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Hearing Sciences

Degree programs in hearing sciences focus on improving human interaction by learning how we hear and the issues that prevent normal hearing. Continue reading to learn about the academic programs and career opportunities.

Is Hearing Sciences for Me?

Career Overview

Hearing sciences refers to the study of hearing, how we hear, issues that prevent correct hearing and how poor hearing can affect one's ability to speak and communicate. Through studies in this field, you'll learn how communication disorders can lead to social and psychological issues. Degree programs in hearing science are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels.

Necessary Skills

The BLS states that professionals in this field must be able to communicate effectively, assess their patients' test results and develop a treatment plan. The BLS adds that you should be compassionate, supportive and patient with your clients.

Work Environment

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), speech-language pathologists, audiologists and hearing scientists can work in colleges and universities, private practice, schools, community clinics, hospitals, health facilities, doctor's offices, government agencies and adult daycare centers (www.asha.org).

Salaries and Job Outlook

ASHA states that a growing need exists for individuals who can help people with speech, hearing and language problems. Although hearing is commonly associated with the elderly, children also suffer from hearing disabilities. ASHA also reported that about five million individuals who don't speak English as their first language suffer from language, speech or hearing disabilities.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that between 2012 and 2022, the employment opportunities for audiologists should increase by 34%. Job openings for speech-language pathologists were expected to increase by 19% during the same time (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for audiologists was $69,720, while speech-language pathologists earned a median of $69,870 as of May 2012, according to the BLS.

How Can I Work in Hearing Sciences?

Undergraduate Programs

To work in the hearing sciences, you can start by earning a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing sciences, speech and hearing therapy, speech-language pathology, communication disorders or audiology. Through these degree programs, you may study sign language and phonetics. Other courses may address speech and sound disorders, hearing disorders, communication disorders and language impairments. You could select from concentrations in hearing science, audiology or speech and language sciences. This program could also prepare you for a graduate degree program in hearing science or speech-language pathology.

Graduate Studies

Through a master's degree program, you may explore forms of human communication, swallowing disorders and language disorders that are common in adults or children. Concentrations are available in speech-language pathology and communication sciences. Doctorate level courses in audiology may address advanced topics in hearing science, common issues in the field and the effects of bilingualism. You're also likely to conduct research in the hearing sciences, engage in relevant seminars and teach undergraduate courses in the field.

Licensing and Certification

According to the BLS, to work in speech-language pathology or audiology, you must have at least a master's degree. Several states require that audiologists have a doctorate. Upon graduation, you must pass a licensure exam to meet your state's licensure and certification requirements. The BLS adds that you can earn voluntary credentials from ASHA and the American Board of Audiology. With a doctorate, you can teach hearing sciences at the university level or conduct independent research in the field.