Career Path Options for an Audiologist

The average value of the Doctorate degree needed to become a Audiologists is $1,288,531.00.

SIGNIFICANT POINTS

About 64% of all United States audiologists work in healthcare facilities. – A significant minority of audiologists work in schools or are employed by educational services. – Every state in the United States regulate the licensure of audiologists, but the requirements vary by each state. – The minimum required educational level is a master’s degree in audiology. – A doctoral degree is becoming a more common requirement for new audiologists. – Job prospects are more favorable for those with a doctoral (Au.D.) degree.

NATURE OF WORK

audiologists

An audiologist performs examinations of people who are experiencing hearing or balance problems, or who are having some other problem with their ears. The individuals being examined could be of any age, from infants to the elderly. A person’s ears not only provide a person’s sense of hearing, but also provide a sense of balance with those tiny chambers within the ears that are sensitive to movement and to other external stimuli, like gravity. Examinations Done by Audiologists The purpose of these exams by audiologists is to identify people who are experiencing either hearing loss or balance problems (or both), evaluate the symptoms, and determine the sensory or neural disorder that is at the root of the symptoms.

With the use of computers, audiometers, and several other testing devices, the audiologist measures the loudness level at which a person can begin to hear sounds, and the person’s ability to distinguish between different types of sounds. The audiologist also evaluates what the scope and extent of the daily impact of a hearing loss may be upon the person with the symptoms. An audiologist then analyzes all this data to assess the extent and nature of the individual’s problems, and begins to determine a course of action to be taken to remedy those problems.

Balance Problems – In addition to diagnosing and treating hearing problems, audiologists evaluate, diagnose, and treat balance disorders. Audiologists make use of computer equipment to record data about the balance problem, and then interpret those results, and use the medical, psychological, and social information collected in order to coordinate the action to be taken, usually a specific course of treatment.

Causes and Treatments – A hearing disorder can result from many causes: – trauma at birth – genetic disorders – viral infections – aging – exposure to loud noise – prescription medications – over-the-counter medications Among the possible treatments, an audiologist may: – examine and clean the ear canal – fit and dispense hearing aids – program and fit cochlear implants (computerized hearing aids that connect directly to the brain) – counsel patients to help them adjust to a hearing loss – train a patient on the use of hearing aids – teach communication and listening strategies for those who cannot hear – fit and dispense personal amplification systems – fit and dispense large-area amplification systems and alerting devices.

Work Settings – An audiologist working in a clinic may develop and implement treatment programs independently, while, in other settings, audiologists may work on a team providing treatment. It should be mentioned that an audiologist in a clinic is responsible for record-keeping on patients, including information on visits, evaluations, progress and discharge.

Audiologists working with patients who have balance disorders are also likely to be working in collaboration with physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physicians. Some audiologists may focus on treatment only of children, the elderly, or individuals with hearing impairments that require special treatment. Other audiologists may specialize in workplace hearing protection, such as noisy factories or assembly lines, in order to save workers from hearing loss due to excessive on-the-job sound levels — these audiologists conduct noise level measurements, and conduct hearing protection programs.

An audiologist in private practice must manage all the business aspects inherent in running an office, including such items as finding business space, hiring and supervising employees, ordering supplies and equipment, developing a base of patients, and keeping business records. Some audiologists may work in research facilities where work is done investigating the types of hearing loss, possible causes, and potential treatments for hearing loss and balance disorders. Work may also be done in these facilities to design and develop techniques or equipment that may be of use in treating hearing loss and balance disorders. Work environment An audiologist works most often at a table or desk in surroundings that are clean and comfortable.

The job itself is not physically demanding, but it does require focus, concentration, and great attention to detail. An audiologist will have to meet the emotional needs of patients who are suffering from medical problems that disrupt their lives, and must be compassionate and understanding. A full-time audiologist will work about 40 hours per week, which may include evenings and weekends because of the needs of the patients. Travel time may also be substantial for those audiologists who work on a contract basis at different facilities and must travel among them to meet work schedules and patient appointments.

TRAINING, OTHER QUALIFICATIONS, AND ADVANCEMENT



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All states in the United States regulate the licensing of audiologists, but the requirements will vary state by state. At a minimum, an audiology master’s degree is needed to get any state license, but it is increasingly becoming necessary to get a doctoral degree in audiology. Education and Training Anyone who wishes to pursue a career in audiology should pursue a doctoral degree. As of 2009, eighteen states in the United States require a doctoral degree in audiology (or the equivalent) in order practice audiology in those states.

A doctoral program in audiology results in a graduate degree, which usually takes four years to achieve — the designation for this degree is Au.D. Doctoral Programs In order to enter a doctoral program in audiology, an applicant must have taken college courses in physics, chemistry, math, biology, English, communication, and psychology, resulting in a bachelor’s degree of some type. Once entered into a graduate program, a student in audiology will be taking classes in physiology, anatomy, genetics, physics, ethics, and pharmacology — within the audiology specialty, a student will take courses in diagnosis and treatment of auditory problems, normal and abnormal development of communication skills in human beings, and assessment and treatment techniques for balance systems, auditory systems, and neural systems.

An audiology graduate curriculum will also include clinical practice under supervision, and externships in various businesses and enterprises in which an audiologist might work. Accreditation The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) contains a department called the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA), whose purpose is to accredit educational programs in audiology at a graduate level. As of 2009, CAA had accredited seventy audiology doctoral programs in the United States. A graduate doctoral degree from a CAA accredited education program is required by some states in order to obtain professional credentialing and a license to practice audiology in those states.

Licensure and certification Licensure for audiologists is regulated in all fifty states; of those, eighteen require that an audiologist must have a doctoral degree in order to receive licensure. In some states, the regulation of the practice of audiology and the dispensing of hearing aids are treated separately, meaning that some states may require a Hearing Aid Dispenser license in addition to the license to practice audiology. Also, many states require continuing education for audiologists in order for them to receive a license renewal.

The requirements for eligibility, for dispensing of hearing aids, and for continuing education requirements vary in every state in the United States. Contact your own state’s health agency or medical board for the specific requirements relevant to your state. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) for audiologists to earn through exams; an audiologist can also be credentialed through the American Board of Audiology. Some requirements of some state’s licensure programs for audiologists may be satisfied by these types of professional credentialing.

Other qualifications An audiologist must be able to communicate test results, diagnosis results, and any proposed treatments in a way that will be easily understood by patients. An audiologist must possess an objective approach to problems, yet still be able to provide compassionate support to patients and families. Compassion, patience, and good listening skills must be a part of any audiologist’s skill-set, in order to deal with the necessarily slow progress of a patient through a treatment program An audiologist must constantly be aware of new treatment and diagnostic technologies in the field of audiology.

One way to accomplish this requirement for understanding new and useful methods and equipment is a continuing education program. Advancement With more experience in the practice of audiology, an audiologist can move from being an company-employed audiologist to opening a private practice. Also, an audiologist in a hospital or clinic work environment can advance into supervisory and management positions.

Employment

In 2008, there were about 12,800 audiologists in the United States. Healthcare facilities (physicians offices, outpatient care centers, and hospitals) employed about 64% of those working audiologists. 14% of the audiology jobs were in educational settings (colleges, secondary schools, and primary schools). A small number of jobs for audiologists were in drug stores, and in local and state governments. JOB OUTLOOK Employment growth is projected to be much greater than average. But, because of the small size overall of this occupation, very few job openings are expected in existing facilities — most audiology openings will be in new facilities.

Job prospects are most favorable for those who have the advanced doctoral Au.D. degree. Employment change. For the next decade (2008-2018), audiologist employment is expected to grow 24%, much more than average of all occupations. Because hearing loss is associated with aging, the increased size of older population groups will cause more people with hearing loss and balance impairments, increasing the need for audiologists. Infants who may have died in years past will now survive due to medical advances , and these infants will likely need identification of hearing and balance problems, and, possibly, treatment.

A stronger awareness of the need to treat hearing loss in infants will result in a greater demand for audiologists. Also, technological advances, with such items as digital hearing aids, will drive a greater demand for those devices that can dramatically improve hearing. Those who already have analog hearing aids will want to switch to the higher-quality digital hearing aids, and those who are in need of hearing aids for the first time will like the smaller size. All these increases in the demand for hearing improvement services will create a greater demand for audiologists. As enrollments increase in primary schools and in secondary schools, and with general population growth and the inclusion of more special education students in school populations, the need for audiologists will increase.

A moderation on the growth of employment numbers for audiologists may occur because of reimbursement limitations set by third-party payers for the audiology services and tests covered by contracts. Job prospects. Job prospects will be most favorable for those audiologists who have a Au.D. degree. There will not be many job openings in the near future for audiologists except for the companies that need to replace those audiologists retiring or leaving the profession. There may be greater demand for audiologists in areas of the country with large populations of the elderly and of retirees — any audiologist willing to relocate to new areas will have good job prospects.

PROJECTIONS

In projections for the period from 2008-2018, based on the US data from the National Employment Matrix Occupational Title Survey, the growth of employment for audiologists (SOC code 29-1121) is estimated to grow by 25%.

EARNINGS

In May 2008, the median annual salary of audiologists in the US was $62,030 in May 2008. 50% earned salaries between $50,470 and $78,380. The lowest 10% had salaries less than $40,360; the highest 10% had salaries of more than $98,880.

WAGES

In the US as of May 2008, audiologists, in those industries with the highest levels of employment for audiologists, earned the following annual salaries: – Physicians offices: $65,780 – Offices of other health practitioners: $71,330 – Drug stores: $62,430 – Hospitals: $70,970 – Elementary and secondary Schools: $64,740

RELATED OCCUPATIONS

Audiologists treat hearing problems — other workers who treat other health problems are: – Occupational therapists – Optometrists – Psychologists – Physical therapists – Speech and language pathologists

SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2200 Research Boulevard Rockville, Maryland 20850 Internet: http://www.asha.org For information on the Au.D. degree, contact: Audiology Foundation of America 8 North 3rd Street / Suite 301 Lafayette, Indiana 47901 Internet: http://www.audfound.org

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