Hearing aid specialists are also known as hearing instrument specialists and hearing aid practitioners. They conduct and analyze tests to determine the extent and nature of a patient’s hearing loss, then dispense and fit auditory devices.
These health-care professionals provide consultation and instruction to help people operate their hearing aids. They maintain the devices, assist audiologists in conducting medical procedures in the ears, and teach patients rehabilitation techniques.
Hearing aid specialists generally work full-time hours in retail settings. The demand for their services is expected to grow, as the population ages and more people experience hearing loss. Practitioners enjoy a middle-class salary and the fulfillment of knowing they help patients lead more enjoyable lives.
Hearing Aid Specialist Job Description
Hearing aid specialists meet with patients to learn about their complaints and symptoms, then conduct several tests to measure auditory functions. Diagnostic procedures include bone and air conduction tests, as well as a speech audiometry test. Several screening methods are also employed. They include an examination of the ear canal, which entails the use of a otoscope.
Through analysis of test results, a specialist can determine the type of hearing aid that will best serve a patient’s needs. Part of the job is to make impressions for earmolds and hearing aid shells, so the devices fit properly inside the ear.
Hearing aid specialists continue to work with patients after they have received assistive listening devices, providing instruction in the use and maintenance of the devices.
Another job duty is to assist audiologists in measuring ears, examining auditory brain stem responses, mapping cochlear implants, and conducting speech audiometry and electronystagmography tests. Hearing aid specialists refer patients with serious hearing or balance disorders to audiologists.The responsibilities of a hearing aid specialist include:
- Interview patients to learn their symptoms and medical histories;
- Conduct screenings and tests to determine the severity and type of hearing impairment;
- Carry out basic hearing test such as bone conduction, air conduction, speech audiometry tests, etc.;
- Analyze test findings to make diagnoses, then discuss possible solutions with patients;
- Recommend and dispense assistive listening devices;
- Take measurements and make earmolds to ensure that hearing aids fit properly;
- Instruct patients in how to use and maintain the devices, providing demonstrations and information;
- Assist audiologists with nonsurgical procedures designed to treat hearing disorders;
- Modify devices that have already been placed in patients’ ears, to make them function or fit better;
- Make repairs and replace defective parts;
- Teach patients aural rehabilitation techniques;
- Create and maintain customer computer files;
- Train other staffers, if required by the employer;
- Receive continuing education and read professional publications to stay up-to-date on medical knowledge and techniques.
Hearing Aid Specialist Prerequisites
Good communication and people skills are needed for this profession. Hearing aid specialists must be able to obtain the necessary information from patients, and explain medical procedures in an understandable way. They have to know how to work with all sorts of people, including seniors and children.
People suffering from auditory impairment may be anxious or upset. A hearing aid specialist should be calm and resassuring, whle exuding confidence and professionalism.
How to become a Hearing Aid Specialist
To enroll in a hearing aid specialist education program, a student must have completed high school or earned a GED degree. Technical schools and colleges offer two-year programs in this specialty. Courses include audiology, ear anatomy, and hearing aid technology. Many states mandate graduation from such a program to practice in the field.
In states that require a license, a training program also must be completed. Prospective hearing aid specialists work with licensed hearing aid dispensers for a year before they are allowed to practice on their own.
High school and college students considering careers in this field are advised to concentrate on science and math classes. Experience in sales and customer service also may prove helpful in obtaining employment.
Hearing Aid Specialist Certification
Some states require graduates to pass the state’s licensing exam in order to practice as a hearing aid specialist. Apprenticeships are available in these states to prepare students for the tests. More information may be found on the websites of states’ medical-licensing boards.
The National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences provides certification to hearing aid specialists who have worked at least two years in the field and hold a state license. Some employers require job applicants to possess a certificate as either a hearing aid specialist or audiologist.
Hearing Aid Specialist Salary
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Hearing Aid Specialist Job Description SummaryHere is a short recap of the hearing aid specialist job description:
- Evaluate, fit, and counsel hearing aids
- Work with audiologists
- No formal education required (in some states)
- No certification required (in some states)