A Consumer’s Guide to Purchasing Hearing Aids: The Difference Between an Audiologist and a Hearing Instrument Specialist

Question: Do you know what the minimum educational qualifications are for a person to sell hearing aids in New Jersey?

Answer: You don’t even need a high school diploma.

Doctor Fitting Female Patient With Hearing Aid

In New Jersey you can purchase hearing aids from anyone who is licensed to dispense hearing aids, either audiologists or hearing instrument specialists (non-audiologists). There is no law that requires a private citizen to be seen by an audiologist prior to buying a hearing aid. The price you pay will be about the same. The choice is yours.

While hearing instrument specialists in New Jersey and elsewhere are required to sit with a licensed hearing aid dispenser for six months and then take an exam that gives them the ability to dispense hearing aids, audiologists are required to have a doctoral degree and must adhere to a strict code of ethics and engage in “best practices” in order to maintain certification and good standing in the American Speech and Hearing Association and the American Academy of Audiology.

Audiologists are viewed by the medical and professional community as the experts regarding hearing aids. With their diagnostic training and skills, the audiologist knows when medical intervention may be needed.

Audiologists, consistent with current research and good medical practice, have been trained to see the hearing aid as the beginning rather than the end of the rehabilitative process. In most cases, when audiologists see people who need help with their hearing, the findings indicate that the auditory system has been deprived of auditory input for some time. It may take some time for the ear and the brain to work together again to improve hearing and understanding.

You have a choice as to whom you purchase a hearing aid from. Both the hearing instrument specialist and the audiologist can provide you the hearing aid per se but an audiologist has the advanced education, professional training and practical experience to provide the analysis of your habitual hearing lifestyle and professional after-care to speed the ear-brain adjustment process, at basically the same price as a hearing instrument specialist.

With the audiologist’s knowledge of psychoacoustics, bioacoustics, diagnostic audiology, auditory training, brain plasticity, auditory memory and signal processing, the road back to better hearing can be accomplished much quicker and with fewer bumps in the road.

For more information, or to speak with one of Speech and Hearing Associates’ audiologists, give us a call at 800-742-7551 .