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The Differences Between an Audiologist and Hearing Instrument Specialist

Two Hearing Doctors

If you’ve been having trouble with your hearing of late or you’ve been thinking about booking a hearing test, you may have come across a number of terms, including audiologist and hearing instrument specialist. If you haven’t been advised to see a specific person, you might be confused about where you need to go and why these two professions are different. If you’re keen to learn more about the key differences between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist, hopefully, you’ll find this guide useful.

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a health professional with expertise and advanced training in diagnosing, assessing, treating and managing conditions and symptoms including hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders. Audiologists have to complete many years of study and practical training to gain a college degree followed by a Master’s or a Doctorate qualification. During the period of study, many choose to specialize in certain areas, but all audiologists complete core elements that enable them to treat a wide range of patients. The audiology course contains a series of modules, examples of which include anatomy and physiology, hearing loss and balance disorders, communication development and pharmacology.

In addition to theoretical learning, audiologists must also complete supervised training in clinical settings. Audiologists continue to train and develop their skills after they have qualified and they are trained to advise and counsel patients, as well as to identify effective treatment pathways. To continue practicing, audiologists must satisfy state requirements, which insist upon continual professional development.

What is a hearing instrument specialist?

Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists may complete some of the same tasks, but they are not the same. Hearing instruments specialists do not have the level of training and expertise that audiologists have and they provide a narrower range of services. Hearing instrument specialists offer services that are designed to test hearing and help patients choose the right hearing aid. Hearing instrument specialists can also fit hearing aids. The qualifications required to be a hearing instrument specialist or a hearing aid provider vary from one state to another. In some cases, a high school diploma is sufficient to pursue this career path while in other states, individuals must complete a two-year college course.

What are the main differences?

The most significant difference between audiologists and hearing instrument specialists is the level of education. Audiologists are experts in their field and they have many years of study and training under their belts. Students are required to sit and complete exams and undertake practical exams before they graduate and many go on to pursue further study. As an audiologist, you must also continue to study once you have qualified. Hearing instrument specialists do not always have to have to have degree-level qualifications and it doesn’t take as long to qualify. As audiologists have additional training and a wider skill set, they are able to offer a much broader spectrum of services and they treat patients with a range of conditions and symptoms related to hearing loss, tinnitus and problems that affect balance and coordination. Hearing instrument specialists usually focus on testing hearing, providing advice about hearing aids and fitting hearing aids. When it comes to assessing hearing, hearing instrument specialists carry out tests specifically for the purpose of dispensing hearing aids. An audiologist will often conduct more thorough assessments to learn more about the extent and nature of hearing loss and rule out underlying causes, which may be contributing to impaired hearing.

Do I need to see an audiologist?

If you’re worried that your hearing may have deteriorated, you have symptoms of tinnitus that are getting worse or you have issues related to your balance, it’s advisable to consult an audiologist. Audiologists are experts in hearing loss, balance disorders and tinnitus and they can assess and examine you to determine a potential cause and identify the best treatment options. If you already have hearing aids and you have questions about caring for them or you’re interested in seeing if a different type of hearing aid would suit you better, you can seek advice from your audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist.

If you’re not familiar with the different types of hearing specialist, it can be confusing. You might not know where to turn for advice or who to see if you’re struggling with tinnitus or your hearing aid problems. If you have any concerns about your hearing or your hearing aids or you’ve started to experience recurrent symptoms of tinnitus, why not get in touch with us today? At Hearing Solution Center, we have a team of highly-skilled, friendly audiologists ready and waiting to help. Call us at (704) 912-4422 to speak to an audiologist today!