In the U.S. today, a person can purchase hearing aids from two types of dispensers: Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists (formally known as hearing aid dealers). Both groups are licensed to dispense hearing aids, but come to this activity based on significantly different paths of formal education and training.
A professional doctorate (the Au.D.) is now required of all audiologists entering the profession of audiology. Audiologists receive their specialized training in colleges and universities. Previously, the minimum of a master’s degree was required in order to be eligible for professional certification (CCC-A) and to meet state licensing requirements. Before being certified, audiologists must also pass a standardized, national competency examination.
State licensure practices for hearing instrument specialists, on the other hand, are less standardized across the country. The general requirement typically specifies a high-school diploma or two-year degree, the passage of a written and practical examination, and training or apprenticeship ranging from 6 to 12 months before a hearing aid dispensing license can be obtained.