What do your hearing professional’s credentials really mean?

Do you know the difference between a Hearing Instrument Specialist and a Hearing Aid Practitioner? How about the difference between an Audiologist and an Otolaryngologist? They’re all hearing professionals, but they have different specialties and academic backgrounds. If you’ve ever been confused by these titles, read below and find out what your hearing professional’s credentials really mean!

1. Audiologist

Every audiologist in Canada has, at minimum, a master’s degree in Audiology. Their high level of education allows them to qualify, assess and treat a wide range of hearing disorders including tinnitus, balance disorders associated with hearing, and auditory processing disorders with the brain. Audiologists can assist with hearing aids and other assistive listening devices as well.

2. Hearing Instrument Specialist

Hearing Instrument Specialists, (or Hearing Aid Specialists) have a more narrow field of expertise than an Audiologist does. These hearing professionals are trained in a two-year program to conduct hearing tests, select and fit hearing aids, recommend additional assistive listening devices and counsel hearing aid patients.

3. Hearing Aid Practitioner

A Hearing Aid Practitioner has the same qualifications as a Hearing Instrument Specialist. In Ontario, a Hearing Aid Practitioner is referred to as a Hearing Instrument Specialist.

4. Otolaryngologists or ENTs

Otolaryngologists, or ear, nose, throat specialists (ENTs). These physicians diagnose diseases of the ears, nose, sinuses, larynx, mouth, and throat. ENTs also manage diseases within the structures of the neck and face. Otolaryngologists typically deal with ear, nose and throat diseases that require surgery such as hearing loss caused by trauma, severe infection and tumors.

Each practitioner plays an important role in our hearing health, whether the hearing loss is minimal or severe. If you think you may have hearing loss, speak to your doctor or visit a hearing professional.