Audiologist Or Hearing Aid Specialist? What’s The Difference?

While an audiologist is important, you don’t need to see an audiologist for many hearing or ear issues.

I’ve been asked a lot about the differences between a hearing instrument specialist and an audiologist, so I thought I’d create an informational guide for you regarding what each one does and what you might need for your hearing challenges.

In short, though, while an audiologist is important, you don’t need to see an audiologist for many hearing or ear issues and can be seen to here at Inland Hearing Aids.

Difference Between An Audiologist And Hearing Instrument Specialist

The biggest difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist is the number of years spent acquiring knowledge.

A hearing instrument specialist has completed “a two-year degree or nine-month certificate program in hearing aid specialist instruction through a program approved by the Board of Hearing and Speech.”

Those who have “completed a nine-month certificate must also pass a board-approved practical examination.”

An audiologist has completed “a master’s or doctorate degree program that includes clinical practicum experience. … Postgraduate professional work experience must be in the field of audiology. It must be completed over a minimum of 36 weeks of full-time experience or a part-time equivalent.

“Audiologists must pass the national recognized audiology examination, the PRAXIS examination.”

Every year, hearing instrument specialists and audiologists must renew their licenses and prove their equipment is correctly calibrated. Both must also complete 30 hours of continuing education every three years.

After their education, each person decides what they prefer to focus on, so some might have spent decades on balance disorders while others are more rounded. This means every hearing professional will have their own length of time they have spent gaining experience in the different aspects of hearing care.

So, while you might think that seeing an audiologist automatically means you will get better hearing aids, that’s not necessarily true.

Similarities With An Audiologist And Hearing Instrument Specialist

Everyone who chooses this area of healthcare does so because giving the gift of hearing is important to them. But just because someone has a degree doesn’t mean they have a good bedside manner or do a better job of caring for the patient.

Your level of comfort matters, so find a hearing specialist who is knowledgeable, experienced, and recommended by many others.

In Many Cases, A HIS Could Well Be The Better Option.

As one man with a hearing loss said in an online forum:

“When I went to three audiologists for a hearing evaluation (all with 15-30 years’ experience), not one recommended hearing instruments to me, not ONE took an interest in my experience of dealing with my moderate, high-frequency loss, not one asked me where in my life I was having difficulty, not one asked if I was a musician or whether I attended lots of noisy social situations.


… When one looks, you’ll see that the bulk of that PhD has little to do with the actual testing of adult hearing loss, or fitting hearing instruments, or working with clients in a way that leaves them happy, satisfied hearing instrument users.” – Duane S., HIS

What Does A Hearing Instrument Specialist Do?

Hearing instrument specialists’ training focuses on everything to do with hearing devices and their fit. They:

What Is An Audiologist, And What Does An Audiologist Do?

An audiologist cannot sell hearing aids without a hearing aid dispenser’s license, so if your main goal is to get a hearing aid, there is no reason you can’t visit a hearing instrument specialist.

Audiologists might also offer:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of balance disorders
  • Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation therapy for auditory processing disorder
  • Evaluation and management of tinnitus
  • Assessment and treatment for hearing loss in children
  • Cochlear implant assessments and programming
  • Medication monitoring
  • Speech therapy
  • Master’s-acquired individual and family counseling for a hearing loss
  • Joint hearing care with an ENT specialist

What Kind Of Specialist Should I See For My Hearing Loss?

As you can see, when it comes to the type of hearing loss most people have, a hearing instrument specialist has the training and experience necessary to test your hearing professionally and fit you with the best hearing aid for your hearing needs.

An HIS specializes in fitting hearing aids, while an audiologist specializes in wider aspects of hearing healthcare.

The biggest thing to consider here is the individual provider and their trusted expertise in their community. As mentioned earlier, it’s all in the professional’s approach and values which makes them successful in providing 5-star hearing care.

I’ve spent more than 20 years providing top-level hearing care to Moses Lake and our nearby communities, and I look forward to doing the same for you and your family.

When Is An Audiologist A Good Option?

If you believe your hearing loss is due to a medical issue rather than regular hearing degeneration, an audiologist would be a better choice, as you can get the medical care you need rather than a hearing aid.

An audiologist is trained to evaluate every aspect of the auditory system and has studied brain anatomy and physics and the medical and genetic causes of hearing loss.

Can I Invest In Hearing Aids Without Consulting An Audiologist?

Yes, you can invest in a hearing aid by seeing a hearing instrument specialist who is fully qualified and experienced to assess your hearing properly and custom fit the best hearing treatment.

You can also buy hearing aids online, but it’s not advisable, as an online hearing test will never assess your hearing accurately, so your hearing aids will never be programmed to be an exact fit for your needs.

If you suspect you or a loved one has a hearing loss, book a hearing assessment at one of our hearing clinic locations. We’ll give you the results immediately and get you on the road to hearing again.

Life’s too short to miss out on a fully independent life just because of a treatable hearing loss.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dan Morehouse, HIS

As a hearing instrument specialist and owner of Inland Hearing Aids, Inc., Dan Morehouse has spent more than 20 years earning the trust of physicians, community organizations, and thousands of residents through providing top-level hearing care to Moses Lake and nearby communities.

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