CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become an audiologist.
Is becoming an audiologist right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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The best way to prepare for a career in audiology during high school is to take as many science courses in areas like anatomy, physics, and genetics. Some schools may offer special-interest or after-school clubs related to science and/or healthcare; these are also opportunities to lay a foundation for college-level studies.
An undergraduate degree in communicative disorders is the most common pathway into audiology graduate programs. Students who earn degrees in other majors may be required to complete prerequisite coursework.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), communicative disorders programs typically cover the following subject areas:
General Knowledge, Skills, Aptitudes, and Experiences
- Critical thinking, problem solving, logical reasoning skills
- Exposure to the scientific method and opportunities for research experiences
- Exposure to the culture of science (ethics, research, team science)
- Exposure to other disciplines and professional/scientific organizations
- Opportunities for interdisciplinary and inter-professional collaborative learning
- Exposure to ‘evidence-informed decision making’ as a lifelong learning journey
- Cultural competence
- Competencies in oral and written communication
Social, Behavioral, Biological, and Physical Science Foundations
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Math and statistics
- Physics and acoustics
- Psychology and cognitive science
- Exposure to research contributions across fields
Communicative Disorders Content Knowledge, Skills, Aptitudes, and Experiences
- Historical and philosophical tenets of the professions
- Normal communication (speech, language, hearing, cognition) across the lifespan
- Overview of hearing and balance disorders
- Overview of speech, language, and swallowing disorders
- Overview of the clinical process, service delivery, and evidence-based practices
- Co-curricular experiences, such as service learning and undergraduate research
- Exposure to health and education policy and advocacy
- Knowledge of how to work in teams
- Knowledge of clinical, academic, and research careers
Admission to a doctoral program is competitive and generally requires:
- a minimum 3.00 grade point average (average GPA may be much higher)
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (weighting varies across programs)
- an essay and/or bio-sketch
- letters of recommendation
Graduate study in audiology comprises academic and clinical coursework, as well as clinical practicum experiences. The curriculum focuses on the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment of hearing, balance, and other auditory disorders.
Programs accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) provide training in:
Measurement of hearing
- Conducting and interpreting audiology screenings
- Operating screening equipment
Pathology of the auditory system
- The essential nature of diseases and conditions that impact the hearing and balance organs
- The function, selection, fitting, and care of hearing aids
Vestibular assessment and treatment
- The diagnosis and treatment of balance and equilibrium disorders
In audiology, specialization is not required, but there are many sub-disciplines in the field for audiologists who choose to specialize:
Clinical audiologists work in healthcare settings, such as clinics and hospitals, where they test hearing using a variety of audiological testing methods. They also assess and treat middle ear problems, and prescribe hearing aids.
Pediatric audiologists work in healthcare facilities or in school settings, where they assess the hearing of children.
Aural Rehabilitation Audiologists
Aural rehabilitation audiologists are responsible for training people to hear better, as well as training them to get better use from hearing aids and other assistive listening devices.
Industry or Military Audiologists
The work of audiologists who work in private industry, or for the military, is primarily focused on hearing conservation, noise reduction, and hearing protection.
Dispensing audiologists typically work in private practice, and they are often involved in fitting and dispensing hearing aids.
Research and Teaching Audiologists
Audiologists that are involved in research and teaching are typically employed by universities and colleges, and some may work for private research firms.
Other Areas of Specialty
Some audiologists work with implantable hearing devices, such as cochlear implants, from the assessment stage to post-surgical programming. Other audiologists may focus their work on neuro-otology or perform intraoperative monitoring of the hearing nerve.
In the United States, all audiologists must be licensed to practise independently. Specific requirements are determined by each state’s licensing board for audiologists. Most jurisdictions stipulate that candidates must:
- Complete 300 to 375 hours of supervised clinical experience
- Earn a passing score on the national exam
- Complete nine months of post-graduate professional clinical experience
Audiologists work as clinicians, researchers, educators, and administrators. Their preference generally determines the setting in which they work.
Clinicians work in:
- Private practice offices
- Community health centres
- Auditory rehabilitation centres
Researchers and educator work in:
- Colleges and universities
- Government agencies
- Private research firms
Administrators of speech and hearing programs work in:
- Government agencies
- Non-profit organizations
- Hospitals and clinics
Certification (recommended / optional)
Two major organizations offer voluntary certifications in audiology:
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA administers a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) as its entry-level credential. To qualify, candidates must graduate from an ASHA-accredited program, meet education and experience requirements, and pass the Praxis Examination in Audiology.
ASHA also offers a specialty certification in intra-operative monitoring (BCS-IOM) for audiologists who have earned their CCC-A and who work as part of a head-and-neck surgical team.
The American Board of Audiology (ABA)
ABA offers three different credentials in audiology. Each certification requires that candidates graduate from a regionally accredited audiology doctoral program, hold a state license, meet experience and supervision requirements, and pass an exam.
The ABA credentials are Board Certification in Audiology, Cochlear Implant Specialty Certification, and Pediatric Audiology Specialty Certification
Both ASHA and ABA operate continuing education programs which provide audiologists with opportunities to maintain and renew their certifications. These include association and board developed courses and webinars; as well as events, conferences, and conventions.