Questions about Audiology

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Hey everyone. I recently found out about Audiology, and I like the field because I have had hearing problems/loss since I was a child. I have not read very many positive posts about this profession. I have been to an Audiologist, and I have talked with the Audiologist I went for my hearing loss. My questions are: does any expect AuD’s to get a salary increase? Are you happy with your job? What would you say to someone who thought about becoming an AuD? Is this field growing and expanding?

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Hi there,

I'm sorry that you haven't received many responses on this. I'm an audiologist. I've been practicing for 3 years, so, hopefully I can help you with your questions...

Will AuD’s salaries increase?
This is always a very hot topic in our field. A lot of people question the return on investment regarding the cost of a doctoral program in comparison to the salary of an AuD. What I've found, since graduation, is that audiologists are limited to earnings regarding the environment he or she chooses to be in following their doctoral work. For example, I have many friends who work for VA hospitals, have great hours, and a great quality of life, and make decent livings, but probably not as much as some would imagine or would consider when you have a doctoral degree. I have friends who work for corporate audiology offices (HearUSA, etc.), make $70,000 a year with commission and are happy with that! I am happy for those people. Personally speaking, that would not have made my doctorate worth it. I also have colleagues that are teaching in the university setting. Knowing first hand, these positions don't pay much; however, you don't get into academia for the money. I switched from a different field, so I have a master's degree as well. I'm also completing my doctor of education in health professions, which my practice has helped pay for and will, of course, raise my overall salary. I had a lot of loans and needed a job to cover my payments. Mid 5-figures wouldn't have worked.

I joined a private practice after I graduated. I had to build my own section of it from the ground up, which causes me to work at least 65-75 hours per week. I don’t have a lot of free time, but I'm also a self-identified workaholic. I work those hours as well as complete my own homework in the spaces of time I have when not in clinic. In the spirit of transparency, I make in the mid 6 figures each year, just as much as any physician. The best part about it is that my malpractice is low compared to, say, an ENT or other speciality. I choose to have on-call hours in my clinic, meaning there are times that I have to work weekends. I'm also my own boss. Just like the other providers in the clinic, I pick and choose how much, or how little, I want to work. I lecture at colleges, conference, etc. so that I can spread the word on hearing loss as well as auditory diseases and the intervention we as audiologists provide. Being an audiologist, at least for me, hasn't allowed me to take too much time off, but I enjoy helping people and spreading awareness about the field.

I had a colleague tell me, recently, that when he applied for a job at a hospital he negotiated his pay. If you have the highest level of degree in your field, and your are a good, professional audiologist, why don't you deserve the right to negotiate? Go get what you deserve! When I started I certainly negotiated my pay, and do so every year. When I do that though, I also have to make sure I am producing in relation to what I believe I am worth.

One comment I hear from doctoral candidates, which I find to be strange, is how many go to school simply for the title change to "doctor". I found, pretty quickly, that some physicians simply won't respect others in the allied health fields. I also found out how little I cared about what others thought about my profession. No, we aren't physicians. Yes, you earned your title. But if you're going to graduate school to earn a title (fyi, I don't think you're saying this) then you're missing the point of the job. I didn't need someone to call me doctor because I knew the rigor of my academic program for audiology. I guarantee you the majority of audiologists would say their graduate work was extremely intense and that's because it was. I knew what work I performed and was comfortable in that. There were times I questioned if I should've gone to medical school. What I realized was that my job is what I make of it. Also, I've worked with amazing ENT's and amazing physicians that see us as invaluable, contributing members to the medical field and to the communities in which we serve. This has become even more apparent since the pandemic and since the enforcement of mask wearing. Communication, in my opinion, has never been more important.

Are you happy with your job?
Overall? Yes. It'd be silly to complain with the life I've made for myself in private practice. Especially during the pandemic and when watching my sister, who is an internal medicine doctor, I have been able to see how fortunate I am to be in allied health rather than medicine. She's watching people die horrible deaths every day, numerous times a day. When I first finished my degree, I questioned if I should've gone to medical school. What I realized is that if I extend myself to ends of my scope (e.g. vestibular, pediatrics, difficult to test populous, cochlear implants, hearing aids, auditory processing disorders, therapy, autism spectrum groups, educational audiology, etc.) I would never question my decision. A patient of mine is a neurosurgeon. She said to me, "You made the right decision. You make great money, you get to live a good life, and your work is very interesting." I have an orthopedic surgeon, who has an auditory processing disorder, and who I see for therapy, routinely tell me how intricate and effective our work is, and if he would've known about the field, he would have loved getting into audiology. My father, a retired ENT surgeon, loves audiology and regularly questions if he made the right decision. We need great physicians. We also need great audiologists. I am not, nor will I ever, compare myself to a physician, but I do know that I can be good in my field, and that has made me more comfortable in my decision to not go to medical school.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming an AuD?
I have students in the clinic all the time. I tell all of my students that the future of audiology isn't devices. The future of audiology isn't selling hearing aids. The future is rehabilitation and in YOU. Now, rehabilitation can include hearing aids, but it's not limited to that. I have colleagues that sell hearing aids, don't do any scientific backing on what they're fitting, essentially making them a glorified hearing aid dispenser. Then I have colleagues that live out their science and show they are the experts in the field. Your field is what you make of it. If someone only wants to sell hearing aids, they're entitled to that right! We need good, quality dispensing AuD's. For myself, that's just not enough. I need more from what I do. That said, I always encourage students, especially if they are doctoral candidates, to live out the title of "doctor". Don't just be another person that finished graduate school and doesn't push themselves for the rest of their career. Remember your training and remember the intensity that you put into your studies. Continue to educate yourself on where the field is headed. Audiology is such a beautiful blend of science, medicine, and technology, which means that as technology becomes greater (and it will always continue to do so) we must also adapt as clinicians to the future.

Is this field growing and expanding?
With regards to your specific question: I don't know if I have an answer for that. I believe that many audiologists want to imagine that it is. I do, however, know the field is changing. Change can encompass growth and expansion. I think about when I started my doctoral program to when I completed it and how much devices and therapeutic techniques changed. Audiologists get caught up in the over-the-counter hearing aids, the big box stores, etc. The truth is, if you allow for change, you'll never need to worry about that. We are the experts on all things auditory, not just devices.

I also think about how much I've learned as a private practitioner and often sit back to reflect on where the field is headed and how I'll adapt in the future. Remember that audiology is a VERY young field. Each year, the science, research, and the technology is getting better and better, which means our roles are going to change and maybe even expand.

Money is always a contributing factor when choosing a career. I get that and I affirm your questioning on audiology. From a private practice perspective, yes, I work a lot. From a financial perspective, I'm paid for the amount that I work. I often joke, and my wife would agree, that I live in my clinic. I'm a realist and can also tell you that I don't wake up every morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to be an audiologist. There are days I would've chosen to stay in bed...but then I watch a spouse or partner have a moment of realization that their spouse or partner is truly having difficulty hearing and with a properly fit device can now communicate again. Or to diagnose someone with an auditory disorder, and finally give (at at least start) an answer to the symptoms they might be experiencing, or providing a child with auditory processing therapy and watch their quality of life change for the better...that's when I remember and cling to the fact that I am an audiologist. That's when that feeling of realization sets in that I made the right decision. That's when I remember that I don't care what other providers think of my title. I earn it in those moments and always attempt to continue to earn it in my future.

I'm biased because I'm an audiologist. I don’t think you can go wrong, however, in becoming an audiologist. We'd be lucky to have you!

Hope that helps!
Hey everyone. I recently found out about Audiology, and I like the field because I have had hearing problems/loss since I was a child. I have not read very many positive posts about this profession. I have been to an Audiologist, and I have talked with the Audiologist I went for my hearing loss. My questions are: does any expect AuD’s to get a salary increase? Are you happy with your job? What would you say to someone who thought about becoming an AuD? Is this field growing and expanding?

Will the salary increase?
- Yes it will increase due to inflation like all salaries. Do I think it will increase a decent amount because of need? No I do not. I feel like as long as hearing aid dealers can do most of our job without having to have an Au.D., that our field will remain stagnant salary wise. When you throw in that a lot of big box stores and electronics companies getting involved in slinging hearing aids (the way anyone makes their money in the private sector) and I only see the salaries going down many places rather than up. Our profession should have worked years ago to make it so hearing aid dispensers cannot dispense hearing aids (hard to do since it used to be the audiologist could not dispense hearing aids!) without an audiogram completed by a licensed audiologist (like an optician cannot dispense eyeglasses without a valid prescription from a licensed optometrist).

Am I happy with my job?
- Yes for the most part. I find the work enjoyable. I make a decent living (I could easily be making more as a nurse practitioner, psychologist, optometrist, dentist, PA, etc. all with the same amount of schooling or less)
- I enjoy not being on call. I enjoy I don't have to worry about prescriptions. Since I left the private sector for the government sector my job satisfaction has increased thousands of times more than my job satisfaction working in the private sector

What would I say to someone who though about becoming an AuD?
- Make sure you are willing to put the years of schooling in to make far less than those with a masters degree in most fields
- Great money to be made in this field if you're willing to move where the jobs are
- The work is rewarding a lot of days

Is the field growing or expanding?
- Yes the field is growing in terms of hearing loss patients and people getting help for their hearing loss. Does that mean audiology is growing?
Not exactly. It could just mean more electronics companies enter into the field with PSAPs or more hearing aid dispensers come online. I mean being a hearing aid dispenser would be a good gig considering most states require just a GED and you apprentice under another dispenser and take an exam and then you can make over 50k a year with a GED and minimal training

The big question students often ask me is: "If you could go back and do it over would you become an audiologist again?".
- To this I say a big resounding not only no, but a hell no. I could have had so many other jobs in healthcare with the same amount of
schooling or less with a bigger salary, better job opportunities, and better respect from other medical providers