What you need to know
Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat a patient’s hearing, balance, or related ear problems.
Most audiologists work in healthcare facilities, such as physicians’ offices, audiology clinics, and hospitals. Some work in schools or for school districts, and travel between facilities. Others work in health and personal care stores.
Some of the things audiologists might do:
- Examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems
- Assess the results of the examination and diagnose problems
- Determine and administer treatment to meet patients’ goals
- Provide treatment for tinnitus, a condition that causes ringing in the ear
- Fit and dispense hearing aids
- Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate, such as lip reading or through technology
- Evaluate patients regularly to check on hearing and balance and to continue or change treatment plans
- Record patient progress
- Research the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders
- Educate patients on ways to prevent hearing loss
- Communication skills. Audiologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments, so patients clearly understand the situation and options. They also may need to work in teams with other healthcare providers and education specialists regarding patient care.
- Compassion. Audiologists work with patients who may be frustrated or emotional because of their hearing or balance problems. They should be empathetic and supportive of patients and their families.
- Critical-thinking skills. Audiologists must concentrate when testing a patient’s hearing and be able to analyze each patient’s situation, in order to offer the best treatment. They must also be able to provide alternative plans when patients do not respond to initial treatment.
- Patience. Audiologists must work with patients who may need a lot of time and special attention.
- Problem-solving skills. Audiologists must figure out the causes of problems with hearing and balance and determine the appropriate treatment or treatments to address them.
The average pay for audiologists in the United States ranges from $56,550 to $128,160 as of May 2020.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of audiologists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Hearing loss and balance disorders increase as people get older, so the aging population is likely to increase demand for audiologists.
Audiologists need a doctoral degree and must be licensed in all states. The doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.) is a graduate program that typically takes 4 years to complete. A bachelor’s degree in any field is needed to enter one of these programs.
Graduate coursework includes anatomy, physiology, physics, genetics, normal and abnormal communication development, diagnosis and treatment, pharmacology, and ethics. Programs also include supervised clinical practice. Graduation from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation is required to get a license in most states.