Most people are unaware that in the hearing industry there are two different types of hearing healthcare specialists. There are audiologists and there are hearing instrument specialists. Both are required to be licensed with the state, but their educational background differs quite significantly.
Since 2005, graduating audiologists have been required to have at minimum a doctoral degree in audiology. That is to say that they have at least 4 years of specialized audiology school which focuses on all aspects of hearing and balance. You will see audiologist that do not have doctoral degrees. These are generally audiologist that graduated before 2005 and have not elected to pursue a doctoral degree. Audiology doctoral degrees can either be an Au.D. (Doctorate of audiology), or a Ph.D. in audiology. An Au.D. is much more common than a Ph.D.
Hearing instrument specialists (H.I.S.) generally do not have any specialized education concerning hearing, but are required to pass competency exams. Nevada is one of the stricter states on requirements for hearing instrument specialist. Nevada requires that H.I.S. have at minimum a baccalaureate degree. The degree can be in any subject (i.e. biology, physical education, business, anthropology, etc). Most other states do not have a minimum educational requirement.
What does this mean to you when you are looking to buy hearing aids in Las Vegas? Not all hearing aid offices are the same. There are bad audiologists and there are bad H.I.S. There are good audiologists and there are good H.I.S. The mere educational requirement would suggest that you are more likely to find a good audiologist than a good H.I.S. I know plenty of good H.I.S. and bad audiologist and I know plenty of bad H.I.S. and good audiologists. I have heard innumerable horror stories of people’s hearing aid experiences in Las Vegas. A large majority of those involved H.I.S. and not audiologists.
I cannot think of another industry where you can get your services from a person with a doctoral degree or a person with a high school diploma. Not in medicine, optometry, dentistry, education or any other field can someone with a state license without appropriate education be qualified to do the same job as someone with a state license and a doctorate.
If you have been unable to understand the tone of this article let me make it clear. I believe that you are more likely to get quality hearing healthcare in Las Vegas with an audiologist than with a hearing instrument specialist. If you disagree with any of my statements please feel free to leave a comment. I encourage debate.