The field of audiology – the study of hearing and balance disorders – has expanded greatly in the last few decades. Along with it, so have the requirements for becoming an audiologist. As a hearing patient, it’s important to know what standards audiologists are required to meet, and which are optional (even if highly desired) credentials. Why? Because it will not only keep you from choosing an unqualified health professional, but help you choose the one whose particular credentialing will enable them to best address your hearing needs.

Changing standards

Until this decade, audiologists could practice with only a master’s degree. Now, all accredited programs start at the doctorate level. Before they can earn their doctorate in audiology (AuD), audiologists have to complete a bachelor’s degree, usually in a hearing-related field. After an additional four years of audiology-specific study and clinical practice, candidates must pass exams, get licensed by the state they work in, and finally earn the title doctor of audiology. At the very least, a prospective audiologist should have these credentials.

Certifications of audiologists

There are also a number of certifications you’ll see listed on the audiologist’s website or on plaques in their office. The following is a list of the most common certifications and what they can tell you about a prospective audiologist.

1.     Board Certified in Audiology 

The American Board of Audiology (ABA) offers this certification to audiologists who meet their standards for continuing education and excellence in their field. ABA certification is recognized and respected by other audiologists and health care professionals. As a patient, it shows you that the audiologist is dedicated to continuous improvement in practice over the course of their career.

2.     Pediatric Audiology Specialty and Cochlear Implant Specialty Certifications 

These certifications are also offered by the ABA, and provide distinction for audiologists who wish to prove their proficiency in a specialized area. If you are looking for a highly qualified audiologist for your child or require cochlear implants, these certifications offer additional assurance that you’ve chosen the best of the best.

3.     Certificate of Clinical Compliance in Audiology (CCC-A)

This certification, offered by the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association (ASHA), is held by more than 170,000 audiologists nationwide. It demonstrates that an audiologist has not only gone beyond the minimum educational requirements, but has also passed the national exam and completed a clinical fellowship. Widely recognized, it is even a requirement in some sectors and organizations. This is another certification that demonstrates an audiologist’s superior standing in a sea of options.

In summary, an audiologist should possess, at the very least, a master’s or doctorate degree in audiology and be licensed with the state. The more credentials an audiologist has, the more you can vouch for their knowledge and dedication. Looking for additional certifications above and beyond the minimum requirements is always a good idea if you or your family members have special hearing needs.