How to Become a National Board Certified Hearing Specialist

Hearing loss can make ordinary verbal communication difficult or impossible.
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Communicating with others can feel like a monumental challenge at the best of times, and it's even harder when you're trying to talk to someone with hearing loss. Like poor vision, hearing loss can sharply limit a person's social and working life. Hearing specialists, or audiologists, diagnose and treat hearing loss. Becoming a certified audiologist requires several years of training, a state-issued license, and certification through the American Board of Audiology or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

    Step 1

    Earn a bachelor's degree. Any major is acceptable, but your course work needs to meet the prerequisites for admission into your audiology school. Typically this will include basic sciences, advanced math, and usually, some work in communcations sciences.

    Step 2

    Enroll in a four-year doctor of audiology program, or Au.D.. The classroom curriculum includes physiology, pharmacology, genetics, normal and abnormal communication development, diagnosis, and audiology's ethical and regulatory obligations.

    Step 3

    Complete 2,000 hours' clinical practice under the supervision of a licensed audiologist. Most doctoral programs include enough clinical rotations to meet this requirement, but if yours didn't, you'll need to acquire the hours separately through full-time or part-time work.

    Step 4

    Apply for your state's license to practice audiology. Each state has its own application process and requirements, and your school can answer any questions you have about licensing procedures.

    Step 5

    Submit your application to the American Board of Audiology or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. You'll need to document your education and clinical experience to verify that you meet the prerequisites for certification.

    Step 6

    Take and pass the certification exam. If you've earned certification through the Board of Audiology, you'll be credentialed as a board-certified audiologist. If you've chosen to certify through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, you'll earn a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology, or CCC-A.


    • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA, requires 1,820 hours of clinical experience rather than the 2,000 required by the Board of Audiology. Candidates for ASHA certification must graduate from an Au.D. program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.


    • Specialized certifications in pediatric audiology and cochlear implants are also available through the Board of Audiology.

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