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Audiologist

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QUICK FACTS
Audiologist
2010 Median Pay $66,660 per year
$32.05 per hour
Entry-Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2010 13,000
Job Outlook, 2010-20 37% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2010-20 4,800

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. Most audiologists work full time.

How to Become an Audiologist

New audiologists must earn a doctoral degree to enter the practice. All audiologists must be licensed; requirements vary by state.

Pay

The median annual wage of audiologists was $66,660 in May 2010.

Job Outlook

Employment of audiologists is expected to grow by 37 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 4,800 new jobs over the 10-year period.


What Audiologists Do

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

Duties

Audiologists typically do the following:

Audiologists use audiometers, computers, and other devices to test patients' hearing ability and balance, 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. Also, before determining treatment options, they evaluate psychological information to measure the impact of hearing loss on a patient. Treatment options vary and may include cleaning wax out of ear canals, fitting and checking hearing aids, or fitting and programming 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. Cochlear 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 use American Sign Language.

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 build a client base, hire employees, keep records, order equipment and supplies, and do other tasks related to running a business.


Work Environment

Audiologists held about 13,000 jobs in 2010. Most audiologists work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, physicians' offices, and audiology clinics. Some work in schools. Although not physically demanding, the job requires attention to detail, intense concentration and critical thinking.

Work Schedules

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. For example, an audiologist who is contracted by a school system might have to travel between different school buildings to provide services.


How to Become an Audiologist

New audiologists must earn a doctoral degree to enter the practice. All audiologists must be licensed; 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 doctoral programs.

Graduate coursework in audiology 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 some states.

Licenses and Certification

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, certification may satisfy some or all of the requirements for licensure and may be required by some employers.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Audiologists work with people who are having problems with hearing or balance. They must be supportive of patients and their families.

Communication skills. Audiologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments so that patients clearly understand the situation and options. They also may need to work with other healthcare providers and education specialists regarding patient care.

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 open to providing alternatives 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 to address them.


Pay

The median annual wage of audiologists was $66,660 in May 2010. 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 $42,590, and the top 10 percent earned more than $102,210.

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

Employment of audiologists is expected to grow by 37 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 4,800 new jobs over the 10-year period. 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 the reduction of feedback and a smaller size, may make the devices more appealing as a means to minimize hearing loss, leading to more demand for the audiologists who provide hearing aids.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be favorable for audiologists with a doctoral degree. Demand may be greater in areas with large numbers of retirees, so audiologists who are willing to relocate may have the best job prospects.

Projected Employment by 2020

17,800 (37% growth from 2010)

 Search jobs for "Audiologist"


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

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