According to Audiologist.org, an audiologist is a professional that diagnoses and treats hearing and balance issues. This is a very basic definition. If you’re considering becoming an audiologist, as a career, you need more information than a basic definition.
An audiologist will be trained to diagnose, treat, and manage hearing and balance issues. They will help those dealing with these types of issues from birth all the way through adulthood. If you want to help people in this manner, this may be a great career for you.
You should better understand the job duties of an audiologist before choosing this career path. Let’s look at the job duties, along with the steps you need to take to become an audiologist.
Job Duties of an Audiologist
You will have plenty of responsibilities if you become an audiologist. Most will require you to work directly with patients. Some of the many job duties will include:
- Examining and screening patients for symptoms of a hearing issue
- Conducting hearing tests
- Diagnosing hearing and ear conditions
- Creating a treatment plan to help prevent, counter, or minimize hearing loss for patients
- Cleaning or removing obstructions from a patient’s ear canal
- Prescribing hearing aids, along with fitting them for the patient
- Working with other medical professionals for implementation of cochlear implants
- Educating patients on how to care for their hearing devices and operate them
- Providing information to patients about how they can protect their hearing
- Tracking the progress of patients
- Learning and monitoring new developments in the field including treatments
These job duties and many others may be a part of your day-to-day work as an audiologist.
Steps to Become an Audiologist
Step #1 – Get the Right Education
If you want to become an audiologist, you will need to do well in math and science in high school. Taking AP or honors courses can help. It’s also a good idea to score very high on the SAT or ACT. The right test prep courses can help with both AP courses and the SAT or ACT.
After high school, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree and go on to get a doctoral degree in audiology. This will take you several years to complete, but it’s required for this type of career.
Step #2 – Gain Experience
you will need to gain practical experience working under an audiologist to get your license. This is usually a part of your graduate studies and will help you gain hands-on experience in this field.
Step #3 – Get Your State License
You will need to meet the necessary requirements to get your state license. As an audiologist, you will need a medical license. This license will come from the state you plan to work in. Make sure you meet the requirements for licensing.
Step #4 – Get Certified
While you may not need professional certifications, they can help you gain employment. The American Board of Audiology offers the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A). this certification will help show that you have gained advanced training and knowledge in your field.
Types of Hearing Issues Audiologists Treat
1. Hearing Loss
Most of the time, audiologists will work with patients suffering from hearing loss. this may be caused due to aging, congenital hearing loss, or a traumatic injury. You will likely treat patients with some hearing loss and help them to prevent more loss.
2. Balance Issues
While it doesn’t seem like a hearing issue, balance has quite a bit to do with hearing. The equilibrium is managed within the inner ear. Patients dealing with balance issues will often see an audiologist.
You will treat them based on any inner ear issue they may have causing the balance issue. A treatment plan may help the patient gain back coordination.
Another very common hearing issue treated by an audiologist is tinnitus. This issue is also called ringing in the ears. Mild tinnitus can be irritating, but intense tinnitus can cause major issues.
It can be triggered by loud noises, dirty ear canals, anxiety, disease, infections, and more. As an audiologist, you can help patients with tinnitus.
Necessary Skills to become an Audiologist
If you want to become an audiologist, you need the right skills. You will gain the necessary medical knowledge and training along the way, but other skills you should also work to develop.
Strong communication skills will be necessary for this position. You will spend quite a bit of time working directly with patients. Being able to clearly communicate with them will make a difference in how successful you are as an audiologist.
Empathy is also important, along with friendliness. These may not be actual skills, but they will make you a better audiologist. Work on showing compassion for your patients and always provide a friendly environment for them. Most people don’t enjoy going to any type of doctor, so a friendly environment is helpful.
You will also need to have patience and develop your ability to be a critical thinker. As an audiologist, you have to think through things from multiple angles to help your patients. It’s necessary to be patient, but also to know how to think through the diagnosis.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an Audiologist
How much can I make as an audiologist?
When you enter into a career as an audiologist, you can earn about $75K per year, on average, according to Indeed.com. Top employers will pay much higher and some will pay above $100K per year. The location you work in will also help to determine your salary.
California and Florida are the top-paying states. Both states tend to have a higher-than-average population age, which leads to more need for audiologists. Texas is another state that tends to have higher salaries.
What type of benefits will I get as an audiologist?
It’s common for employers to offer health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, and disability insurance for audiologists. You will likely gain access to a 401(k) and some employers offer a matching program, too. Life insurance is usually a part of the benefits package, too.
In some circumstances, you may get mileage reimbursement and a flexible schedule. Relocation assistance is usually offered if you have to move for the job. It’s also common to be paid for time off when you enter into this career.
What is the work environment like for an audiologist?
Most audiologists will work in hospitals, ENT clinics, private audiology practices, or educational institutions. You will likely spend most of your time in a regular doctor’s office type of environment. Some audiologists will work from multiple locations to see more patients.
What type of hours will I work as an audiologist?
If you work for an employer, you will likely work more than 40 hours per week. Those opening a private practice can set their own schedules. Either way, it’s common to work some nights and weekends to meet the needs of patients. Regular business hours are also common for this type of career.
Will I perform any surgeries as an audiologist?
No. You will not be trained to perform any type of surgery if you become an audiologist. You also won’t have any medical authority to prescribe medication. However, you will likely work with a team of medical practitioners that can provide these treatments for patients, when necessary.
What is the difference between an audiologist and an ENT?
An ENT or ears, nose, and throat doctor will treat diseases found in these three areas of the body. Audiologists, on the other hand, only deal with hearing issues. An ENT doctor will typically not treat any type of hearing loss. Instead, they will likely refer patients to an audiologist, in this scenario.
Do I need to pass any exams to become an Audiologist?
Yes, you will need to pass multiple exams to become an audiologist. The main exam is known as the Praxis Examination. This exam is required in most states to get your audiology license. Without passing this exam, you won’t be able to work in this field. You want to make sure you’re well prepared so you can pass this exam on the first try.
Is audiology a growing field?
Yes, it’s one of the fastest-growing fields in medicine today. With the aging population, there is an anticipated need for more audiologists over the next decade. It’s predicted that this career will grow by about 16% within the next ten years. This is more than double the average of all occupations.
If you want to work with those suffering from hearing loss, becoming an audiologist is the right option for you. This is a career path you need to be well dedicated to, however. It will take quite a bit of time to become an audiologist as you will need the right training and education.
Once you complete the requirements, you can enjoy a very rewarding career with a higher-than-average salary. Use the steps above and the information in this article to follow this career path.