Becoming an Audiologist: Job Description & Salary Information

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The mean annual salary of an audiologist is around $76,790. Is it worth the education requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming an audiologist is right for you.
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The Pros and Cons of an Audiologist Career

Audiologists diagnose and counsel patients who have hearing difficulties. Read more about the pros and cons to see if a career in audiology is the right choice for you.

Pros of an Audiologist Career
High wage potential ($76,790 mean annual wage as of 2014)*
Fast-growing field (34% increase projected from 2012-2022)*
Excellent employment benefits (health insurance, sick leave, pension plan, paid vacation)**
Rewarding career (audiologists help people improve their hearing)**

Cons of an Audiologist Career
Licensure is required*
Advanced degree is required*
Might have to work with uncooperative patients***
Continuing education is required***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **iseek.org, ***American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Career Info

Job Description

Audiologists examine patients who have hearing and balance problems and perform tests to determine a diagnosis and method of treatment. Treatment may be as simple as cleaning wax from the ears or as complex as programming cochlear implants. Audiologists fit patients with hearing aids and educate patients and their families about alternate means of communication, such as sign language and lip reading. They visit job sites and suggest steps employers can take to prevent workers' hearing loss. They also conduct research on the sources of hearing dysfunction in an effort to develop new modes of treatment. Audiologists generally work in schools or healthcare settings, such as medical clinics and hospitals.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most audiologists earned from $47,000-$110,000 as of 2014. The top paying industries were instruments manufacturing and supplies merchant wholesalers. Additionally, the states with the highest employment levels were California, Texas, New York, Ohio and Florida. Job growth in the field is expected to be much faster than average, with a projected increase of 34% between 2012 and 2022. Job growth was expected to stem from increased hearing loss in the aging population and early detection techniques.

Education Requirements

A master's or doctoral degree is usually required for employment as an audiologist. However, you may want to keep in mind that the field was moving toward higher education standards as of 2012, which could lead more states to require a doctoral degree for licensure, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Degree programs in audiology generally include courses in anatomy and physiology, acoustics, amplification, cochlear implants and research methods. An internship or residency is usually required.

Licensure

Every state requires a license to practice audiology. Qualifications vary by state; however, a graduate degree in audiology and a specified amount of supervised clinical experience typically are required. Some states also require a passing grade on the national audiology exam administered by the Educational Testing Service.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers typically look for audiologists with experience and an advanced degree. They also seek workers who have current state licensure in the field. The following are actual job postings for audiologists that were advertised in April 2012:

  • A medical center in South Carolina sought a full-time audiologist to evaluate hearing loss and determine the course of treatment for patients. Applicants needed a master's degree (a doctorate was preferred) and 2-3 years of experience.
  • A medical center in San Antonio was looking for an audiologist to conduct evaluations of clients with hearing impairments. A doctoral degree in audiology was required, along with at least 1 year of experience as a licensed audiologist. Candidates needed a valid license from the Texas State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Certification from ASHA was preferred.
  • An eye and ear infirmary at a Boston teaching hospital wanted to hire an audiologist to evaluate and rehabilitate patients with hearing impairments and diseases of the neck and head. A master's or doctoral degree in audiology was required, along with a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in Audiology from ASHA. Candidates needed at least 2 years of experience and had to be licensed to practice audiology in Massachusetts.

How to Stand Out

A doctoral degree in audiology is a must to advance in the field. Another step you can take is to become certified by ASHA. A CCC from ASHA provides proof of competency to state licensing boards, clients and employers. Some states and school districts offer salary supplements to audiologists with a CCC. To be certified by ASHA, you must provide proof of a doctoral degree and receive a passing grade on the national audiologist exam. This certification can ease the path to licensure and offers opportunities for career advancement.

Other Careers to Consider

Occupational Therapist

If you want to pursue a helping profession, but don't want to spend the extra money and time needed to obtain the doctoral degree required for licensure in some states, you may be interested in becoming an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists can enter the field with a master's degree. They help people with temporary or permanent illnesses or disabilities learn to perform daily tasks, such as dressing and bathing. They also teach patients exercises that can relieve pain, suggest equipment that can improve daily life, such as wheelchairs, and educate patients in the use of such equipment. According to the BLS, occupational therapists earned a mean annual wage of approximately $75,000 as of May 2011. The job outlook for occupational therapists is bright, with 33% growth projected between 2010 and 2020; this is much faster than average.

Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologist is another occupation that requires a master's degree for entry-level employment. These professionals deal with speech and language instead of hearing. Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, assess patients with speech and swallowing disorders and determine a course of treatment. They help people improve their communication, reading and writing skills. Speech-language pathologists also teach people who have swallowing difficulties ways to strengthen their muscles. Speech-language pathologist's wages were a bit higher than audiologists with a mean annual wage of $72,000 as of May 2011. However, job growth was projected to be slower, with a 23% increase between 2010 and 2020; this was still faster than average, according to the BLS.

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Purdue University

  • Master of Science in Education in Special Education

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Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Health Science
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin

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Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Education - Special Education: Masters Only
  • MS in Education - Special Education and Special Education Certification
  • MS in Health Administration

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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

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Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
  • Education Specialist - Special Education

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Baker College Online

  • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)

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