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Professional Preparation

The preparation to become a Hearing Aid Specialist can be attained through two pathways: the academic training model or the workplace training approach. Academic training is available at a few colleges in the U.S. and Canada. The workplace training model is a more common pathway for entry into the dispensing profession. It is on-the-job training or an apprenticeship program. This alternate approach is encouraged and supported not only by the International Hearing Society (IHS) but also by most states and Canadian provinces in their eligibility requirements for licensure. The knowledge and skill sets necessary for safe and effective clinical practice are acquired under the supervision of the appropriately licensed/registered hearing healthcare professional. Fundamental knowledge is gained through the IHS’ standardized curriculum, specifically, the Distance Learning for Professionals in Hearing Health Sciences course.

Development Diagram: Career Path of a Hearing Aid Specialist

Licensing Requirements

Each U.S. state and Canadian province has different rules and regulations. We encourage candidates to contact their state/provincial licensing agency for requirements in their area. In most jurisdictions a competency test is required.

Education and Training

The International Hearing Society’s Distance Learning for Professionals in Hearing Health Sciences course is the premier study program for those considering a career in in hearing care and for preparing for competency exams. Developed by leading practitioners and educators, students learn the fundamentals through the comprehensive curriculum based on the core competencies of the profession. When paired with on-the-job training and the IHS Trainer Manual, the course primes qualified students with a well-rounded background for safe and effective independent practice.

Course Materials

This course is anchored by the Distance Learning for Professionals in Hearing Health Sciences workbook. The workbook will guide you through the course curriculum and contains 40 lessons and tests. To pass the course, students must complete all 39 tests and receive a minimum score of 75% on the online final examination.  A certificate of completion will be awarded upon completing the course.    

Mentors and/or students should consider purchasing the IHS Trainer Manual.  It is aligned to the course lessons in the workbook and offers the hands-on activities that apply the knowledge to specific clinical scenarios.  It provides the trainer a tool to measure student performance and offer guidance that will help the student connect their knowledge with practical skills development. 

How to Prepare for a Career in Hearing Care

Together, the Trainer Manual and the Distance Learning for Professionals in Hearing Health Sciences course provide students and trainers with a roadmap that guides each through an integrated learning experience. It is the responsibility of the trainee to learn the fundamentals of the profession. It is the responsibility of the trainer to be knowledgeable in all aspects of hearing instrument fitting and dispensing and to provide real-life experiences that incorporates the “book work” into practice. The goal is the total preparation of the trainee for competent, independent professional practice. The course materials are paramount to learning the foundations of the profession. They are enduring references that will become part of student’s professional library.

Licensing Examinations

Once a student or apprentice has completed all of the qualifications for licensure as determined by their local jurisdiction’s laws and regulations, they are considered a minimally qualified candidate and may take the examination(s) that ultimately grant their status as a practitioner. Many jurisdictions use the International Licensing Examination for Hearing Health Professionals (the “ILE”) for the written competency test. The exam is practice-based meaning that the questions require the candidate to understand and apply, analyze and evaluate experiences in everyday professional work. They can be answered correctly only when knowledge and skill are adequate in all aspects of patient/client care. A study guide is available to assist the candidate with exam preparation.

Another tool used by many professional governing bodies (licensing boards) is a practical examination. This is a hands-on demonstration of the essential technical skills needed to practice as a hearing aid specialist. For jurisdictions that require both written and practical exams, candidates must pass each to demonstrate that they can competently and safely perform the duties of a hearing aid specialist.

IHS Licensing Exam Process – How does it Work?

The Role of a Hearing Aid Specialist:

The Hearing Aid Specialist is an allied health professional who has the training, knowledge and experience required to address the amplification needs of individuals with hearing loss. The primary employment responsibilities include:

Job Outlook:

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment of Hearing Aid Specialists is expected to grow by 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. See more at: An aging population is anticipated to lead to greater demand for hearing healthcare services. People usually have hearing health problems in greater frequency when they reach middle age, so the need for hearing instrument specialists is expected to grow with the increase in the number of older people. Hearing instrument specialists are finding employment in group or private practices.