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Audiology is the science of hearing and balance and associated disorders.
Audiologists are health care professionals with graduate degrees who assess and manage hearing and balance problems for patients of all ages. Using audiometers, computers and numerous other testing devices, audiologists determine the severity and type of hearing loss and which aspects of the overall balance system may be involved in the patient's symptoms.
Audiologists interpret test results and often develop a plan of treatment with other health care professionals, including physicians, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, classroom teachers, social workers and psychologists.
Audiologists may specialize in the selection and fitting of hearing aids and cochlear implants, as well as training and counseling patients in the use of various assistive listening devices. They also may be responsible for managing hearing conservation and hearing loss prevention programs for individuals exposed to intense noise levels, assisting people with management of tinnitus, and coordinating educational plans for children with hearing loss. They may conduct research to enhance knowledge about hearing and balance function.
Audiology work settings include clinics, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, private practice, and hearing aid manufacturing.
Employment of audiologists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2022. Because hearing loss is strongly associated with aging, rapid growth in the population age 55 and over will cause the number of people with hearing impairment to increase markedly.
In addition, baby boomers are in middle age or beyond, when the possibility of neurological disorders and associated speech, language and hearing impairments increases. Medical advances also are improving the survival rate of premature infants and trauma and stroke victims, who then need assessment and possible treatment.
According to the Department of Labor, the median annual salary for audiologists with a clinical doctorate was about $70,000 in 2012 (most recent data available). For those with research doctorates, the median annual salary was $96,097. For an audiologist with one to three years of experience, the median starting annual salary was $60,000.
In addition to base salaries, audiologists also report commissions and bonuses.