Associate Degree in Audiology
While a master's degree is the minimum educational requirement for audiologists, students may choose to begin careers in this field by completing associate degree programs. Keep reading to learn about the entry-level job options available to graduates of associate degree programs in hearing instrument science and communication disorders.
Associate Degree in Hearing Instrument Science
Students in these programs study ear anatomy and physiology in addition to the common causes of hearing loss. Other program curricula familiarizes students with hearing instrument components. Students also learn to fit or adjust hearing aids, measure the ear and perform hearing assessments.
Program applicants will need to submit their high school transcripts. Some schools may also require applicants to pass placement tests designed to test their reasoning and problem-solving abilities.
Coursework for these programs consists of about 60 credit hours and is designed to be completed in approximately two years. In addition to lecture courses, students may participate in clinical experiences and lab sessions to gain hands-on training. Topics may include:
- Hearing aids
- Aural rehabilitation
- Hearing aid evaluation
- Hearing assessment
- Hearing and auditory disorders
- Hearing aid fitting methods
Popular Career Options
Graduates of hearing instrument specialist associate degree programs can find job opportunities with hospitals, private practices and outpatient care centers. Some job titles may include:
- Hearing aid specialist
- Hearing instrument dispenser
- Hearing aid fitter
- Hearing instrument technician
Licensing and Continuing Education Information
Some states regulate the practice of hearing instrument technicians. Typical licensing requirements include an associate degree in hearing instrument science and passing scores on written and practical exams. Applicants in some states may also need up to 98 hours of supervised work experience.
Graduates of hearing instrument science programs may go on to complete bachelor's degree programs in speech language pathology or audiology. However, a master's degree in audiology is needed to fulfill minimum educational requirements for audiologists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Many states also require a doctorate.
Associate Degree in Communication Disorders
These degree programs are designed for people who would like to pursue careers in speech-language pathology. Curriculum provides training in American Sign Language (ASL), language development and speech disorders. Students may also have the opportunity to train in schools' hearing clinics. A high school diploma or GED is required for entry into these programs.
Programs take approximately two years to complete. Students take general education courses as well as courses in language skills and human anatomy. Topics of study may include:
- Communication disorders
- Healthcare communications
- Physiological acoustics
- Language development
- Biological acoustics
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Individuals holding associate degrees in communication disorders can find jobs as speech-language pathology assistants. According to the Occupational Information Network, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median hourly wage for these professionals was $14.56 in 2010 (www.onetonline.org). Employment opportunities for this occupation are expected to grow 14%-19% during the 2008-2018 decade.
Licensing and Continuing Education Information
In many states, speech-language pathology assistants must also meet licensing requirements. Applicants will need to complete a state-approved associate degree program and acquire anywhere between 70 and 100 hours of field experience. Some states also require applicants to complete a supervised practice component.
Graduates of these programs may also pursue bachelor's degrees in audiology or speech-language pathology. Bachelor's degree programs in communication disorders are available as well. These programs often prepare students for graduate study through coursework in such topics as articulation and fluency disorders, aural rehabilitation and language processing.
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