What Is an Audiologist?

People often ask, “What’s the difference between an audiologist, a hearing aid dealer and a hearing aid dispenser?” Throughout the years, there has been a lot of consumer confusion and controversy over the terminology and professional roles in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. There is still some confusion today, especially since so many changes have taken place in the hearing loss field.

Audiologist vs. Hearing Aid Dealer vs. Hearing Aid Dispenser

An audiologist and a hearing aid dealer can both call themselves a hearing aid dispenser, dealer or specialist because they are licensed by the state to sell hearing aids. Only those with the highest educational standards and certification can call themselves an audiologist.

Audiologists, hearing aid dealers, dispensers and specialists all try to do the best job they can by finding the right hearing aid for every patient. But only the audiologist is qualified to diagnose, treat, habilitate and rehabilitate someone who has a hearing loss.

An audiologist is a professional who specializes in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. Most have earned an Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) while others have received a master’s degree from an accredited university, where they received extensive training in the prevention, identification, assessment and non-medical treatment of hearing and balance disorders. They have to complete an internship, pass a national competency examination and obtain professional certification and licensure in the state(s) where they practice.

On the other hand, hearing aid dispensers and dealers are required to have only completed high school or, in some states, possess a two-year degree. They must also pass a written and practical exam to earn a state license. They are trained solely in the interpretation of hearing assessment instrumentation, hearing device electronics and specifications, and programming hearing aids.

Audiologists work with patients of all ages, treating infants, children and adults for a variety of hearing and balance problems. They work in diverse settings like hospitals, schools, clinics, universities, private practices, VA hospitals, hearing aid dispensaries and otolaryngology (ENT) offices. Audiologists are responsible for services such as:

  • Fitting and dispensing hearing aids
  • Administering hearing and balance tests
  • Assessing candidacy for and programming implantable hearing devices (e.g., cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing aids, etc.)
  • Counseling patients and their families on communication strategies
  • Designing and implementing hearing conservation programs and newborn hearing screenings
  • Providing aural rehabilitation programs
  • Performing ear-related surgical monitoring

All in all, audiologists are the most qualified individuals to help you manage your hearing loss or balance disorder, and they provide an unparalleled breadth of care.

Call Acadian Hearing & Balance Center at (337) 237-0716 for more information or to schedule an appointment.