The Difference Between a Hearing Instrument Specialist and an Audiologist

Given the recent expansion of hearing health into major retailers and big box stores, there are more options for purchasing hearing aids than ever before. However, when it comes to treating your hearing health, the expertise of your provider is a significant factor. There are different tiers of hearing care professionals and understanding these key differences will allow you to make educated decisions regarding your hearing health.

Hearing Instrument Specialists (HIS)

Also known as hearing aid specialists or simply “dispensers,” these professionals are trained in hearing evaluations and fittings. Their knowledge is often gained on-the-job and does not require formalized training, though a few 2-year hearing instrument science programs do exist. In order to receive a license to dispense, an individual must have either a diploma or GED and pass a qualifying exam. A hearing instrument specialist can test for hearing loss, select and sell hearing aids, and perform ear impressions for custom earmolds.

Audiologists (AuD)

An audiologist is considered an expert in the field of audiology. In order to become an audiologist, one must complete between 6-8 years of higher education and receive either a master’s or doctorate degree. In addition to the selection and fitting of hearing aids, audiologists are able to provide thorough diagnostics, evaluation and treatment for hearing and balance disorders.
The primary differences between these two professions are level of expertise and scope of work. Both provide valuable services to the community, and the decision on which hearing health professional to select should be determined by your needs. If you’ve been diagnosed with a hearing loss and it has been determined that a hearing aid is the best solution for your loss, a hearing instrument specialist will be able to help in the selection of a hearing device. If your hearing loss requires medical treatment or if you are seeking treatment for a hearing or balance disorder, you’ll need to see an audiologist.

Whether you choose to visit a hearing instrument specialist or audiologist for your hearing aid needs, the important thing is that you are proactive about your hearing health. If you’re looking for a Doctor of Audiology, Arizona Hearing Specialists can help! We’ve been at the forefront of hearing healthcare in Tucson and its surrounding communities since 1981. To learn more, we welcome you to contact our team at (520) 399-7630!

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Arizona Hearing Specialists
Arizona Hearing Specialists