Career Profile: Audiologist

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Job Description:

Audiologists work with people who have hearing, balance and related ear problems, and help those afflicted with hearing and other ear problems manage their conditions.

They work with other health professionals as a team, and work with patients of all ages, from young infants and children to adults and seniors. Audiologists keep records on their patients, to track progress, point out problems, and provide a resource to recommend courses of action. While some audiologists specialist in a certain age group, others work in a more preventative fashion, using their training to implement ways to protect workers' from on-the-job ear injuries, through measuring noise levels and conducting hearing protection programs.

Work Environment:

Most full-time audiologists put in 40-hour weeks, usually at a desk in a clean, comfortable environment. While the work isn't physically taxing, high levels of concentration and attention to detail are required. Some audiologists may find themselves working on weekends or during the evening, to accommodate the needs of their patients.

Education and Training Requirements:

48 states require a license to practice audiology; in almost all of these states a master's degree or the equivalent is currently required as well, although a clinical doctoral degree will soon become the new standard. A passing score on a national examination on audiology offered through the Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service is needed as well. There are also clinical requirements: 300 to 375 hours of supervised clinical experience, as well as nine months of postgraduate professional experience are the norm requirements.

Salary Range:

Median annual earnings of audiologists were $48,400 in 2002. Audiologists who work on a calendar-year schedule (11-12 months per annum) earn around $52,000, while those who work on a more academic-year schedule (9-10 months per annum) earned a median annual salary of $47,500.

Job Outlook:

Employment of audiologists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012. Hearing loss and other problems are strongly associated with aging, and as the population continues to age, the number of persons suffering from hearing loss will grow exceptionally.

Audiologists will also find more employment opportunities in educational services, as advances in technology and awareness, as well as early detection of hearing disorders gains prevalence. Federal law guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities, and early detection of hearing difficulties will lead to an increase in employment numbers for qualified audiologists.

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