned more than $101,130.

Most audiologists work full time. Some may work weekends and evenings to meet patients’ needs. Those who work on a contract basis may spend a lot of time traveling between facilities.

Job Outlook

Audiologists

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Audiologists

34%

Health diagnosing and treating practitioners

20%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 34 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 4,300 new jobs over the 10-year period.

An aging baby-boom population will continue to increase the demand for most healthcare services. Hearing loss increases as people age, so an aging population is likely to increase demand for audiologists. The early identification and diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants also will 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 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, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Audiologists

29-1181 13,000 17,300 34 4,300 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

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

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
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 $97,820
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 rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries.

Doctoral or professional degree $79,860
Psychologists

Psychologists

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

See How to Become One $69,280
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, a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, or emotional problems.

Master’s degree $69,870
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, 2014-15 Edition, Audiologists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/audiologists.htm (visited September 03, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014