In Tennessee, both audiologists and hearing instrument specialists are licensed to sell and fit hearing aids. So, what’s the difference between them? It can be pretty confusing.
It’s good to know the difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist (HIS) so you can make an informed decision about your hearing healthcare and make sure you’re getting the best care possible.
So what is an audiologist?
An audiologist is someone who’s had extensive specialist training in hearing health, hearing dysfunction, and hearing aid technology. Their training addresses the many different kinds of hearing dysfunction.
An audiologist will have done a minimum of 8 year’s training. They will gain a range of qualifications, including a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate degree, along with hundreds of hours of practical training to get their audiologist license. To retain that license, they have to prove that they’re keeping up with their training, year in, year out.
To cut a long story short, they can diagnose and treat any hearing problem. They can even give you and your family support and counselling if you need it. If you have a problem with your hearing, an audiologist is the person you need.
What is a Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS)?
A hearing instrument specialist (HIS) is someone who’s permitted to sell and issue hearing aids, just like an audiologist. However, compare the training of a hearing instrument specialist to that of an audiologist and you’ll quickly see a stark difference.
To get a HIS apprenticeship license in Tennessee, you need to be over 18, have the equivalent of 2 years of college level coursework, and pass an exam. To advance from a HIS apprenticeship license to a full HIS license, you must complete just 3 months supervised training and 60 hours of classroom coursework.
This training doesn’t cover every aspect of hearing health or all the information needed to properly diagnose hearing problems. In fact, hearing instrument specialists aren’t licensed to do audiological exams. They focus instead on how to correctly fit hearing aids.
Who to visit when you have a problem with your hearing
If you haven’t already guessed, you’re best bet for your hearing healthcare is an audiologist.
If you’re not sure whether your hearing healthcare provider is a licensed audiologist and has what it takes to care for your hearing properly, here are a few things you can check:
- Their credentials – ask for certificates or proof of their audiologist status
- That they offer hearing aids from a range of manufacturers
- That they’ll give you a free trial period – most audiologists will
Need more information about hearing healthcare?
Here at Johnson Audiology, we believe you deserve the best hearing care you can get. We have been awarded #1 in the the ‘Best of the Best’ people’s choice awards for best customer service and best hearing aid centre. Not just once but every year from 2012 through to 2018.
If you or a loved one has a hearing problem, call our friendly team to see how we can help. Click here to find your nearest hearing center in Tennessee.
Dr. Megan Johnson is the owner and licensed audiologist at Johnson Audiology. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Western Carolina University, a master’s degree in audiology from the University of Tennessee, and her doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida.