Difference Between Audiologist & Hearing Instrument Specialist

Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists share some similar duties, but the training requirements are much higher for audiologists and they treat patients with a wider range of medical issues. Continue reading to compare these careers further.

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Comparing Audiologists to Hearing Instrument Specialists

Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists work with people who have hearing issues. One of the key differences between these professionals is that audiologists must have a doctoral degree, and they are qualified to diagnose patients. They also work with patients who have issues with balance.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Audiologists Doctoral Degree $75,980 (2016)* 29%
Hearing Instrument Specialists High School Diploma or GED $49,923 (2017)** 27% (for hearing aid specialists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

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  • Audiology and Hearing Sciences
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Responsibilities of Audiologists vs. Hearing Instrument Specialists

Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists may both be responsible for testing patients to determine if they've suffered hearing loss. They may also show the patient how to use hearing aids or other devices that can compensate for their hearing loss. Audiologists also treat patients with other issues related to the inner ear, which include balance problems. They are qualified to provide a medical diagnosis and they may also work with a patient's family to help them adjust to the person's medical needs. Hearing instrument specialists can sell hearing aids and other devices to patients.

Audiologists

Audiologists are required to have a doctoral degree and a license. They work with people who may be suffering from ear infections, balance problems or hearing loss. Since the patients they see may have difficulty hearing, they need to be very patient and able to find other ways to communicate clearly with their patients. Most audiologists work in medical offices or hospitals. Their schedules can include working during evening or weekends, depending on their place of employment and the needs of their clientele.

Job responsibilities of an audiologist include:

  • Performing patient examinations
  • Traveling when necessary to see patients at different locations
  • Reviewing test results
  • Diagnosing patients
  • Prescribing treatment
  • Educating people about hearing loss prevention

Hearing Instrument Specialists

Hearing instrument specialists specifically work with people who have suffered hearing loss. They do not necessarily need any formal training to enter this field. Employers require hearing instrument specialists to have a high school diploma or GED and experience in sales work or experience with medical devices may be an asset to those interested in this career field. In some states hearing instrument specialists may need to have a license. Since they work with people who have difficulty hearing they need to be patient and capable of communicating clearly.

Job responsibilities of a hearing instrument specialist include:

  • Testing patients' hearing
  • Assessing test results
  • Explaining results to patients
  • Selling hearing aids to patients
  • Teaching patients how to care for hearing aids or other equipment

Related Careers

Another career option aspiring audiologists may want to consider is becoming a speech-language pathologist, since speech-language pathologists may work with people who've experienced hearing loss and help them with their verbal communication skills. Those considering work as a hearing instrument specialist may also want to think about becoming an optometrist assistant, who can assist with performing medical tests on patients who may have issues with their vision.

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