Audiology Frequently Asked Questions

audiology exam photo

What Is An Audiologist?

There are approximately 10,000 audiologists in the United States. Audiologists are the professionals patients can first consult if there is a complaint or concern about hearing loss, tinnitus (noises in the ear), equilibrium disorders and central auditory processing deficits. The Audiologist is trained to test and identify medical pathologies including diseases involving the hearing and balance mechanism., remove cerumen from the ear canal, make referrals to an appropriate physician for medical intervention, and follow the patients as they complete prescribed medical care. They work with patients ranging from newborn infants to senior citizens.

An Audiologist is a hearing and balance health care professional who holds a Master’s or Doctoral degree from an accredited university. Our profession is now in the process of making the transition to a doctoral degree entry level. The doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree will take approximately 4 years of post-bachelors degree university training to complete.

In addition, most states require licensure or registration. Audiologists, after completion of their initial degree, may decide to then pursue a career in research.

An Audiologist is also responsible for developing a complete rehabilitation protocol for those individuals who are experiencing hearing loss and for whom medical treatment is not warranted. The Audiologist determines the appropriateness of amplification, specifies which hearing instruments and circuits would be most appropriate, and plans a complete adjustment protocol to ensure that the patient will adjust to amplification and will benefit from the use of the system. The Audiologist follows the patient at regular intervals, determines the patient’s adaptation to amplification, the patient’s tendency to accumulate ear wax in the canals, and the environment in which the patient will wear the system. Audiologists may also recommend assistive listening devices such as alerting systems, or counsel the patient regarding the appropriateness of cochlear implants.

Audiologists also are strongly committed to preventing hearing loss and make information on the causes of hearing loss readily available. They provide hearing protection and counseling for those who are exposed to excessive noise either on the job or in outside hobbies. They also work closely with musicians. Audiologists can also fabricate ear protection for those who must, for specific medical reasons, prevent water from entering the ear canal such as while showering or swimming. Some become involved in forensic audiology, providing testimony in court cases. Audiologists work cooperatively with and coordinate appropriate healthcare and educational management with other healthcare providers such as physicians, physical therapists, optometrists, teachers, and speech-language pathologists. (From: American Academy of Dispensing Audiologists, 2004)

What are the Requirements for Certification as an Audiologist?

For many years the entry-level degree for the practice of audiology has been the masters degree. However, students seeking certification after January of 2007 will have to show 75 hours of graduate credit and after 2012 will also have to show a doctoral degree. Because of the increase in credit hours and the substantial increase in practicum requirements, programs, like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have changed from a two year masters degree to a four year doctoral degree. Because of this, the undergraduate degree is preparation for a doctoral degree in Audiology.  However, the undergraduate degree can also serve as a stepping stone to other graduate study in fields such as: medicine, psychology, optometry, special education, social work, physical therapy.

What Types of Doctoral Degrees are Available?

Two types of doctoral degrees are available for study in audiology.  The Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree is the professional degree for the practice of audiology. The course of study for the Au.D. centers on learning the skills necessary to practice audiology. The second type of doctoral degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. The Ph.D. degree is a graduate research degree and suited for those who wish to do research or teach in the areas of audiology and hearing science. Of course, it is possible to obtain both of these degrees although a student should expect to study for at least 5-6 years.

I Want to Major in Audiology. What Steps Should I Take?

You should inform the admissions office that you intend to major in audiology in College of Education and Human Sciences. Remember that at the undergraduate level the major is called "Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology," and is a "pre-professional" program of study. The college will assign you an advisor and that person will help you plan your course work for this major.  You will sign up for courses for your first semester at UNL at the time you attend New Student Orientation. The first course you will take as a Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology major is SLPA 150 Introduction to Communication Disorders.

After you have taken the first four Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology courses SLPA 150, 250, 251, and 271, students must apply to the PreProfessional Program.

I already have a Bachelors Degree, but not in Audiology.  What should I do?

Many of our majors come from other areas of undergraduate study. However, if you already have a degree in another field it would be a very good idea to first talk with a member of the audiology faculty before beginning that application process. You will not have to obtain another bachelors degree but you will have to make up approximately two semesters of prerequisite coursework.

Tell Me More About the Professional Doctoral Degree (Au.D.)

Once enrolled, students should expect to be exposed to a variety of courses and patient care to prepare them for an independent general practice of contemporary audiology. Professional doctorate degrees like the Au.D. typically do not require a research project and dissertation of the magnitude necessary for a research or science degree, i.e., Ph.D. or Sc.D., respectively. They will take an extensive series of courses designed to enable an audiology practitioner to diagnose and remediate a variety of auditory and vestibular disorders and identify patients with health conditions such as acoustic tumors and multiple sclerosis.

Other coursework will include classes such as: electronics; auditory and vestibular pathologies; hearing aids; assistive listening devises; auditory and vestibular anatomy and neuroanatomy; pediatric and geriatric audiology; deaf education; medical and surgical treatment of hearing and balance disorders; cochlear implants; genetics; pharmacology; radiology; forensic audiology; communication, remediation, rehabilitation of hearing and vestibular disorders; business and practice development; marketing; and industrial and recreational audiology.
From: American Academy of Dispensing Audiologists, 2004

In What Types of Settings Do Audiologist Practice?

An audiologist can be found practicing in a variety of different settings including but not limited to such sites as: An independent private practice, an otolaryngologist’s office, a pediatrician’s office, a health and/or medical clinic, a state funded facility for mental, physical, hearing, and/or learning challenged children and adults, universities, public school systems, state agencies and consumer advocacy programs, hospitals, industry and manufacturing facilities, charitable organizations, Veteran’s Administration facilities, or research facilities.
From: American Academy of Dispensing Audiologists, 2004

What is an Audiologists Scope of Practice?

Audiologist’s practice activities, once thought to be related exclusively to hearing disorders, have branched-out to include areas such as: balance/vestibular rehabilitation; tinnitus management; management of cerumen and foreign objects in the external auditory canal; noise abatement; expert witnesses; interoperative monitoring; evaluating and managing individuals with learning disabilities involving the central auditory processing system; industrial and recreational hearing conservation; in some instances visual and somatosensory evoked potential testing; and most recently middle ear implantable hearing devises. In addition, Audiologists may be involved in the management of hearing handicapped students in an educational setting. Audiologists may be trained to assist in the surgical implantation of cochlear implants and the long term training and management of these systems.
(From: American Academy of Dispensing Audiologists, 2004)

What Type of Income can I Expect as an Audiologist?

Au.D. programs have existed only since 1993. Income data is limited for audiologists graduating from four-year residential Au.D. programs. The following are the 1999 median incomes for years 1 and 2 in practice after graduating from a four year Au.D. program and how they compare to incomes of newly graduated optometrists and podiatrists:

Au.D. Audiologists - Year 1 $61,000 Year 2 $67,1000

Optometrists - Year 1 $60,1000 Year 2 $61,767

Podiatrists - Year 1 $57,714 Year 2 $64,714


While the Au.D. audiologists have not been in practice sufficiently long enough to establish long term median income, their future is bright. Since the newly graduated audiologist's income was commensurate with newly graduated optometrist's and podiatrist’s incomes, we can anticipate and predict long term income to follow these other doctoring professions.

In 1999 the median income for all optometrists was $100,940**, and podiatrist was $92,829**. If audiology follows optometry and podiatry, a doctor of audiology could acquire a total lifetime earning (including income and retirement fund) on the order of $4,209,409** - $6,011,884**.

* Article published by Larry Engelmann, Au.D. and Richard Burba, M.B.A.d

Will I be able to find a job? 2002-2003 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Audiology will be one of the fastest growing professions in the next decade, ranking in the top 30 out of 700 professions.  The number of positions in audiology is expected to climb by 45% between 2000 and 2010.

Where Can I Get More Information About UNL’s Audiology Program?

Visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Graduate Studies home page or the Audiology and Hearing Science home page.

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