An audiologist is a primary health care professional who evaluates, diagnoses, treats and manages hearing loss and balance disorders. Audiologists have at minimum a Master’s Degree. Today’s requirement is a Doctoral level degree. Audiologists have two credentialing bodies, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Board of Audiology. In addition to training, audiologists must have over 300 hours of supervised clinical experience and pass a national exam. A 9 month clinical training then follows. State licensure is also required to practice. States have different rules, but audiologists typically need 20-30 hours of continuing education every year in order to stay active. Audiologists can work in a variety of settings including ENT offices, hospitals, schools, private practice offices and VA hospitals. Some of the most common things audiologists do are test newborn babies for hearing loss, fit hearing aids and cochlear implants, help people with balance problems, treat people who have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and provide rehabilitation for people with hearing loss.
Audiology has been consistently ranked by US News & World Report as one of the best careers. It has high job satisfaction, low stress levels and good pay. Audiologists can typically find jobs full-time or part-time, and this can lead to great work life balance.
Otoscopy is also something that audiologists can do. This simply means looking into your ear. Video otoscopy can be used to show someone what the inside of their ear canal looks like. Any abnormalities or issues in the outer or middle ear can be shared and discussed. This may result in needing to have your ears cleaned or a referral to an ENT specialist if there are problems. Some audiologists have been trained to remove cerumen (wax) in the ear. Removal methods can include ear flushing, suction, or manual removal.
Audiologists may also be involved in hearing conservation. Being aware of noise exposure especially while you are younger can help to ensure that you preserve your hearing when you are older. Turn down those earbuds, use noise protection when engaging in loud activities such as mowing the lawn, using power tools, shooting guns and riding motorcycles. Custom hearing protection is available from most audiologists, which can further help to protect your hearing. This requires taking an impression (mold) of your ear so that your hearing protection fits perfectly. Custom recreational pieces can also be made to attach to your earbuds, allowing for better sound quality and enjoy of music and phone calls.