A common question among patients in the market for a hearing device is “What’s the difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dealer?”.  It might arise from a patient searching for a second opinion or the result of a disappointing experience with a dealer. To properly address the differences, one must understand the time and education required for both occupations.

The road to becoming an audiologist begins in their undergraduate studies. Here, aspiring audiologists are trained in a host of subjects, from anatomy and physiology, to amplification devices and acoustics, just to name a few. From there, students enter their graduate studies with a focus on medical, diagnostic and rehabilitative aspects of hearing loss, hearing aids and the vestibular system. Once the 8 years of schooling are complete, audiologists must complete a supervised externship, followed by a national standard examination in order to be eligible for state licensure. But it doesn’t stop there – it order for an audiologist to maintain their state licensure, they must fulfill continuing education requirements.

Now let’s change gears to hearing aid dispensers. In terms of education, the criteria varies from state to state – with some states only requiring a high school diploma while others require a minimum of two years of college or post-secondary education in any subject (some state require completion of distance learning coursework). From there, hearing aid dispensers must pass a qualifying examination.

As you can see, the degree of difficulty in becoming an audiologist vs. a hearing aid dispenser is quite disparate. Regardless of which you choose, remember to always do your research.