People communicate through conversation, which is the foundation of all types of relationships, both personal and professional. For those with speech-related barriers to communication, there can be challenges to building these connections. Communication-based impairments are common in the United States; in fact, an estimated 40 million Americans struggle with speech, language, and/or hearing disorders, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Professionals in the field of communication sciences and disorders, such as speech-language pathologists, speech and hearing scientists, audiologists, and audiologist assistants, use their expertise to make a lasting impact in the lives of others by reducing barriers to communication. They deliver a variety of solutions, such as hearing aids, speech therapy, and other treatments or technologies that help their clients live fuller, more connected lives.
What Does an Audiologist Assistant Do?
Before learning how to become an audiologist assistant, a candidate should first understand the responsibilities of the position. Audiologist assistants work under the supervision of a certified or licensed audiologist to improve patient care. Their contributions increase productivity and patient satisfaction while reducing wait times and patient costs by providing audiology services that do not require a certified or licensed audiologist.
The duties of an audiologist assistant vary, depending on the level of training, available supervision, local laws, and work environment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Generally, supervising audiologists assign assistants some duties that require direct supervision, as well as some that require indirect supervision. Some of the tasks an audiologist assistant may perform include maintaining equipment and tools, repairing hearing aids, and checking the functionality of audiology equipment. Audiologist assistants may also conduct neonatal screenings to help identify whether a newborn may have hearing loss.
Other responsibilities of an audiologist assistant can include preparing patients for electrophysiologic and balance testing, as well as assisting the supervising audiologist during testing. Assistants may also perform administrative tasks, such as record keeping, and can sometimes assist in clinical research.
Overall, what audiologist assistants do is support audiologists in performing routine tasks, allowing them to devote more time to complex evaluations, diagnostics, management, and treatment that requires their level of expertise. Audiologist assistants’ support allows audiologists to develop a more comprehensive patient care strategy, ultimately improving patient outcomes.
How to Become an Audiologist Assistant
There are several steps required to become an audiologist assistant, including getting the appropriate education, licensing, and training.
Complete Your Education
The minimum accepted educational level for an audiologist assistant is a high school diploma or equivalent certificate and the completion of a competency-based training program. According to the American Academy of Audiology, aspiring audiologist assistants can receive training through a technician program in the military, a bachelor’s degree program at a college or university, or an on-the-job training program developed and supervised by an audiologist.
Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders can help students develop skills fundamental to the audiologist assistant position, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication competencies. Students can build a foundation in speech science, language development, and audiology. Through this program, students gain the specialized knowledge and clinical skills to help patients of all ages develop or regain the ability to communicate. This program can qualify students for work as an assistant in various healthcare settings, including hospitals and health clinics, schools and child care providers, early intervention centers, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, and research centers.
Meet the Licensure and Registration Requirements
In addition to education, audiologist assistants must consult licensure and registration laws, which vary from state to state. For example, Ohio and Texas require audiologist assistant licensure but not registration, whereas California and Alabama require registration but not licensure.
Undergo Training to Gain Experience
Experience can have a major influence on audiologist assistants’ professional growth opportunities. The supervising audiologist will provide hands-on training to assistants and determine when an assistant is prepared to perform the necessary duties. Many employers require annual continuing education courses to keep assistants up to date on industry standards for quality patient care. Audiologists typically document audiologist assistant training to ensure assistants remain proficient in the role.
Audiologist Assistant Salary
There are several factors that can shape the audiologist assistant salary range, such as experience level and job location. PayScale reports the average salary for audiologist assistants is $66,000 based on data provided by members of the workforce.
Employment Outlook for Audiologist Assistants
The demand for professionals with expertise in communication-based impairments such as language disorders is on the rise. As the population ages, more people will experience hearing and speech difficulties. The U.S. Census Bureau projects there will be 98.2 million people age 65 and older by 2060, and a number of these individuals will likely require audiology services and devices, such as hearing aids.
In fact, according to recent data from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), nearly 25% of those between the ages of 65 and 74 have disabling hearing loss, and that number doubles to 50% for those over 75. The NIDCD reports that approximately 28.8 million Americans could benefit from hearing aids. As technology continues to advance, the early detection of hearing and speech disorders — specifically in infants and children — can improve patient care.
The BLS projects employment in speech, hearing, and language development will grow at a faster-than-average rate between 2016 and 2026. and the employment of audiologists will grow 21% — much faster than the average for all occupations (7%). As the demand for audiologists grows, there will be additional opportunities for audiologist assistants to help provide quality patient care.
Learn More About How to Become an Audiologist Assistant
If you want the opportunity to help individuals find their voice and make meaningful connections through communication, Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders can help you achieve your goals. When you earn your degree, you develop the specialized skills in speech science, language development, and audiology to break through communication barriers and take a critical step forward on your career path in the audiology field. Learn more about Maryville University’s program and apply today.