Audiologist vs. Hearing Aid Specialists
In the state of Florida, both audiologists and hearing aid specialists hold state licensure which allow the practitioner to sell and dispense hearing aids. The requirement for state licensure is based on the need to protect the well-being of the patient. While both types of professionals are licensed to work with hearing aids, the steps necessary to obtain licensure are significantly different between professionals.
At minimum, audiologists complete an undergraduate and graduate training program and a supervised clinical fellowship prior to obtaining state licensure. Since 2007, audiologists have been required to obtain a clinical doctorate, known as the Au.D. (Doctor of Audiology) degree, before entering the profession. The transition to the Au.D. degree reflects the increasing scope of practice for audiologists, and the need for further training given the major advances in technology and professional responsibilities. During their Au.D. program, most audiologists complete clinical rotations in a wide variety of practice settings, including hospitals, private clinics, schools, and industrial settings. Before obtaining state licensure, audiologists must pass a national examination of core competencies is the diagnosis and management of hearing and balance disorders.
Audiologists now complete at least 8 years of college before being eligible to practice (4-year undergraduate degree, 4-year Au.D. program).
Hearing Aid Specialist
Hearing aid specialists are also licensed by the state of Florida; however, the process of obtaining licensure is significantly different than that of an audiologist. To obtain licensure as a hearing aid specialist, the practitioner must be a graduate of an accredited high school or its equivalent, complete a Hearing Aid Specialist Training Program which consists of at least 6 months of training under the direct supervision on a licensed hearing aid specialist, and pass a licensure examination.
The differences in educational requirements for audiologists versus hearing aid specialists reflects the much larger scope of professional practice that audiologists are licensed to engage in. Audiologists receive extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and balance disorders, as well as the fitting, adjustment, and verification of hearing aid, cochlear implant, and implantable hearing aid devices.