Since hearing is one of the most important of the human senses, audiology (the study of sound and hearing) will always be an integral branch of science. Masters in Audiology programs attract top graduate students interested in helping people who suffer from the various types and degrees of hearing loss. Whereas many sciences that explore the disorders from which humans suffer tend to take a medical approach, students in audiology courses learn how to best manage hearing loss without the use of medication or surgery.
Masters in Audiology degree programs are typically designed to help students learn about normal and impaired hearing and balance, in an effort to work toward hearing loss prevention. Courses in audiology prepare students to identify and assess hearing loss, and recommend rehabilitation for patients with hearing or balance disorders. To accomplish this, students must take courses in fields such as anatomy, physiology, science, mathematics and communications.
Students in an audiology master's degree program work to develop knowledge of the different types of deafness, students might choose to pursue a broad course of study or focus on developing specialized skills in a specific disorder. Some specializations for audiology master's degree students might include:
Students may also choose audiology concentrations in which they will center their studies on rehabilitation, or working with children or the elderly. Regardless of concentration, audiology master's programs help prepare students to be able to determine the degree of hearing loss and the audiometric configuration of that hearing loss. This requires knowledge of the outer, middle and inner ear, the auditory nerve, brainstem and cortex.
While students are free to choose an audiology concentration, all students in a master's in audiology program will likely be required to take certain core classes. Core audiology courses include; physics, genetics, communication development and pharmacology. Additional audiology courses that might be of interest of audiology master's students include peripheral and central hearing loss assessment and treatment, and auditory, balance and neural systems assessment and treatment.
Sound measurement and waves are very important to the study of audiology. Students pursuing their master's in audiology may participate in audiology courses that teach them to measure sound levels and to use the equipment necessary to do so. They might also learn to conduct such tuning fork tests as the Schwahach, Rinne, Bing and Weber tests.
Other topics covered by audiology courses may include speech-reading training, hearing aid orientation and auditory perceptual training. Audiology graduate courses equip students with the knowledge and hands-on experience needed to enhance their interpersonal, communication, interpretive, diagnostic and objectivity skills. Once students earn a Masters or PhD degree in audiology, they will be ready for the next chapter of their journey to becoming audiology professionals.
In order to enter audiology careers, students will need to gain state certification in addition to earning a Masters in audiology. Students may opt to also obtain the Certification of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology(CFCC), which is part of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association(ASHA).
Graduates with a Masters degree in audiology may find that there are interesting career opportunities that may be available to them. After all, we are an aging society these days, and as the baby boomer generation approaches retirement age, audiologists will be kept busy for years treating hearing loss and balance disorders.
Audiologists might identify potential career opportunities in a wide variety of settings including; educational institutions, hospitals, community and private clinics, and assisted-living facilities. Some students may go on to pursue audiology careers with local, state or federal governments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of an audiologists was $69,720 in 20121. Careers in audiology may be extremely rewarding. They might also be exciting due to the advances being made in the field by audiology leaders around the world. Audiology provides an opportunity to work on the cutting-edge of science while helping people and enhancing quality of life in the process.