April 4, 2008
What This Job Pays: audiologist
Pay: The median pay of an audiologist in the Seattle area is $64,014, with most making from $57,853 to $74,248, according to salary.com
Demand: Employment of audiologists is expected to grow 10 percent from 2006 to 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Hearing loss is strongly associated with aging, so rapid growth in older population groups will cause the number of people with hearing and balance impairments to increase markedly.
Medical advances also are improving the survival rate of premature infants and trauma victims, who then need assessment and sometimes treatment. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants also will increase employment.
A number of states require that newborns be screened for hearing loss and receive appropriate early-intervention services.
Employment in educational services will increase along with growth in elementary- and secondary-school enrollments, including enrollment of special-education students.
Growth in employment of audiologists will be moderated by limitations on reimbursements made by third-party payers for the tests and services they provide.
Job prospects will be favorable for those possessing the Au.D. degree. Only a few job openings for audiologists will arise from the need to replace those who leave the occupation, because the occupation is relatively small and workers tend to stay in this occupation until they retire.
Need to know: All states require that audiologists be licensed or registered. Licensure or registration requires at least a master's degree in audiology. However, a first professional or doctoral degree is becoming more common. As of early 2007, eight states required a doctoral degree or its equivalent. The professional doctorate in audiology (Au.D.) requires approximately eight years of university training and supervised professional experience.
In early 2007, the Accreditation Commission of Audiology Education accredited more than 50 Au.D. programs and the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) accredited more than 70 graduate programs in audiology.
Graduation from an accredited program may be required to obtain a license in some states.
Requirements for admission to programs in audiology include courses in English, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and communication. Graduate coursework in audiology includes anatomy; physiology; physics; genetics; normal and abnormal communication development; auditory, balance and neural systems assessment and treatment; diagnosis and treatment; pharmacology; and ethics.
Audiologists are regulated by licensure or registration in all 50 states. Forty-one states have continuing-education requirements for licensure renewal, the number of hours required varies by state. Twenty states and the District of Columbia also require audiologists to have a Hearing Aid Dispenser license to dispense hearing aids; for the remaining 30 states, an audiologist license is all that is needed to dispense hearing aids.
Third-party payers generally require practitioners to be licensed to qualify for reimbursement. States set requirements for education, mandating a master's or doctoral degree, as well as other requirements.
In some states, specific certifications from professional associations satisfy some or all of the requirements for state licensure.
Certification can be obtained from two certifying bodies. Audiologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; they may also be certified through the American Board of Audiology.
Audiologists should be able to effectively communicate diagnostic test results, diagnoses and proposed treatments in a manner easily understood by their patients. They must be able to approach problems objectively and provide support to patients and their families. Because a patient's progress may be slow, patience, compassion and good listening skills are necessary.
It is important for audiologists to be aware of new diagnostic and treatment technologies. Most audiologists participate in continuing-education courses to learn new methods and technologies.
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