What is an audiologist?
An audiologist is a healthcare professional who has earned a masters and/or doctoral degree in audiology. Audiology is essentially the science of hearing, as it applies to humans. The audiologist must be licensed as an audiologist to practice audiology. In the profession of audiology, the masters degree was the accepted "clinical" degree for almost 50 years. However, the profession transitioned (as of the mid-1990s) and the doctorate will soon be the entry-level requirement to practice audiology. The Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) is the designation of the professional doctorate in audiology and is issued exclusively by regionally accredited universities and colleges. There are other doctoral degrees that have been earned by audiologists, such as the Ph.D. (still highly sought by researchers and academicians), the Sc.D. and the Ed.D.
Audiologists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, clinics, universities, rehabilitation facilities, cochlear implant centers, speech and hearing centers, private audiology practices, hearing aid dispensing offices, hearing aid manufacturing facilities, medical centers, as well as otolaryngology (ENT physician) offices.
The vast majority of hearing problems do not require medical or surgical intervention, and in fact, some 90 to 95 percent of all cases of hearing loss can be corrected with hearing aids. Audiologists are clinically, academically and professionally trained to determine which hearing losses need medical referral. As a licensed healthcare provider, the audiologist refers patients to physicians when there is a medically or surgically treatable problem. Many audiologists dispense (sell and service) hearing aids and related assistive and alerting devices for the telephone, TV and special listening situations.