About the job
Audiologists are licensed health care professionals who evaluate, diagnose and treat disorders of hearing and balance.
"Most people haven’t heard of (the profession) until they need one," said Ron D’Angelo, an audiologist with Clear Choice Hearing and Balance in Greece. (The business has another office in Brighton.) "Most people who have encountered an audiologist … ended up being fitted for a hearing aid. That’s the lion’s share of what most of us do."
D’Angelo said his primary role is diagnosing hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), dizziness and more. He interviews patients about how long the situation has been ongoing, what medications they take and more. Some problems may be caused by a buildup of ear wax. Various medications also can affect balance.
"The ear is primarily a balance organ, one of the major organs of hearing and balance," D’Angelo said. "We examine ears from the outside in."
That includes clearing the ear canal of wax, testing the middle ear for changes in pressure, and doing hearing tests. Audiologists work in doctors’ offices, private practice, hospitals, clinics and schools.
An interest in science and medicine is important, D’Angelo said. An audiologist should be able to develop a good rapport with patients to put them at ease, he added, and be a good counselor.
"You have to develop information that people can understand, put things in plain English," D’Angelo said.
Audiologists work with other medical professionals, so they should also have good report-writing skills. Adaptability is also important.
Audiologists must have a doctoral degree and be licensed. D’Angelo said the schooling includes a four-year, post-graduate degree at a school of audiology. He went to Syracuse University. The University at Buffalo also offers a Doctor of Audiology program.
To be licensed in New York state, audiologists need to complete nine months of supervised experience and pass a written exam. They are required to complete 30 hours of "continuing competency learning activities" every three years, according to the state Department of Labor.
What the job pays
Salaries vary greatly depending on the setting in which an audiologist works, D’Angelo said. The state Department of Labor lists the median salary in the Finger Lakes region at roughly $75,000.
The job picture
This appears to be a growing field. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth through 2030 at 16% or “much faster than average.”
D’Angelo said that expected growth is due to several factors, including an aging population with a greater need in help with hearing loss. Another reason is expanded work responsibilities for audiologists.
'The visibility of our field is growing, partly because of marketing and partly because of a greater knowledge to primary physicians of what we can do to help with vertigo," D’Angelo said.
"We’re a good first stop for people who are experiencing problems with hearing, ringing in the ears or dizziness," D’Angelo said. "We work closely with medical doctors."
Where to learn more
To learn more about Clear Choice: www.clearchoiceofrochester.com
The American Academy of Audiology’s website: www.audiology.org
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website: www.asha.org
Other job opportunities
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: How to become an audiologist in New York state