medical audiology and speechlanguage pathology

Presently, Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree programs are not available through the online or hybrid format. They must be obtained through an on-campus program due to the nature of the clinical practicum and curriculum. However, if you are currently practicing as an audiologist, certainly you are aware that to continue your practice in a clinical setting you must have a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree. As of January 1, 2012, those individuals who are practicing without the Au.D. degree must obtain one, which can easily be earned through a 100% online transitional or bridge program.

What does an Audiologist do?

An audiologist is responsible for the well-being of an individual’s hearing. They are skilled and knowledgeable on all services and products used to assist others in hearing loss and proper ear care. Audiologists also diagnose balance disorders and tinnitus, performs hearing evaluations, provides rehabilitation services, as well as treating other hearing disorders. They fit patients for hearing aids, in addition to, conducting relevant research on hearing health. Often, audiologists work closely with physicians to create an effective patient care plan. An audiologist can treat ear-related issues in patients ranging in age from newborns through senior citizens. Pediatric audiology focuses on the hearing health of children.

What sort of accreditation should I look for in a school?

There are two academic accreditation organizations in the field of audiology that you should consider when choosing a credible school and audiology program. One is the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE). The other organization is the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA).

How do I earn my Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree?

If you are new to audiology, you must earn the Au.D. degree to begin your clinical practice. This audiology program is typically a four-year graduate program commitment in which you may enter with a bachelor’s degree. The Au.D. degree now replaces the master’s degree in medical audiology. If you desire, you may specialize in pediatric hearing, geriatric hearing loss, or educational audiology.

Prerequisites for earning your Au.D. degree may include a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Communication Disorders or a B.S. in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, although, other bachelor’s degree programs may satisfy your school’s requirements. Communication sciences and speech and hearing are complementary disciplines to audiology.

Coursework involved with an Au.D. program may consist of classes related to the Advanced Anatomy of the Ear, Physiology of the Nervous System, Biological Foundations of Speech & Music, as well as, aud curriculum focused on Diagnosing and Treatment of Hearing Disorders or Balance Disorders. Coursework in Peripheral Hearing, Amplification, Medical Audiology, along with, Psycho-Acoustics, Speech Communication, Research Methods in Audiology and Ethics of the Hearing Aid Industry may be included.

You can also expect to learn about Cochlear Implants, Deaf Education, Pharmacology and Genetics. Audiologists also learn how to read audiograms after a hearing test to determine hearing loss, in addition to, measuring low frequency and high-frequency loss. Most programs also include coursework in Patient Communication and Business Development.

Audiologists do not perform surgery or prescribe medications to their patients, although over-the-counter medications can be recommended. Audiologists, who are also recognized as “hearing aid fitters” can sell hearing aids, per their state’s registration requirements.

Your first two years of an audiology program will primarily include observation and clinical orientation, however, in your last two years, you can expect to gain clinical experience through internships and a capstone project.

What type of degree do I need to pursue research or educate others in Audiology?

Typically, if you are interested in doing intensive research or becoming an educator at the university level, you will need a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Audiology. Your dissertation will be a major part of your program. You can expect coursework in Hearing Sciences and Disorders, Communication Disorders, Electroacoustics, Sign Language, and Behavioral Management.

How do I earn a transitional or bridge Au.D. degree?

If you currently hold a master’s degree, you will need to earn a Doctor of Audiology degree to continue your clinical practice as an audiologist. In this capacity, you can typically find transitional or bridge programs through a 100% online graduate program, therefore, allowing you to continue working while attending a doctoral program.

What kind of career and salary can I expect with my Au.D. degree?

As of May 2017, the BLS reports that the median salary for an audiologist was $75,920 annually. They also state that the lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,300 per year, although, the highest 10 percent earned upwards of $111,150 or more annually. As our population ages, the need for competent audiologists is expected to grow by 21 percent between 2016 and 2026.

Most audiologists work in specialty audiology clinics, physician offices, hospitals, governmental agencies or within the school system or research facilities. Audiologists often open their own audiology practice. In addition, they are sometimes hired in a consulting capacity, such as in manufacturing facilities and the travel or music industry to reduce loud noises and pressure changes.

Do I need a license to be an audiologist?

To protect consumers, each state requires an audiologist to be properly licensed in compliance with their state’s regulations. Each state has their own mandates, however, some require that you earn a Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology (CCC-A) in addition to the completion of your accredited Au.D. program, as well as, at least one year of full-time supervised clinical practicum. Often, passing a national certification exam is also required. Most states also require continuing education classes. You will want to check with your state’s rules for the proper licensing and educational requirements. Additional regulations may be required to sell and fit hearing aid devices.

What schools offer Doctor of Audiology degrees?

As a practicing audiologist who needs to make a transition into the Au.D. degree, there are a couple of 100% online bridge programs to consider. Salus University located in Elkins Park, PA and A.T. Still University of Health Sciences located in Kirksville, MO both offer this type of program.

The following schools offer their students the opportunity to earn Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degrees through an on-campus program: The University of the Pacific – San Francisco, CA, Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant, MI, Indiana University, Bloomington – Bloomington, IN, University of Buffalo SUNY – Buffalo, NY and Salus University located in Elkins Park, PA.

Becoming an audiologist is an awesome opportunity to help others who are in need. No one should miss out on the chance to hear the birds sing, their grandchild’s sweet voice, or the sound of music.  Without a doubt, you can change someone’s life through a career in audiology!