Improving your hearing to improve your life

Audiologist or Hearing Aid Specialist? What's the Difference?

Read on to discover the differences between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist.

You may have noticed a significant change to your hearing lately. It’s possible that you are struggling to hear certain volumes or pitches that you previously could. Alternatively, you might find that your hearing is distorted is some way. Sounds might seem muffled or could even echo. It’s important to be proactive and take action by visiting a specialist. There are different types of hearing care professionals available, including audiologists and hearing aid specialists. What are the differences between these two providers?

Hearing aid specialist explained

Also known as a hearing instrument specialist or dispenser, a hearing aid specialist must have at least a high school diploma regardless of what state they are operating in. In some states, they may also be required to have a two-year degree from a college. 

Hearing aid specialists will also be required to pass a practical and written exam. This ensures they become licensed by the state where they practice. A national exam may also be required and they may need to become board-certified hearing instrument specialists.

Hearing aid specialists are trained in the hearing assessment instrumentation. They may be able to complete hearing tests, but only with the intention of fitting hearing aids. Similarly, they also have training in device electronics as well as programming and specifications. 

Audiologist explained 

In contrast an audiologist has a significantly higher level of training. They hold a graduate-level degree in audiology. As such, they will be required to pass through more than eight years of training. They have certification at both a national and state level. 

An audiologist is also licensed for practice by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Board. Similar to a hearing instrument specialist, they are able to fit hearing aids, recommend listening devices and perform hearing evaluations. However, an audiologist has all-encompassing knowledge in the anatomy of the auditory system, so they can provide more thorough hearing testing and assessment. They will be able to define what type of hearing loss you have and possibly explain any causes. An audiologist can provide extensive support to a patient who is suffering from hearing loss that has been caused by nerve damage. 

The key differences

As can be clearly seen, the main difference here is the level of training and education required for each role. The training and education of an audiologist is far more comprehensive and will cover fitting hearing devices as well as all aspects of hearing health care. 

While a hearing aid specialist is limited to providing the right hearing aid support, an audiologist can complete a deep dive into a hearing issue. For instance, they will be able to offer an evaluation and diagnosis of a hearing issue. Hearing problems can be caused by a range of medical issues. An audiologist will be able to pinpoint this and ensure that they are able to provide the right treatment option. 

Similarly, an audiologist will be able to provide counseling and support for the individual impacted by the hearing issue and anyone else in their life. This could include individual family members. Ultimately, an audiologist will offer a comprehensive solution from initial diagnosis through to final treatment. They can handle every aspect of the role that a hearing aid specialist provides as well as crucial additional levels of support. 

Which will be right for you?

While both professionals offer similar services, it’s typically recommended that you see an audiologist when experiencing issues with your auditory system. They are going to be able to provide more information on the issue with your hearing and ensure that you get the ultimate level of support. Critically, they can provide a diagnosis of problems beyond the typical hearing conditions like hearing loss and tinnitus, in addition to balance issues. Balance can play a critical element in hearing issues and disorders that you may be suffering from.

They are also equally qualified to help you select the right hearing aid for your specific needs. They will walk you through the process of determining the style and features most beneficial to you, and will help you understand how to care for and operate your device.

We hope this helps you understand the key differences between an audiologist and a hearing aid specialist. To learn more about Audiology and Hearing Aid Services and the audiologists we have on staff, contact (912) 351-3038. We will be able to deliver expert advice and support regardless of whether you need your hearing tested or treatment for hearing loss.