Audiologist

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 15 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have reported some trouble hearing, and one in eight over the age of 12 have hearing loss in both ears. Without adequate hearing, it can be very difficult for people to navigate the world, so professionals who can help improve or restore hearing are critical.

Audiologists are trained allied health professionals who can assess, prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing and balance disorders in patients. Treatments can include hearing aids, hearing assistive technology systems (HATS), audiologic rehabilitation, and cochlear implants. They work with patients of all ages, from performing hearing screenings on newborns to working with musicians with hearing loss and fitting elderly clients with hearing aids.  With proper care and therapy, audiologists can help improve the quality of life of their patients.

Becoming an audiologist takes dedication and training. At a minimum, audiologists have to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree. However, a doctorate in audiology (AuD) is becoming the industry standard. Audiologists must be licensed in the state where they provide services, and they can obtain voluntary certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to demonstrate a high level of competency in this field. 

While it may take a lot of schooling, audiology can be a lucrative career. On average, the 13,240 audiologists in the US earn $86,050 per year (BLS May 2021). The top 10 percent of earners in this field make $120,210 or more per year. Due to the aging Baby Boomer population, there is a high demand for professionals in this field. Between 2020 and 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 16 percent increase in jobs in this field nationally.  

Helping people hear better can have a profound impact on their lives. If this patient-centric allied health career sounds exciting, continue reading to learn what it takes to get started in this field.

Audiologist Specializations & Degree Types

There are two primary degrees that audiologists can earn. The first is a master’s of science in audiology or clinical audiology. The second and most commonly earned degree is a doctorate of audiology (AuD). 

Most states only require audiology licensure candidates to have completed a master’s degree, but an AuD degree is required for American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certification.

Admissions Requirements for Audiologist Programs

Admissions to AuD program can be very competitive; therefore, applicants must put forward the best application possible. The most common requirements for admission include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in communication science and disorders or a related field
  • Prerequisite coursework in English, statistics, human biology, physical sciences, and social and behavioral sciences
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA
  • GRE test scores
  • A statement of purpose
  • Current resume
  • An on-campus interview for finalists

Audiologist Program Accreditation

Accreditation assures students, employers, and certification and licensing bodies that a program has met a minimum level of quality in faculty, facilities, curriculum, and instruction. Students must ensure the programs they attend are accredited. Audiology doctorate programs are accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Presently, the CAA only accredits AuD programs. 

Students who attend a master’s level program should ensure that the school is accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education. The six regional accrediting agencies are the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

On-Campus Audiologist Degree Programs

James Madison University

One hundred percent of the students in the AuD program at James Madison University who take the PRAXIS exams have passed. This program has small cohorts of only seven to eight students, which allows for strong peer relationships and ample opportunity to interact with faculty. However, all classes in this program are designed to be taken in sequence, so there is little room for flexibility. The final year of this program is an externship clinical placement.  

There are graduate assistantships available to students in this program, which, if awarded, cover the cost of tuition and provide a stipend. To be considered for admission to this competitive program, candidates must submit an application, a current resume, three letters of recommendation, a statement of intent, and official transcripts. All finalists will be invited to campus for an in-person interview. 

  • Location: Harrisonburg, VA 
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: Fully funded through an assistantship

University of Arizona 

The AuD program at the University of Arizona meets all the requirements for certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Audiology. The academic coursework in this program covers hearing science and the treatments of hearing disorders. Clinical practices for this program are completed at the UA Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic and at other off-site clinics to provide students with a wide range of experiences. There is also a strong emphasis on original research in this program, and many students author or coauthor papers while pursuing this degree. 

Candidates can apply for admission to this program once they have completed a bachelor’s degree. There are no prerequisite coursework requirements. However, applicants are strongly encouraged to have taken classes in biology, physical sciences, behavioral sciences, and statistics. GRE scores are not required for admission to this program.  

  • Location: Tucson, AZ 
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: $35,144 per semester

California State University, Los Angeles – Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services

California State University, Los Angeles’ AuD program was started in 2019. This relatively new program features evidence-based practices that prepare graduates to be outstanding practitioners in this field. Students will study the scientific basis of audiology, causes of hearing loss and balance disorders, as well how to investigate complex diagnoses. There is also extensive training in state-of-the-art technologies and equipment to aid in diagnosis and treatment. 

There are no program completion statistics yet for this program, as the first cohort is set to graduate in 2022, but 100 percent of the students who have taken the PRAXIS exam to date have passed. To be eligible to apply for this program, candidates must have a bachelor’s in audiology or communication disorders or extensive prerequisite coursework. 

  • Location: Los Angele, CA
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: $7,871.24 per semester

University of Florida – College of Public Health and Health Professions

The campus-based AuD program at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions provides students with various hands-on experiences in diagnostic and rehabilitative audiology. 

This 110-credit program includes classes in science, statistics, applied audiology, neuro-otology, medical neuroscience, health care administration, cochlear implants, and programmable hearing aids. Students also received training in counseling and aging to be able to assist patients of all ages and backgrounds. 

The extensive clinical practicums for this program are completed at UF Health facilities, the University of Florida Health Science Center, and affiliated hospitals and private practice clinics. For the past three years, graduates of this program have had a 100 percent completion rate, PRAXIS exam passing scores, and employment within six months of graduation.  

  • Location: Gainesville, FL 
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: $1,255.41 per credit

Central Michigan University – Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions

The focus of the AuD program at Central Michigan University Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions is to prepare students to be successful audiologists. To do this, students will not only attend classroom lectures but will also perform hands-on clinical experiences and participate with faculty on relevant research. This program is the oldest standing audiology degree in the country. 

The final year of this program is a year-long externship during which students will complete the clinical supervision hours required for licensure and certification. Many students will complete their externship at the Central Michigan University Audiology clinic, where they will care for patients from infancy through adulthood. 

  • Location: Mount Pleasant, MI 
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: $425 to $450 per credit 

Illinois State University

Students of the AuD Degree program at Illinois State University receive a high-quality education that prepares them for work as audiologists. The program has a dual focus on clinical education and academic coursework. Graduates have a strong understanding of ethics, compassion, and professionalism to provide the highest level of care to patients who have hearing and balance disorders. Clinical experiences during the first three years prepare students for the year-long residency during their fourth and final year of this program. 

In total, students must earn 86 credit hours to earn this degree. Fifty-four credits are in academic classes, 26 clinical credits, and the final six are a capstone independent study. To be eligible for admissions, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, provide a statement of purpose, submit three letters of recommendation, and provide an up-to-date resume. 

  • Location: Normal, IL 
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: $33,285 per year

Wayne State University – College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The main objective of the AuD program at Wayne State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is to prepare students with the best clinical education available. The curriculum in this program meets the standards for certification through the ASHA and licensure as an audiologist in Michigan. From the first semester in this program, students are engaged in clinical observations and practice to get hands-on experience early on. 

The majority of the clinical practice in this program takes place in the Speech and Language Center. However, to provide students with well-rounded training, they will also have secondary assignments at schools, community agencies, and health care centers. There is also a rotation through the Henry Ford Health System Division of Audiology, a nonprofit, integrated medical system located in the Detroit Metro area that cares for economically and culturally diverse patients. 

  • Location: Detroit, MI 
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: $1,527.07 per credit 

Western Washington University – College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Since 2017 Western Washington University College of Humanities and Social Sciences has offered an outstanding AuD program. While this program does prepare students for entry-level work as audiologists, it also has an emphasis for students wanting to complete PhD-level studies after earning an AuD. The first three years of this degree are coursework and clinical practicums, while the fourth year is a full-time externship. Classes in this program are completed in a lockstep order with a cohort of students. 

The clinical experiences for this program take place primarily in the on-campus clinic, although some off-site rotations are included to give students a well-rounded experience. The externships take place at an off-campus site coordinated with the school. 

Typical locations include schools, hospitals, and clinics. However, students may request placement at a site of their choosing, regardless of geographic location, and the school will accommodate if they can.  

  • Location: Bellingham, WA
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
  • Tuition: $1666 per credit

Online or Hybrid Audiologist Degree Program

Due to the hands-on nature of audiology programs, there are no online degree options. However, audiologists who have already earned a master’s degree and have clinical experience can complete an online bridge program to earn an AuD. Here are two such programs. 

Salus University – Osborne College of Audiology

Salus University Osborne College of Audiology offers a two-year distance learning AuD bridge program. To be eligible for this program, candidates must already have a master’s degree or higher in audiology or an equivalent field. Completing this program will help professionals in audiology be up to date with the most recent advancements in audiology and understand the fundamentals of neuroscience and public health. 

Required coursework for this program includes classes such as cochlear implants, advanced auditory biology, sound transmission into the cochlea, pediatric audiology, and auditory processing disorders. It should be noted that this program may not qualify graduates for licensure in some states, so students should check with their local board to ensure they have the necessary qualifications.  

  • Location: Elkins Park, PA 
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $450 per credit 

A.T. Still University Arizona – School of Health Sciences

Professionals working in audiology who want to pursue an AuD degree can do so through the online post-professional program at A.T. Still University Arizona School of Health Sciences. This program can be completed in two to three years of distance learning, depending on the level of previous education and the number of years of relevant clinical experience. The structure of this program allows students to continue their clinical practice while pursuing an advanced degree. 

With two cohort start dates in January and July, students can jump into this program when it best suits their schedule. Courses are four or ten weeks in length and include video techniques, web-based instruction, discussion boards, directed readings, and clinically applicable projects. 

  • Location: Mesa, AZ 
  • Duration: Two to three years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $8,240 to $7,726 per year

How Long Does it Take to Become an Audiologist?

Audiologists must complete at least a master’s degree in audiology, although a doctor of audiology is recommended. A master’s typically takes two years, while a doctorate takes four. So it takes between seven to eight years of education post-high school to start a career as an audiologist.

How To Become an Audiologist – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Obtain a GED (Four Years)

Becoming an audiologist starts with graduating from high school or obtaining a GED. Students interested in this career should focus on classes like psychology, math, and science to help prepare them for additional studies. 

Step 2: Complete a Bachelors’ Degree (Four Years)

Aspiring audiologists must earn a bachelor’s degree to work in this field. The most common major completed is in communication sciences and disorders. However, students can complete their undergraduate degree in a related field so long as they take the prerequisite coursework to apply for an advanced degree program. 

Step 3: Obtain an Advanced Degree (Two to Four Years)

At a minimum, audiologists must complete a master’s of science in audiology. However, the most common degree completed is a doctor of audiology (AuD). A master’s degree typically takes two years to complete, while an AuD takes four. 

Step 4: Obtain Certification and State Licensure (Timeline Varies)

All states require that audiologists be licensed to provide service to patients. Certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is voluntary and demonstrates competency in audiology. Some states may accept ASHA certification for their licensure requirements. See the certification and licensure section below for more details.

What Do Audiologists Do?

Audiologists can work in various settings, including hospitals, private clinics, schools, and speech and hearing centers. Day-to-day duties can vary based on place of employment but typically include:

  • Administering hearing tests
  • Utilizing state of the art equipment to measure hearing loss
  • Fitting patients with hearing aids
  • Educating clients on how to use hearing assistive devices or read lips
  • Removing ear wax or other objects in the ear
  • Referring patients to other specialists as necessary
  • Providing education on how to prevent hearing loss
  • Maintaining client records

Audiologist Certifications & Licensure

Audiologists must be licensed in all 50 states. Requirements for licensure vary by state but typically include education, passing an exam, and clinical practice hours. For example, in Washington, the requirements are:

  • A master’s or doctorate in audiology that includes a clinical practicum
  • 36 weeks of full-time experience or a part-time equivalent post-graduate work experience
  • A PRAXIS exam score
  • Four clock hours in AIDS education and training

Certification is a voluntary step audiologists can take to demonstrate a high level of competency in this field. The primary certification body for audiologists is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). In some states, ASHA certification may meet the requirements for licensure. To obtain ASHA certification candidate must:

  • Graduated from a doctoral program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) 
  • Pass the PRAXIS exam with a score of 162 or higher
  • Pay the $455 certification fee or the $511 certification and ASHA membership fee

How Much Do Audiologists Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021), the 13,240 audiologists in the US earn $86,050 per year. The percentiles for wages are:

  • 10th percentile: $58,920
  • 25th percentile: $71,390
  • 50th percentile (median): $78,950
  • 75th percentile: $99,340
  • 90th percentile: $120,210

Audiologists Career Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives to a career as an audiologist. 

Become a Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists work one-on-one with clients to help overcome speech impediments, swallowing issues, and communication problems. They assess individuals, write treatment plans to address their specific problems, provide therapy services, and educate family members on how to help patients improve. 

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree 
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Become a Registered Respiratory Therapist

Respiratory therapists care for patients who have breathing problems. These problems can arise from acute illness or injury or from chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Most respiratory therapists work with the general population, although they can specialize in neonatal, sleep disorders, or critical care. 

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) 

Become a Physician Associate (Assistant)

Physician assistants are trained healthcare providers offerring many of the same services that physicians can, including primary care, medication prescription, and illness diagnosis. They typically have to work under the supervision of a physician, but this can vary from state to state.  

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

Related Articles

  • 22 April 2022

    Education Guide for Treating Speech and Hearing Disorders

    While audiologists, audiology assistants, speech-language pathologists, and speech-language pathology assistants may work together in a professional sense, their educational pathways differ in significant ways.

  • 24 September 2021

    National Physical Therapy Month: An Expert’s Advocacy Guide for PTs

    What started as a profession primarily concerned with getting war veterans and casualties back up on their feet is now a highly scientific and broad-ranging field that helps people manage pain, recover from injuries, reduce the risk of future injury and chronic disease, and improve overall life quality.

  • 16 April 2021

    Speech-Language Pathologists: The Fight for Universal Licensure & Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM)

    The salaries among New York-based SPLs are attractive, ranking the fifth highest in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For students in speech pathology looking to begin their careers in New York, this is welcome news, but for the medical community and citizens of the state, the sharp projected increase in demand for SLPs presents a forthcoming challenge to fill new positions that needs to be addressed.

  • 29 March 2022

    Alcohol Awareness Month Advocacy Guide

    SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says that alcohol is the most frequently used and misused substance in the United States. Alcohol misuse is especially prevalent among people who are college-aged and younger populations.

  • 10 February 2022

    National Save Your Vision Month – An Advocacy Guide for Optometry Professionals

    While these increased risks should mean that Americans should be heading to their optometrists in greater numbers, stay-at-home orders have discouraged individuals from scheduling appointments with their optometrists.

  • 26 January 2022

    Kids ENT Health Month: An Expert’s Advocacy Guide

    The primary focus of Kids ENT Health Month 2022 is on preventing noise-induced hearing loss in children. Between 12 to 15 percent of children have some level of hearing loss.

  • 18 November 2021

    Guide to Nursing Careers in Long-Term Care

    Geriatric nursing in long-term care can prove a rewarding career with many roles and room to grow. Nurses are the heart of long-term care and older adults are a unique population with whom to work.