Both hearing instrument specialists and audiologists do a lot of good for people experiencing hearing loss and related issues. If you have certain problems like vertigo, however, or need to undertake hearing or speech rehabilitation, you should seek out an audiologist.
In fact, at Echo Hearing Center we believe it’s always your best bet to see an audiologist because they have the fullest picture of the workings of your ears—inner and outer. This opinion may also be due, in part, to the fact that our team is led by a gifted audiologist.
Let’s talk a bit more about this vital profession, and how an audiologist differs from a hearing instrument specialist.
An Audiologist Has More Education
Before someone becomes an audiologist, they must earn a bachelor’s degree and then complete a program to obtain a doctoral degree in audiology (AuD). This involves a large number of hours spent in supervised clinical experience as well as n the classroom. After earning a degree in audiology, you must put in 9 months of post-graduate clinical experience like an internship with a licensed audiologist.
In order to begin practicing audiology, you must obtain state licensure, with requirements varying from state-to-state. Many audiologists also choose to pursue further certification, with certification by the American Speech Language Association carrying the most weight. In order to apply for the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence, you must have completed 1,820 hours of graduate-level supervised clinical practice.
An audiologist must perform an additional internship if they hope to become a licensed hearing instrument specialist, with the length of the internship determined by their home state.
A Hearing Instrument Specialist Has Less Training
The qualifications to become a hearing aid specialist are far less stringent.
You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become a hearing instrument specialist and in fact, in theory, can become a hearing instrument specialist with only a high school degree. Many employers, however, prefer hiring hearing instrument specialists who have earned a 4-year degree.
To become a hearing instrument specialist, you must work for at least two years with a qualified hearing instrument specialist or attend hearing aid technician school. The latter is a two-year program offered through a limited amount of community colleges. In states that require you to obtain a license, you must spend a requisite number of hours under the supervision of a licensed practitioner.
Many hearing instrument specialists cement their credibility through certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences. You can apply for this distinction if you’ve fulfilled your licensing requirements and have worked 2 of the previous 5 years as a full-time hearing instrument dispenser.
Audiologists Can Perform More Services
Because of their higher level of education, audiologists can perform more services than a hearing instrument specialist. To start with, an audiologist is qualified to perform thorough diagnostic hearing evaluations, gauging patients for:
- Auditory nerve function
- The function of the middle and outer ear
- Speech understanding
An audiologist can also undertake:
- Auditory processing evaluations for infants, children, and adults
- Cerumen (earwax) removal
- Cochlear implants
- Evaluation and treatment of balance disorders
- Fitting patients with hearing aids
- Rehabilitation for disorders of speech, hearing and auditory processing
- Tinnitus diagnosis and treatment
Hearing Aid Specialists Perform Fewer Services Than An Audiologist
Hearing instrument specialists are qualified to perform a basic hearing test for the purpose of selling hearing aids. They can also fit, program, sell and repair hearing aids. Because many of today’s hearing aids come equipped with tinnitus management tools, many hearing aid specialists are delving further into an area once confined to audiology: tinnitus treatment.
Most audiologists focus only on certain areas. For instance, an audiologist may choose not to perform cerumen removal. At Echo Hearing Center, our services include:
- Aural rehabilitation
- Cerumen (earwax) removal
- Custom hearing aid molds
- Hearing aid demonstrations, dispensing and repair
- Hearing protection
- Real ear measurements
- Speech mapping
- Tinnitus evaluation, counseling, and treatment
At Echo Hearing Center we’re dedicated to helping people preserve and improve their invaluable sense of hearing. If you’re ready to find out firsthand how a skilled audiologist can help you with your hearing or balance issues, contact us today to make an appointment.