What is an Audiologist?
Are you thinking of becoming an audiologist? What an amazing career choice!
Imagine the feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment in helping a baby with hearing loss hear its parents’ voices for the first time, identifying hearing loss in a child who is failing academically, or enabling a grandfather to hear the sweet voice of a grandchild.
Audiologists diagnose and treat a patient’s hearing and balance problems using advanced technology and procedures. The majority of audiologists work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, physicians' offices, and audiology clinics, and some work in schools.
What does an Audiologist do?
An audiologist will 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 typically do the following:
- Examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems
- Assess the results of the examination and diagnose problems
- Determine and administer treatment
- Fit and dispense hearing aids
- Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate
- Offer suggestions for communicating (such as lip reading or sign language)
- See patients regularly to check on hearing and balance
- Change treatment plans if necessary
- Keep records on the progress of patients
- Conduct research related to causes and to treatment of hearing and balance disorders
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 learning to lip-read or using sign language.
Some audiologists specialize in working with the elderly or with children (pediatric audiologist). 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.
What is the workplace of an Audiologist like?
Most audiologists work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, physicians' offices, or audiology clinics. Some work in schools. Although not physically demanding, the job requires attention to detail, intense concentration and critical thinking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I become an Audiologist?
The audiology field calls for specific personality traits and skills:
Audiologists work with patients who may be frustrated or emotional because of their hearing or balance problems. This requires that they be tactful, empathetic, and supportive of patients and their families. They need to inspire confidence and cooperation.
Audiologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments, so that patients clearly understand their situation and options. They also need to work in teams and consult with other healthcare providers regarding patient care. In some settings, they may work with engineers, scientists, and industrial consultants to develop educational programs on hearing conservation.
Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills
In some cases, patients do not respond to initial treatments. Audiologists must be able to analyze patient response, evaluate and select alternative treatment plans, and sometimes perform multiple adjustments on hearing devices.
Comfort with technology will help the audiologist operate and troubleshoot the many cutting edge technologies and instruments that are used in the field.
If you feel that the above characteristics describe you, consider as well what tends to attract people to a career in audiology:
As an aging population requires increasing hearing and balance care, the foreseeable job market for audiologists appears to be excellent.
Audiologists have a wide variety of work environments from which to choose. Not surprisingly, a majority work in traditional healthcare facilities ranging from private practices and clinics to hospitals. They are also found in schools working with children, in operating rooms monitoring neural activity during surgeries, in the military and commercial industries ensuring hearing conservation, and in academic institutions conducting research.
Great Working Conditions
Compared to many other medical and healthcare professions, audiology tends to involve less stress. The work of audiologists is certainly important, but the stakes are lower than those faced by, for example, cardiologists and oncologists. Audiologists often work regular eight-hour days and the field offers many part-time career opportunities.
Are Audiologists happy?
While we have no statistics to calculate the average happiness rate among audiologists, their job of connecting people to the world of sound would suggest a considerable degree of career satisfaction.
How long does it take to become an Audiologist?
Prospective audiologists typically dedicate eight years to post-secondary studies:
Bachelor’s degree – four years
Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree – four years
What are Audiologists like?
Based on our pool of users, audiologists are as artistic as they are investigative. At first glance, this finding appears to be somewhat perplexing, considering the scientific nature of the field.
However, the best audiologists may, in fact, perfectly combine investigative skills with expressive, creative, artistic talents. Their work, after all, entails not only solving hearing and balance issues but connecting and empathizing with patients and their families.
Audiologists are also known as:
Clinical Audiologist Pediatric Audiologist Licensed Audiologist Certified Audiologist