We are frequently asked by patients in our office, “What’s the difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dealer? I thought everyone who performs hearing tests is an audiologist.”
Hearing Aid Dealers are limited to testing hearing solely for the purposes of fitting hearing aids. Unlike Audiologists, they may not engage in, nor are they trained to complete diagnostic hearing or balance examinations nor participate in the assessment of patients with tinnitus. Audiologists are uniquely qualified and trained to identify a wide variety of pathology and underlying medical conditions of the hearing and balance systems and to refer these cases for appropriate medical or surgical treatment.
Not only is the scope of practice different, but the training is vastly different as well. To become an audiologist requires eight years of college and completion of a fellowship year. To be more specific, the requirements for Audiologists include:
- Master’s or Doctoral degree in Audiology
- Minimum of 350 hours of patient care hours obtained in an accredited college or university, in a cooperating program of an accredited college or university, or in another program approved by the board.
- He/she submits to the board evidence that he has passed the examination for licensure to practice
- Have successfully completed a minimum of two thousand clock hours of clinical extern experience in the fourth year of academic training supervised by preceptor
The requirements for License as a Hearing Aid Dealer includes (as written in the Ohio Revised Code):
- 18 years old
- good moral character
- free of contagious or infectious disease
- High School diploma or equivalent education (GED)
- pass qualifying examination specified and administered by board.
The credentials behind the name of the hearing healthcare provider will indicate whether that person is an audiologist or a hearing aid dealer. Audiologists will list the following; MA, MS, PhD, AuD and the word Audiologist after their name. Hearing aid dealers might list HIS which stands for hearing instrument specialist.