Overview

Audiologists practising in the United States must hold a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree. To qualify for entry to a doctoral program, students must earn a Bachelor’s. While no specific undergraduate major is required, some aspiring audiologists opt for a CSD Bachelor’s program. By earning their degree in communication sciences and disorders, students ensure that they complete courses related to the audiology field. Typical CSD course include fundamentals of hearing, language development, introduction to language disorders, and hearing rehabilitation.

Graduate coursework in audiology includes anatomy, physiology, physics, genetics, normal and abnormal communication development, diagnosis and treatment, pharmacology, and ethics. Curricula also comprise supervised clinical practice. While supplementary licensing requirements vary according to state, most jurisdictions require graduation from a doctoral program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation. In many states, audiologists need to obtain continuing education credits to maintain their license.

Though voluntary, audiologists may choose to pursue certification by a professional organization, such as the American Speech-Language Association (ASHA) or American Board of Audiology (ABA). Certification is awarded to candidates who pass a standardized exam.

Audiology offers its practitioners the opportunity to specialize, either in a particular patient demographic – such as pediatrics or geriatrics – or in a designated sub-field – such as balance, cochlear implants, hearing aids, or tinnitus and auditory processing.

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

Steps to becoming an Audiologist

The steps along the pathway to a career in audiology call for both a dedication to science and the capacity to empathize with patients faced with the frightening possibility of partial or complete hearing loss.

1 High School

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.

2 Bachelor’s Degree

An undergraduate degree in communications sciences and disorders (CSD) 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), CSD 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 (e.g., ethics, interdisciplinary 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 (e.g., reading, writing, listening, speaking)

Social, Behavioral, Biological, and Physical Science Foundations

 Biology
 Human anatomy and physiology
 Linguistics
 Math and statistics
 Neuroscience
 Physics and acoustics
 Psychology and cognitive science
 Exposure to research contributions across fields

CSD 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, continuum of service delivery, and evidence-based practices
 Co-curricular experiences, such as grand rounds and colloquia, 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, including faculty and graduate student research

3 Doctorate Degree

Admission to a doctoral program is competitive and generally requires:

 a minimum 3.00 grade point average (average GPA for admission 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

Amplification
The function, selection, fitting, and care of hearing aids

Vestibular assessment and treatment
The diagnosis and treatment of balance and equilibrium disorders

4 Specialization (optional)

In audiology, specialization is not required, but there are many sub-disciplines in the field for audiologists who choose to specialize:

Clinical Audiologists
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
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
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.

5 Licensure

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 three hundred to three hundred seventy-five hours of supervised clinical experience

 Earn a passing score on the national exam

 Complete nine months of post-graduate professional clinical experience

6 Employment

Audiologists work as clinicians, researchers, educators, and administrators. Their preference generally determines the setting in which they work.

Clinicians work in:
 Private practice offices
 Hospitals
 Schools
 Community health centres
 Auditory rehabilitation centres

Researchers and educator work in:
 Hospitals
 Colleges and universities
 Government agencies
 Private research firms

Administrators of speech and hearing programs work in:
 Government agencies
 Non-profit organizations
 Hospitals and clinics

7 Certification (recommended / optional)

Two major organizations offer voluntary certifications in audiology:

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
www.asha.org

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)
www.boardofaudiology.org

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

8 Continuing Education

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.

Should I become an Audiologist?

The audiology field calls for specific personality traits and skills:

Compassion
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.

Communication abilities
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.

Technological savvy
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:

Job security
As an aging population requires increasing hearing and balance care, the foreseeable job market for audiologists appears to be excellent.

Job flexibility
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.

What are Audiologists like?

Investigative

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 by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 53 Sokanu users

Are Audiologists happy?

18%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. 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.

Audiologist Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

Education History of Audiologists

The most common degree held by audiologists is Biology. 6% of audiologists had a degree in biology before becoming audiologists. That is over 2 times the average across all careers. Communication Disorders and Sciences graduates are the second most common among audiologists, representing 6% of audiologists in the Sokanu user base, which is 46.9 times the average.

Audiologist Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming an Audiologist, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of audiologists % of population Multiple
Biology 5.6% 3.5% 1.6×
Communication Disorders and Sciences 5.6% 0.1% 46.9×
Psychology 3.7% 6.7% 0.6×
Mass Media 1.9% 0.5% 3.6×

Audiologist Education Levels

80% of audiologists have a doctorate degree. 20% of audiologists have a master's degree.

No education 0%
High school diploma 0%
Associate's degree 0%
Bachelor's degree 0%
Master's degree 20%
Doctorate degree 80%

How to Become an Audiologist

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