Difference between Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers

The people who diagnose and treat hearing loss can vary wildly in terms of credentials. Today, it is still customary for someone to get their hearing tested and a hearing aid fitted by someone and still not know their qualifications. How do you know who can be trusted? That is why the difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser is an important distinction to consider when treating your hearing loss.

The right hearing care is crucial, and we believe it deserves the expert care and attention that an audiologist offers. When tempted by special offers, or because they lack the knowledge that there are substantial certification gaps between the two disciplines, some individuals might pursue hearing solutions through a hearing aid dispenser instead of an audiologist.

Since the audiologist's professional scope of practice also involves the dispensing of hearing aids, it is easy to understand how people could be confused.

It's also easy to be fooled by a hearing aid vendor in a white coat as it symbolically signifies a medical professional's status, such as a Doctor of Audiology.

However, there are some significant differences. While we brushed over this in our last post, this post will break down the key difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser.

Before we begin: You might hear other professional titles are thrown around, such as hearing care practitioner or hearing instrument specialist. For this article, these terms are almost synonymous with hearing aid dispensers.

How are they similar?

The distinction between hearing aid dispensers and audiologists is sometimes confusing. Let's take a look at what qualities they share to get a little more insight.

  • They both have a license for performing hearing testing. These tests generally include a pure-tone test (to check for the kinds of frequencies you might have a hard time hearing) as well as a speech recognition test.
  • They are both experts in fitting hearing aids. Both will offer hearing aid suggestions and fittings based on your lifestyle, budget, and hearing loss needs.
  • You can go to either for hearing aid care. Both professionals can carry out hearing aid maintenance, cleaning, and repairs.
  • They both work with adults. This is notable because only audiologists are licensed to work with children.

How do they differ?

There seems to be minimal variation between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser at first glance. However, the differences become more apparent the closer you look. Here are the most important differences.

Education level: There is no need to have a medical background to be a hearing aid dispenser. They only need qualifications at the high school level and a training stint alongside another hearing aid dispenser, followed by a test to be certified in their state. Conversely, audiologists are required to go through eight years of post-high school education. For this, they receive a Ph.D. in Audiology or a Master's degree.

Scope of expertise: Hearing aid dispensers are confined to hearing tests for the sole purpose of hearing aid dispensing. But audiologists may also specialize in some of the following techniques and fields of expertise:

  • Ear anatomy and physiology
  • Hearing and balance
  • Amplification devices
  • Cochlear implants
  • Electrophysiology
  • Acoustics
  • Psychophysics
  • Hearing counseling
  • Earwax management
  • Tinnitus Evaluation and Management

Work with other medical professionals: For better outcomes, ENTs and audiologists often work as a team. When you undergo a hearing examination, an ENT will consult with your audiologist to treat your condition if an underlying medical condition is suspected.

Pediatric hearing care: Audiologists support children who have deafness, hearing loss, and difficulties with speech or communication. They administer different tests to assess how well kids can hear and help kids handle hearing issues in their everyday lives.

Motivations: While audiologists have various hearing issues they can address, a hearing aid dispenser can only make their money from selling you hearing aids. Therefore, audiologists tend to focus on your hearing health in general and can be less salesmen-like in their approach.

Which one should I pick?

While there is no doubt that hearing experts of any stripe are welcome in the fight against hearing loss, an audiologist may be more suited to your needs, particularly for first-time wearers of hearing aids. This is especially true if you have issues such as balance problems, tinnitus, earwax issues, or hearing damage caused by noise exposure,

At Applied Hearing Aid Solutions, we recognize that it is essential that you get the care you need to resolve your hearing loss problems. That's why we have the expertise and audiological training to support you with a whole range of hearing issues. We are excited to help you find the right solution for your hearing needs if you're in the market for new hearing aids or not happy with your existing pair.