Being able to perceive and interact normally with one’s environment is an important part of maintaining employment, as well as functioning fully in daily life. Conditions that affect the senses of men and women can cause significant impairment, and the professionals who diagnose these conditions can make a huge difference in someone’s life. The audiologist has an important role in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect hearing. The audiologist salary reflects to some degree the significance of this occupation, with some audiologists making close to six figures or even above the six-figure mark.
Though the audiologist straddles the fence between the healthcare and childcare/education realms, the job growth in this industry is expected to exceed the national average job growth across all careers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The robust growth anticipated in the audiology industry reflects an increasing demand for healthcare-related jobs to meet the needs of an aging population in the United States. Job growth also reflects the relatively small size in the industry and the not too surprising need for more specialists in an industry that meets the needs of both young and old alike.
Job Duties of an Audiologist
The duties of the audiologist are manifold, reflecting how important it is for men and women to be able to hear normally in the modern world. Audiologists are often important members of a team that are able to diagnose hearing problems and provide treatments that can drastically improve the ability of the patient to hear the sounds of the world around them. This is important for school-age children for whom hearing is an important part of gaining full benefit from school education, though it is also important for the working age population and elderly Americans who come with their own coterie of needs.
Naturally, gaining an idea of the audiologist salary is an important part of the decision of whether to pursue a career in any given profession, though it is only one variable among many that should be considered. Future professionals should seek a complete understanding of what the job is and what it entails before they embark on long educational odysseys or training programs. Because audiologists are able to aid so many who suffer from hearing problems, an understanding of the nature of the work is often enough to sell the professional to students.
So what do audiologists do? Although many people associate audiologists with a component of the job name, in this case, ‘audio,’ hearing and sound is only part of the audiologist’s job, albeit an important one. In reality, the realm of the audiologists is the ear itself, which not only effects hearing, but other qualities including balance. Problems with the ear can lead to vertigo, nausea, and other symptoms. The audiologist, therefore, performs audiological tests to diagnose, treat, and manage problems of hearing, balance, or other conditions related to the ear.
Naturally, because hearing, balance, and other functions related to the ear are so critical to functioning in daily life, the audiologist is involved in a wide range of duties related to these areas. Again the audiologist is like other healthcare providers who are responsible not only for diagnosing and treating conditions but managing these conditions, communicating information to patients and other healthcare providers and even performing research to improve hearing technologies or develop new tests.
Many audiologists possess a doctoral’s degree, which will be discussed later in the education portion of this career survey. Below are listed some of the common duties which a future audiologist should expect to perform:
The range of duties listed above should give the reader an idea of the types of settings in which audiologists often find themselves working. Problems can and do affect men and women of all ages, but the diagnosis of congenital problems usually occurs in childhood or infancy. Problems of hearing or balance may occur later as a result of illness or may develop in old age as part of the aging process. For these reasons, audiologists are frequently found not only in schools, but in hospitals, private practice offices over other healthcare professionals, self-employed environments, and government facilities.
In terms of the day-to-day work of an audiologist, this will be impacted by the work location and specific function of the audiologists, as many professionals may work primarily in realms outside of diagnosis and treatment, like research, education, government oversight work, or consulting. Audiologists that work primarily in the healthcare setting or related environments use specialized equipment like audiometers, computers, and other devices to aid them in assessing and diagnosing patients.
It is important to note that several variables can affect hearing. Therefore the audiologist may be expected to be engaged in tasks like performing psychological tests, cleaning wax from the ear, fitting the patient for external hearing aids, or working with physicians in preparing the patient for cochlear implants. Cochlear implants are placed under the skin, communicate directly with the auditory nerve, and are designed for patients with deafness.
As mentioned above, audiologists can work with men and women of all ages, though they can choose to specialize in an age group, like children in the primary school environment, for example. It may surprise some that audiologist salary is not closely tied to work, location or age group though audiologists working in hospitals tend to earn on the higher end of the spectrum.
The basic requirement for employment as an audiologist is undergoing some change as the industry has moved towards professionals being required to possess a four-year doctoral degree called the Doctorate of Audiology or A.U.D. Prior to this, most audiologists possessed a master’s degree, and many functioning professionals today most likely possess a master’s degrees and are able to function as audiologists. With this being said, students considering entry into this profession so expect to work toward a doctoral degree as master’s programs have been phased out in the United States.
There are now many doctoral programs available across the United States, currently numbering about 70. A bachelor’s degree covering certain subject areas is required to enter these programs, not unlike other programs for healthcare providers. In terms of the areas of study the student should expect in their graduate program, common subjects encountered include the following:
Although the educational requirements may be changing in the audiology industry, one thing hasn’t changed, and that is that audiology professionals must be licensed in all states. Licensing will vary based on the state of employment, and many audiologists also go on to obtain certification through either the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or the American Board of Audiology. Audiologist salary, to be discussed in the next section, can be impacted by the type of degree possessed, other education or training obtained, and whether the audiologist works in a private practice.
As mentioned above, the job outlook for audiologists is very good, with jobs expected to grow 20% between 2014 and 2014 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The audiologist salary is similar to that of over professionals in the healthcare field who work outside of direct medical care. The median audiologist salary in the United States is $80,217. Added to this base salary are other perks like bonuses, health and retirement funds, and other benefits, which bring compensation well above $80,000. The audiologist salary naturally exists in the range, and the range of salaries in this profession is $50,490 to $113,540.
Salaries in this industry are influenced primarily by place of employment, with audiologists in hospitals averaging more than their peers in education and the healthcare officers of other healthcare providers, like doctors and speech pathologists. It is believed that audiologists working in their own private practice offices earn on the higher end of the spectrum, though some reports group this salary data in with other private practices, like doctor’s offices.
The audiologist can look forward to a career an esteemed profession that provides inestimable benefit to millions of men and women in the United States. With the prestige of an advanced degree and the expectation of a handsome audiologist salary, aspiring professionals have much to look forward to.