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What Audiologists Do About this section

Audiologists
Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat patients who have hearing, balance, or related problems.

Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat patients who have hearing, balance, or related problems.

Duties

Audiologists typically do the following:

  • Examine patients who have conditions related to the outer, middle, or inner ear
  • Assess the results of the examination and diagnose problems
  • Create treatment plans to meet patients’ goals
  • Provide care for routine procedures, such as testing
  • Fit and dispense hearing aids and other assistive listening devices
  • Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate, such as by lip reading or through technology
  • Evaluate patients regularly to monitor their condition and modify treatment plans, as needed
  • Record patient progress
  • Research the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders
  • Educate patients on ways to prevent hearing loss

Audiologists diagnose conditions such as hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear). They use a variety of devices to identify the extent and underlying cause of hearing loss. For example, with audiometers they measure the volume and frequency at which a person hears.

Treatment depends on the type and severity of a patient’s hearing loss and may range from cleaning wax out of ear canals to fitting and checking hearing aids. (Audiologists’ ability to diagnose as well as treat patients distinguishes their work from that of hearing aid specialists.) Audiologists work with physicians and surgeons treating patients whose hearing may be improved with cochlear implants, small devices that are surgically embedded near the ear to deliver electrical impulses to the auditory nerve.

Audiologists also counsel patients and their families on adapting to hearing loss, such as through use of technology, and may refer them to resources and other support.

In addition to their work related to hearing conditions, audiologists help patients who have vertigo or other balance problems. For example, they may demonstrate exercises involving head movement or positioning to relieve some symptoms.

Some audiologists work with specific age groups, such as older adults or children. Other audiologists may fit patients for products that help protect their hearing on the job.

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 13,700 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of audiologists were as follows:

Offices of physicians 26%
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 24
Hospitals; state, local, and private 15
Educational services; state, local, and private 10

Some audiologists, such as those contracted by a school system, travel between multiple facilities. Audiologists may work closely with other healthcare specialists, including audiology assistants (a type of medical assistant), physicians and surgeonsregistered nurses, and speech-language pathologists.

Work Schedules

Most audiologists work full time. Some work weekends and evenings to meet patients' needs.

How to Become an Audiologist About this section

Audiologists
Audiologists must be licensed in all states.

Audiologists typically need a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) degree to enter the occupation. All states require audiologists to be licensed.

Education

Audiologists need a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) degree, which typically takes 4 years to complete. To enter an Au.D. program, students need a bachelor’s degree.

Au.D. coursework includes anatomy and physiology, diagnosis and treatment, and statistics. Students also complete supervised clinical practice.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Audiologists must be licensed in all states. Requirements vary by state but typically include having earned an Au.D. from an accredited program. For specific requirements, contact your state’s licensing board for audiologists.

Audiologists may earn other credentials, such as certificates or certifications offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Board of Audiology. These credentials usually require completion of an accredited doctor of audiology program and passing an exam. Some employers may require or prefer that candidates have certification or a certificate, and in some states having the credential can help to meet licensure requirements.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Audiologists need to convey information, including test results and proposed treatments, so that patients understand their diagnosis and options.

Compassion. Audiologists should be empathetic and supportive of their patients, who may be frustrated because of their hearing or balance problems.

Critical-thinking skills. In order to propose the best treatment options, audiologists must concentrate when testing a patient’s hearing and in analyzing the results.

Interpersonal skills. Audiologists often collaborate with other healthcare providers regarding patient care.

Patience. Audiologists work with patients who may have communication difficulties and need extra time or attention.

Problem-solving skills. Audiologists must figure out the causes of hearing or balance problems and determine appropriate treatment options. They also must be able to propose alternatives if patients do not respond to initial treatment.

Pay About this section

Audiologists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Healthcare diagnosing or treating practitioners

$81,270

Audiologists

$78,950

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for audiologists was $78,950 in May 2021. 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 $58,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,210.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for audiologists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $94,690
Educational services; state, local, and private 79,170
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 78,070
Offices of physicians 78,070

Most audiologists work full 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 2020-30

Audiologists

16%

Healthcare diagnosing or treating practitioners

12%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 800 openings for audiologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Because audiologists is a small occupation, the fast growth is expected to result in only about 2,100 new jobs over the decade.

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.

Employment projections data for audiologists, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Audiologists

29-1181 13,700 15,800 16 2,100 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information on state-specific licensing requirements, contact the state’s licensing board.

For more information about audiologists, including requirements for certification and state licensure, visit

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

American Academy of Audiology

For more information about accredited audiology programs, visit

Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE)

Council on Academic Accreditation

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