The field of audiology is concerned with the evaluation, education and treatment of individuals with hearing disorders. Most employers require audiologists to have at least a master's degree in the field entailing lab work, clinical experiences, and research; some may prefer or require applicants to possess a doctorate. Audiologists must have a valid state license to practice, and voluntary certifications are useful for career advancement. Many hiring organizations prefer incoming audiologists to possess clinical experience, which may be specialized by sector, such as pediatrics. Bilingual audiology candidates or those with a working knowledge of sign language are considered more employable.
Master of Science in Audiology
At the master's degree level, future audiologists learn about the anatomy of the ear as well as common auditory and balance disorders. Some master's degree programs may also feature studies of communication disorders. Graduate students gain the skills needed to assess and treat patients of various ages and mental states. Some course topics in these programs might include:
- Auditory neuroscience
- Central auditory function
- Clinical practicum
- Basic diagnostic audiology
- Physics and acoustics for audiology
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Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)
Within a doctoral degree program, students study a number of sciences, including acoustics, pharmacology, psychology and physiology. They learn to fit individuals for hearing devices and help them adjust to changes in hearing with auditory rehabilitation techniques. Students in these programs have a chance to specialize in a specific area, such as pediatric audiology. Common course topics include the following:
- Auditory diagnostics
- Rehabilitative audiology
- Hearing conservation
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, audiologists make a mean annual wage of $77,420 as of May 2015. From 2014-2024, the employment for audiologists is expected to grow 29%. This is much faster than average, according to the BLS.
While some states require audiologists to possess a doctorate in audiology to obtain licensure, most require a minimum of a master's degree in the field. Some states may also require a separate license for audiologists who wish to dispense hearing devices. Specifics vary by state; however, continuing education is generally required across the board to maintain licensure.
Audiologists can also earn voluntary certifications through industry organizations, such as the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (www.asha.org), which offers a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology. Similar certification is also available through the American Board of Audiology (www.americanboardofaudiology.org). In order to qualify for certification, applicants must meet education and supervised work experience requirements as well as pass an exam. Certifications are valid for three years and renewable upon completion of continuing education courses.
National audiology organizations hold conventions and conferences throughout the year, which range from 1-4 days. Conventions host guest speakers, new product premieres and peer discussion groups. There are also mini-workshops, which can last for one full day and center on topics such as client relations, trends in treatments and billing compliance. Attendees can also participate in 1-2 hour seminars on one particular subject, such as audiologist ethics. Audiologists can look to organizational websites for links to informative webinars, discussion forums and relevant books. Websites may also provide individualized position reports or informative articles on specific topics, which can range from audiology techniques for diagnosing children to guidelines for treating adults.
Aspiring audiologists can seek education at the master's or doctoral level before attaining licensure, with some states requiring doctoral degrees for such certification. Audiologists can also look into voluntary certifications to boost their credentials as well as audiology conventions and conferences.