Audiologists identify and assess hearing and balance functions. They do this by interpreting diagnostic tests and recommending the appropriate treatment. Their work involves giving advice and information to help patients develop the skills they need to manage difficulties.
Their patients may include newborn babies, children, adults and older people. Audiologists can also prescribe hearing aids and advise patient’s on how to use them.
Starting your career
Choosing subjects at school
To become an audiologist, you need a good standard of education. Useful subjects include:
- Human Biology
A Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare, taken in S5 or S6, could give you valuable work experience.
If you’re at school, work experience could help you when applying to college, university or for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS.
College and university
Most universities accept a wide range of qualifications, giving you the option of applying directly from school or going to college first.
At college, you could do an HNC or HND to set you on the right path. These include:
Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. If you’re an adult with few or no qualifications, you can get into higher education through the Scottish Widening Access Programme (SWAP). Many universities also provide access programmes to help you get the degree entry qualifications you need.
Two SWAP programmes that could provide the qualifications needed for university entry into a life sciences undergraduate programme are:
Successful completion of the course could lead to a degree in a life science subject at a university that participates in the SWAP partnership programme.
There are different options for you to become an audiologist at NHSScotland.
A clinical physiology programme is available from Glasgow Caledonian University with Glasgow Kelvin College of Further Education. You should look for a position as an NHS employed practitioner trainee to gain acceptance onto this course. The programme is largely work-based with 2 days a week academic contact. It is a 4-year course and covers audiology, cardiac, neuro and respiratory physiology training. Upon completion, you are eligible to join the Academy for Healthcare Science register.
You could also gain an Honours degree in a science or relevant subject, such as:
- Biological Sciences
- Speech Language Therapy
Afterwards, you can apply to study an MSc in Audiology at Queen Margaret University. This course provides a fast-track route to an audiology qualification for individuals who hold a degree in a related discipline. You will complete placement-based and university-based professional practice. Upon completion, you are eligible to join the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP).
Upon completion, you will also be able to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
For more information on related further and higher education courses, search My World of Work. You should check specific entry requirements before applying.
As an audiologist, you will support people who may have lost their hearing or people with medical conditions that could affect their hearing or balance. You will test and measure people’s hearing using specialist equipment such as audiometers.
Working with patients who have balance problems will allow you to assess and diagnose neurological problems. You will be involved in the assessment of ear-related balance problems.
You will also help select and fit hearing aids or other devices when necessary. You will give advice on how to best use the supports and provide emotional support to patient’s struggling to come to terms with wearing them.
What you’ll do
Your main tasks include:
- administer auditory tests for babies, children and adults
- physically examine the outer ears including the ear canal and eardrum (otoscopy)
- interpret and report on test results to help clinical staff diagnose what is causing hearing problems
- test the patient’s sense of balance and check for symptoms of neurological disease
- take an impression of the patient’s ear for making the ear mould for a hearing aid
- test and maintain devices, such as hearing aids
You may be involved in carrying out new research or providing support to other clinical physiology staff.
You’ll need these skills:
- caring for people
- communicating with people
- working in a team
Who you’ll work with
You could work with:
- ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons
- speech and language therapists
You could work in:
- ENT clinics
To work as an audiologist in NHSScotland, you will need to:
- complete occupational health checks
- be registered with the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists (RCCP) or register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
- join the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme managed by Disclosure Scotland
Did you know?
There are over 250 audiologists in NHSScotland.
Learning and development
You can also register with the British Academy of Audiology (BAA). Membership of the BAA provides the opportunity to attend courses such as:
- adult hearing loss
- implantable hearing technology
- tinnitus adviser training
As an audiologist, you would be expected to undertake continuing professional development (CPD). This is in order to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. You must also do this to maintain your registration with the HCPC and RCCP. Your CPD should be varied and balanced. It can include:
- applying for research grants
- post-qualification training courses
- presenting research and papers at conferences
- personal-psychological counselling for professional purposes
Queen Margaret University also offers an MSc in Rehabilitative Audiology for those with at least 3 years’ post-qualification experience and a CPD portfolio.
Gaining qualifications will help your career prospects. As your career progresses, you could move into a more senior or clinical management role, including leading your own team or controlling a budget.
You may decide to specialise in a field such as:
- adult assessment and rehabilitation
- research and development
- special needs groups
- cochlear implants
- other implanted hearing aid devices
- specialist tinnitus services
There will be opportunities for you to teach or train current staff or the next generation of audiologists. With an MSc or PhD in audiology or relevant subjects, you could move into teaching.
Some audiologists also undertake clinical academic research.