Pediatric audiologists are specialists who help children cope with hearing loss and other health problems related to the ear. People in this career use specialized medical devices such as audiometers and computers to diagnose the extent of hearing problems. In order to become a pediatric audiologist, individuals must complete several years of college education beyond a bachelor's degree, and receive specialized health training.
A job as a pediatric audiologist begins in college. Students must attend a four-year college and obtain a bachelor's degree. No specific undergraduate degree is required, but audiologist candidates typically study communication, biology, and other areas that related to an audiology career. Maintaining adequate grades during the first four years of college are important.
After completing a bachelor's degree, students must apply for an audiology graduate program. This program involves another four years of study at a university, and results in a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) professional degree. During the four years of study in this doctoral specialty, future audiologists must take courses such as abnormal communications development and advanced anatomy.
Students must participate in clinical internships during the final year of the graduate program. During this internship, candidates work hands-on with actual patients and are supervised by veteran audiologists. To be successful, audiology students must combine clinical knowledge with strong communication skills. The ability to communicate effectively is especially important for audiologists who specialize in working with young children.
An Au.D. degree alone does not allow an individual to become a pediatric audiologist. Even after eight years of college, audiologists must be licensed by the state. Each state has its own licensing requirements. Typically, pediatric audiologists must demonstrate their knowledge of the profession and enroll in continuing education programs in order to remain licensed. Some states require a separate licensing process for audiologists to legally dispense hearing aid devices.
Certified individuals have several career options after completing the rigorous process to become a pediatric audiologist. Some audiologists work in hospitals or clinics. Others work in smaller private offices, or start their own practices. Pediatric audiologists with several years of work experience are eligible for positions supervising other specialists.
The career outlook for qualified pediatric audiologists is projected to be positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2008 and 2018, audiology employment will have increased by 25 percent. The diagnosis of hearing problems in infants and children is much higher than in the past. As the demand for this specialty rises, the advancement opportunities for pediatric audiologists will also increase.