What Is the Difference Between an Audiologist and a Hearing Aid Dispenser?

02/10/2023 | Industry News, Patient Resources | 0 comments

You might have wondered what the difference is between seeing a person with the title of Hearing Aid Dispenser and someone with the letters Au.D., CCC-A after their name.

What Do They Have in Common?

In a nutshell, you’ll often see hearing aid dispensers at places like a Costco hearing center — ready to do a hearing test and sell and fit listening devices.

You’ll likely see an audiologist at a hearing clinic — who can also do a hearing assessment, help you buy hearing devices and fit them for you, but who is mainly ready to look after every facet of your hearing health.

What Do They Do, Exactly?

A Hearing Aid Dispenser

A hearing aid dispenser is someone who is licensed to fit and dispense hearing aids.

Depending on each state’s rules, they might also perform basic hearing tests, adjust hearing aids, and counsel and educate patients with concerns about their hearing and hearing aid usage.

A hearing aid dispenser can study for about twelve weeks, pass the hearing aid specialist exam, and start working as a licensed hearing aid dispenser in 3 to 6 months.

  • Hearing aid dispensers can only recommend and fit hearing aids on adults.
  • They cannot bill most insurance companies for hearing devices.
  • Once you’ve seen a hearing aid dispenser, you might never see them again once they’ve sold you your hearing aids.

An Audiologist

An audiologist is a doctor of audiology who is licensed to diagnose and treat any and all aspects of a person’s hearing.

He or she will have studied humans’ perception of sounds, hearing in the middle ear and the brain, hearing loss, balance disorders, and the anatomy and physiology of the auditory system.

It takes about eight years to become a doctor of audiology. An audiologist has to have a bachelor’s — preferably in in the natural and social sciences, mathematics, and humanities — and then study for a further three years and do a year of externship. Most audiologists working in a hearing clinic will have earned a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) degree.

  • Once you’ve seen an audiologist, we hope you will continue seeing them for the rest of your life, for the sake of your hearing health.

What Is an Audiologist Skilled At?

In addition to fitting hearing devices, an audiologist is qualified to:

  • Diagnose and treat any cause of hearing loss
  • Assess and treat any type of tinnitus and its cause
  • Assess and treat vestibular disorders
  • Bill insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid
  • Assess and treat auditory processing disorders
  • Test for candidacy for cochlear implants
  • Educate on, prevent, and monitor for any effects of a patient’s ototoxic treatments on hearing – chemotherapy, radiation, and more
  • Educate, prevent, and monitor for any effects of a patient’s substance abuse
  • Evaluate, educate on, and provide aural and vestibular rehabilitation therapy
  • Consult on amplification systems for classrooms, event centers, conference rooms
  • Counsel patients and their family members
  • Develop hearing conservation programs

As you can see, an audiologist is an auditory superstar who is qualified to find and treat anything going on in a person’s auditory and vestibular systems, no matter the age.

As we say on our Why Us page, our focus is on “providing overall hearing care that improves relationships, allows for greater independence, and helps achieve a better quality of life.” We mean every word of it.

This is why we’ve spent eight years each getting our audiology degrees. This is why we’ve been in Pensacola for 45 years. Because you matter to us. Your hearing matters to us.

Come see us. Contact us for an appointment or with any questions. We can’t wait to help you begin your hearing journey with us.

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Margaret Richards Au.D., CCC-A

Originally from Mobile, AL, Dr. Margaret Richards graduated with a bachelor’s of science in communication disorders from Auburn University in 2010 and obtained her doctorate of audiology from the University of South Alabama in 2014; in addition, she holds a certificate of clinical competence in audiology.
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