Learn more about this vital profession
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States. For the millions of Americans dealing with hearing loss and related issues, audiologists can help.
AN IMPORTANT PROFESSION
As outlined by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the audiology profession goes back to World War II, when thousands of veterans returned from service with noise-induced hearing loss and head injuries from bombs and artillery. Military hospitals nationwide instituted standardized hearing rehabilitation programs, which then expanded to nonmilitary settings like universities, medical hospitals, and community health centers, as well as into private practice.
The profession has grown since its military beginning: Today, there are approximately 14,000 audiologists in the United States. These modern audiologists’ daily duties now typically include:
- Examining patients with hearing and balance disorders.
- Assessing the results of examinations and diagnosing type and degree of hearing loss, as well as evaluating patients on a regular basis to continue or change treatment plans.
- Fitting adults and pediatric patients with the appropriate amplification.
- Fitting and mapping cochlear implant devices.
- Counseling patients and their families on ways to improve communication, such as using audiovisual communication with a known topic and educating their patients on the newest technologies for improving speech in noise and on the telephone.
- Participation in newborn hearing screening programs.
- Performing intraoperative monitoring during delicate surgeries.
- Providing audiological services in schools.
- Researching the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders.
- Educating adults and children on ways to prevent hearing loss, particularly as it relates to excessive noise exposure.
Audiologists use the latest technology to test patients’ hearing ability and balance, and work to determine the extent of hearing damage and identify underlying causes. Some audiologists even specialize in certain fields or patient populations, such as addressing and preventing occupational hearing loss, performing public education, or working specifically with children or older adults.
STRONG JOB OUTLOOK FOR LICENSEES
All U.S. states require licensure for audiologists, and California has been doing so since the 1970s. To become licensed as an audiologist in California, in addition to fingerprinting, prospective licensees must:
- Hold a clinical doctoral degree or equivalent in audiology from an accredited educational institution.
- Complete 300 hours of supervised clinical practicum in three different clinical settings (under revision).
- Complete a final-year externship under the direction of an audiology doctoral program.
- Pass a national exam.
California audiology licensees also can complete additional training and testing to become licensed as hearing-aid dispensers.
Once licensed, audiologists in California and elsewhere have a strong career outlook: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the audiologist profession is projected to grow 13% from 2019 to 2029: much faster than average occupational growth. BLS attributes the job growth to an aging population with increasing hearing and balance needs, as well as to early diagnosis and treatment of infants with hearing disorders through programs like the California Newborn Hearing Screening Program. The National Institute on Aging has estimated that the need for audiologists to serve the older population will increase by 50%; in addition, California alone is expected to need 750 additional audiologists by 2030 to meet the state’s growing demand for audiology services, according to California Academy of Audiology data.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
California audiologists are licensed and regulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board. For more information on the Board and its licensees’ regulation and services, visit www.speechandhearing.ca.gov; to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.