Audiologists are medical professionals that diagnose and treat hearing loss, balance disorders and tinnitus. Audiologists work with people of all ages from newborns to the elderly. You can find audiologists in independent practice, working with otolaryngologists (ENTs), at hearing clinics and in research laboratories.

Education and training

Audiologists must obtain a doctor of Audiology degree from an accredited institution. First, they must complete an undergraduate training program and attain a bachelor’s degree.

After this, the candidate studies courses such as physiology, anatomy, diagnosis and treatment of hearing problems and abnormal communication development for four years. They must also complete clinical training just like other medical professionals. During this clinical training, they work under the supervision of a licensed audiologist to practice hearing screenings, pure tone audiometry, tympanometry and other skills necessary to be an audiologist.

Once they have obtained a doctor of audiology degree, they can begin to study for the state-licensing exam. Each state requires audiologists to pass an exam to be licensed in that state. In addition, once an audiologist is licensed, they must complete continuing education programs to maintain their license.

An audiologist never stops learning about hearing, tinnitus, balance disorders or how to treat them.

Areas of expertise

When you think of an audiologist, you think of someone that fits hearing aids. That is just one job of the audiologist. In addition, the audiologist:

  • Uses technology to test a person’s ability to hear
  • Assesses inner ear function to diagnose balance problems
  • Diagnoses and treats individuals with tinnitus
  • Diagnoses and treats auditory processing disorders

That’s just the start. The audiologist is skilled at creating casts for earmolds, repairing hearing aids, programming hearing aids and helping people adjust to living with hearing loss or tinnitus. To be a good audiologist, you must be comfortable with people and with technology.

Some audiologists spend their careers researching hearing, balance or tinnitus problems and inventing new technology to combat these health problems. Other audiologists devote their careers to hands on treatment.

Finding an audiologist

Finding an audiologist isn’t hard. Ask your physician for a referral. If any of your friends have seen an audiologist or wear hearing aids, ask them for a referral.

Your audiologist is your partner in better hearing and balance. Pick an audiologist with whom you feel comfortable discussing lifestyle issues.