It can be easy to get confused by all those letters behind a provider’s name. Here are some common credentials and their meanings in the world of Audiology!
Au.D. – This is an Audiologist who holds a Doctorate of Audiology, meaning they completed a doctoral program at an accredited university. This includes 4 years of undergraduate education and 3-4 years of graduate school (the final year is a year-long residency/training year). Starting in 2007, the Doctorate of Audiology became the entry-level degree required for clinical practice.
M.A. or M.S. – Before the Doctorate of Audiology, a Master of Arts or Science degree in Audiology was required. There are still certified Audiologists practicing with their Master’s degree. While there are many types of Master’s Degree one can obtain (speech therapy, business, engineering etc.), this is would be a degree specific to Audiology. Since 2007, universities no longer provide master’s degrees for Audiology because the requirement is now a specialized doctorate.
CCC-A – This is the abbreviation for Certification of Clinical Competency in Audiology. It is a voluntary certificate awarded from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). This indicates that a clinical provider finished their academic coursework, passed a standardized test specifically to Audiology, and completed a significant amount of supervised clinic hours.
F-AAA – Someone who has these credentials is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. The American Academy of Audiology is the largest organization for Audiologists. Membership to this organization provides opportunities for professional development, education, research, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders.
There are additional organizations Audiologists can join for more specialized fields, such as pediatrics or cochlear implants. These certifications or memberships are voluntary and not required for clinical practice, but indicate advanced knowledge in a specific area of Audiology.
Extern – An audiology extern is a student who is in their clinical training/residency year called an externship. This person has a bachelor’s degree, completed their graduate coursework, and is one step away from obtaining their Doctorate of Audiology. They work under the supervision of and Audiologist, and will soon be one, too!
HIS – A Hearing Instrument Specialist an individual who is certified to dispense hearing aids. This individual is required to have a high school degree (or an associate’s degree in some states) and pass a state exam. They are qualified to assess basic degrees of hearing loss and dispense hearing aids.
The difference between an Audiologist and Hearing Instrument Specialist is the amount of education and skills required to practice. The Audiologist has an advanced degree and is an expert in all aspects of hearing healthcare (including the fitting of hearing devices, tinnitus, cerumen, balance, etc.), while the Hearing Aid Specialist has a high school or two-year degree and passed their state examination for the dispensing of hearing devices only.