If you discover that you are hearing impaired, and you need to get hearing aid, then the hearing instrument specialist is the person you will likely meet next.
This semi-professional person is responsible for conducting simple hearing tests for the sole purpose of selling hearing aids to individuals. Their job by nature gives them the unofficial title of dispenser.
Hearing Instrument Specialist: Fighting the Hearing Aid Stigma
They sometimes have a difficult time convincing patients, who need hearing aids, that they should try them.
According to Michigan Alliance of Hearing Care Professionals president, Aaron Toth, “There’s a stigma against hearing aids, so you really have to spend some time letting them know what they’re missing out on.”
Already, even before trying out these devices, people who struggle with hearing impairment, start to isolate themselves and withdraw from close friends and family members. They know what society, at large, thinks about deaf people.
So with that preconceived notion in their mind, they get depressed, lonely, frustrated and many wait years before seeking help.
The Effects of Waiting to Get a Hearing Aid
And until they do, they struggle to understand what is said in a social setting. They might miss out on key information when at work. And the people around them get to be just as confused as they are, about what might possibly be going on.
Many people lose income, lose social status and deny themselves support.
But hearing professionals, like audiologists and hearing aid specialists, are the answer to these problems.
“We get to bring back hearing to their lives. It is very rewarding to watch people hear again.” Toth commented.
It is Not an Easy Job
Audiologists know that there are literally thousands of ways that a hearing aid can be built or manipulated to suit a client’s individual need.
Aaron Toth, at his Michigan practice, often has his hearing specialists, set up bi-annual appointments with clients, just for maintenance of the device. “You’re basically putting an electric circuit into 98 degrees of humidity, so they’ll require some cleaning and upkeep by a specialist,” he explains.
Difference between the Hearing Instrument Specialist and the Audiologist
While these two professions are similar in nature, the job of audiologist is much more technical.
The audiologist has to undergo a minimum of eight years of schooling, which leads to a doctoral degree to qualify for their job. But, on the other hand, the hearing instrument specialist, or the hearing aid specialist, can perform their duties with just a high school diploma, or a two-year associate degree.
Audiologists are specialists who have extensive knowledge about everything pertaining to the ear.
The hearing instrument specialist, however, has very little knowledge outside of screening for the sole purpose of ensuring that hearing devices fit and are sold to clients. In essence, they specialize in the instruments themselves and not diagnosing problems with the ear directly.
A Career as a Hearing Aid Specialist
While some persons can become employed with just a high school diploma, other employers prefer that their candidates have a Bachelor’s degree.
The hearing specialist oftentimes works alongside an audiologist, in diagnosing auditory problems. They might require, however, in some areas across the United States, that you have a license to practice. Then you will be free to dispense hearing aids.
Because you will be working a lot with people, you will need to have great interpersonal dynamics. It is a necessary requirement for this job. These hearing specialists are expected to communicate regularly with clients regarding their health.
The nature of the job, choosing the right hearing aid for clients, means that they are expected to have exemplary technical skills.
The hearing aids are designed with modern technology, and they will oftentimes change as the technology gets more advanced. Therefore, a hearing specialist must keep abreast of the changing technology so they can best outfit clients with the most suitable instrument.
Hearing Specialists Salary and Expectations
The demand for hearing instrument specialists will increase by 19% by the year 2026. These professionals earn between $34,940 and $80,940 annually. That salary will depend on where they are located
Toth stated, “The industry is growing at an enormous rate. We need providers and lots of them.”
Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports this belief.
They project a rise in the demand for hearing aid specialists. Currently, America has an aging population, who will certainly need hearing devices as the frequency of hearing loss escalates. So, in the next decade, we can look forward to about 1300 new job openings waiting to be filled by hearing aid specialists.
This is good news for anyone who is interested in the profession, or currently studying to become a hearing professional in colleges and universities across the country.