Audiologist vs HIS

I apologize in advance if this has already been discussed somewhere…

What are you thoughts on an audiologist vs an Hearing Instrument Specialist? Right now, from what I was quoted, it means close to $1000 difference in the cost of one hearing aid… (The place with the HIS being cheaper.)

Is there anything I should know? Can an audiologist provide a much superior service with it comes to ajusting/programming etc. my hearing aid?

Thank you.

When it comes to the Hearing Instrument Specialist, I think there is a shade more variance, because some states require less training and have an easier exam. Some states require a college degree, others do not.

But that said, unless you have an education or the ability to learn, it’s not an easy exam to pass even if it is multiple choice (which I strongly disagree with in almost every case). Right now, the company I used to work for is trying to put two trainees through the exam. One of them, who has a college degree, failed it twice and still has not passed. The other is a qualified teacher, and he failed the exam three times, and is now forced to wait a year to retake it.

Neither of them even made it to the practical exam.

So in some ways a lack of good training and heavy self study of what is a difficult subject does make it hard for an HIS.

There are several kinds of audiologist. Most have a masters degree, which takes two years after their undergraduate degree, which is often completely unrelated to audiology. Of course some have taken it further and received a AuD, which is more impressive and more time in school. I have a lot more respect for these people in terms of their knowledge and ability. As a general rule, these guys REALLY know their stuff. That said, knowing your stuff, and translating into practically helping patients is not always a guarantee.

So when it comes down to it, I really think that it comes down to the individual. I could find you a worthless Audiologist who I wouldn’t trust to clean my toilet. I could find you a brilliant HIS who would do a breath taking job. Unfortunately, the reverse can also be true.

So what you have to find is a hearing professional who clearly cares, knows their stuff, offers value for money, and you trust to help you. I don’t think you can make the statement that an Audiologist with always give you better or worse service than an HIS. It depends on the person.

If I were new to all this I’d just get a bunch of tests, perhaps as many as five, and get a gut feeling for which professional I trust to help me. Weighing that against the technology I was being offered, the services, and the price.

With the Internet you can certainly go to a site like Hearing Planet and see just how much they quote for the aids, and from that at least get a sense if you are being offered value or not.

Having worn aids since age 7 I originally went to an audiologist affiliated with
the local hospital. As I became older and the very good audiologist left there
I found/realized I couldn’t get good HA service there. I generally need tubing changed for my molds every now and then. I looked at some of the larger
audiologist in my area and found they were similar to my original facility. Namely, they were geared toward kids/pediatrics and had very little time to devote to me for a hearing exam or tubing change. I couldn’t imagine where they would find time to adjust a HA should I buy one from them.

Basically as an older HA wearer I found my needs for HA service conflicts with
most of the audiologist facilities in my area. For example, most of these place can change hearing aid tubing for me or do a hearing exam; I can schedule an appointment for 2 weeks from now at 1pm in the afternoon. ( At my last
hearing exam, if I wanted to discuss hearing aids options I had to schedule another appointment).

So I’ve been using my licensed dispenser for many years for service/adjustments. The service for molds, adjustments, has been excellent
for a myself as adult. He is up on the latest models/software. Sold me my
first digital aids and always has time for me.

In that regard, I use an audiologist for my test (in my insurance plan) but rely on my dispenser to provide me with service that, unfortunately, I seem to need. This arrangement has worked for me. I can recommend it for any adult that requires good HA service.

As I need HAs soon I’m in the same pickle as you are though. Do I rely on my trustworthy dispenser? Or, using the HearPO discount from my insurance, do I try a new assigned facility that gives a discount, may have exellent audiologists, but may not be able to give me time for future visits/service?

I’m sure there are audiologist in my area that can provide good followup service… I just haven’t been able to find any. I’m sure where other people live its different.

Hi Laura2008

If you have any friends or co-workers that wear hearing aids, ask who they use and how happy they are with the service. You could look in the phone book and visit several offices. You don’t necessarily need to get a hearing test every place you visit, but you should be able to get a sense for how they work. And if the Audiologist can spend a few minutes talking with you about what you need, so much the better. Personally, I’d also visit the Better Business Bureau web site and see if they have any registered complaints. I also like it if they’re a BBB member, but that’s just me. I’m new to hearing aids (4 months now) and elected to use an Audiologist, at least until I’m a little more knowledgeable about the whole process. I think you’ll find that the majority of providers out there are caring and competent, and will work hard for your business. I believe the “bozos” are a small minority.


I have used both. Personally I love my current audi, though I know she is a rare find. Like what was mentioned before a big thing for me is a person who has the time to sit down and go over things with me, makes themselves available, and is working to work WITH me. This is harder to find than it should be.

When I was younger I also went through my local hospitals audi department. I hated absolutly every audiologist I saw there. This could have been because I was a disgruntled child being put through hearing tests every three months, or because the audiologists were truly bad.

When I moved several months ago I needed to find an audi. I asked my doctor for a referal and she said the soonest she could get me in to see one was in 6 months! That wasn’t going to fly so I set out to find my own. I did what was mentioned by someone else (I am sorry I don’t remember who) and went to several of the different chains of hearing aid despensers here. The first three were horrible. The audiologists didn’t care about me or my hearing health care at all. I did audiograms with all of them and some of them weren’t even complete. Having been doing the hearing aid thing for a while and having had countless audiograms I have become fairly familiar with what is routine and what isn’t. Finally when I found my current audi I was over joyed with the service I received. It is a small clinic, only her and her secretary. They both know me very well now and will always make time to see me if needed. My advice is find someone who knows their stuff, that you are comfortable with - either audiologist or HIS.

i agree with zct, there is more variance with HIS… there are some great HIS, but it is a fact that generally audis have more formal training (school)…

in addition, to formal training, you need people skills to fit HI, sometimes this is not something you learn @ school

Very true, some of my audiologist collegues are great at theory and assesments, but squirm at new technology, while others are very proficient. I do not believe that theory alone is that useful when it comes to hearing aids. Technical prowess and willingness and ability to really listen to your client is an Art which both audiologists and HIS can have. I have met great audiologists and great HIS’s and poor ones too.

I completely agree. I’ve met some hopeless people from both sides of the fence. I’m not sure you can state that picking one or the other (at least for a typical adult loss) is going to yield better results, it is all down to the individual.

My wife is getting a PhD in Counseling right now. I can tell you, there are some students who are set to graduate, and I wouldn’t trust them to give therapy to my cat! They are CRAZY!

You can have all the qualifications imaginable and still suck. So always use your judgment with a hearing professional, and don’t be fooled by certificates and job titles.

I decided to go with HIS and my experience has been 100% positive. Originally, I had gone to see the audiologist but he was not very forthcoming with information and just didn’t seem that friendly.

My HIS is an extremely nice lady who has been working with Widex (the hearing aid I have is a widex) and has gone out of her way to make sure I’m happy (Widex was giving us a rough time and kept sending either the wrong thing or forgetting parts of it, ie. the remote, etc.). Anyway, I have nothing but good things to say about my HIS.

That said, that is one audiologist and one HIS. You guys are all right when saying it is really depending on each person’s personal experience and depending on the professional individual as well.

I was getting my first HAs a few months ago.
I wanted a successful result
I wanted to hear the best I was able
Of course, I wanted to pay the least amount required
But there was to be no compromising when it came to my ability to hear.
I don’t mind paying $20…$30…or $40,000 for a good car why would I quibble about a few dollars when it comes to my hearing?

Piece of mind that I am getting the best avaiable is worth a great deal.
That is my take on the situation.