Audiologists and speech-language pathologists (NOC 3141)

About this job

Audiologists:

  • diagnose, evaluate and treat individuals with peripheral and central hearing loss, tinnitus and balance problems

Speech-language pathologists:

  • diagnose, assess and treat human communication disorders including speech, fluency, language, voice and swallowing disorders

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists:

  • work for hospitals, community and public health centres, extended care facilities, day clinics, rehabilitation centres and educational institutions
  • may work in private practice

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists who are supervisors are included in this unit group.

Common job titles
  • audiologist, amplification
  • audiologist, certified
  • audiologist, clinical / diagnostic
  • audiologist, pediatric
  • clinician, audiology / speech-language
  • logopedist
  • audiologist, amplification
  • audiologist, certified
  • audiologist, clinical / diagnostic
  • audiologist, community / educational
  • audiologist, dispensing
  • audiologist, industrial

Duties

Audiologists:

  • Use sophisticated equipment to measure hearing loss and select, fit and dispense hearing aids for patients
  • Educate interested groups and professionals on hearing loss prevention, developing and administering hearing screening tests for schools and industries, and promoting community noise reduction
  • Work with individuals who receive cochlear implants and those with balance disorders
  • Develop and administer audiometric tests and examinations using specialized instruments and electronic equipment to diagnose and evaluate the degree and type of patients' hearing impairment
  • Plan and implement habilitation/rehabilitation programs for patients, including selection, fitting and adjustment of amplification devices, such as hearing aids, and teaching speech (lip) reading
  • Provide information to patients and families regarding the nature, extent, impact and implications of hearing loss and treatment
  • Establish personalized care plans working as a member of an interdisciplinary team
  • Conduct research related to hearing and hearing disorders
  • May instruct and supervise audiometric technicians, students and other health care personnel.

Speech-language pathologists:

  • Administer tests and examinations and observe patients to diagnose and evaluate speech, voice, resonance, language, cognitive-linguistic and swallowing disorders
  • Develop, plan and implement remedial programs to correct speech, voice, language, resonance, cognitive-linguistic and swallowing disorders
  • Establish group and personalized care plans working as a member of an interdisciplinary team
  • Provide advice and educational services to patients and families regarding communication and swallowing disorders
  • Conduct research on speech and other communication disorders and on the development and design of diagnostic procedures and devices
  • May instruct and supervise communicative disorders assistants, students and other health care personnel.
  • Use tools that range from books and toys, to linguistic analysis software, sophisticated sound analysers and electronic communication devices
  • Advocate for children and adults with language impairments, working with other human service professionals to promote early education programs and improved services for school age children and adults

Work environment

Most audiologists and speech-language pathologists work in clean, well-lit and well-equipped offices. The majority work in hospitals, schools or community clinics. Other working environments include rehabilitations centres, colleges and universities, health departments, government agencies and research laboratories, and some choose to be in private practice and work in their own offices.

Some audiologists and speech-language pathologists provide home health care which requires extensive daily travel, especially in small communities. Full-time professionals generally work a 36-hour week, which may include working evenings and weekends to meet clients' needs.

Job satisfaction is generally high, due in part to the variety, challenge and independence in these fields. Members of both professions tend to stay in their fields for long periods of time.

Insights from industry

Demand for these workers is driven by a growing and ageing population, greater public health awareness, and new medical technologies and procedures.

Industry reports that audiologists and speech-language pathologists are needed throughout B.C., however, there is increased demand in northern and remote areas. In particular, sources note that public health audiologists are in slightly higher demand in the interior and rural/remote areas of the province.

As employers outside of the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island regions tend to experience difficulties in hiring these professionals when vacancies occur, the B.C. provincial government has offered loan forgiveness to audiologist and speech-language pathology graduates who commit to work in underserved regions of the province.

Industry also reports that there is an insufficient supply of new audiologist and speech-language pathologist graduates.  As a result, positions may be vacant for longer than average periods of time.

As employers in under-served regions tend to experience difficulties in hiring these professionals when vacancies occur, the B.C. provincial government has offered loan forgiveness to physiotherapist graduates who commit to work in these regions.  For more details on the loan-forgiveness program, please view the StudentAid BC website at https://studentaidbc.ca/repay/repayment-help/bc-loan-forgiveness-program.

The range of techniques and services provided by audiologists and speech-language pathologists will continue to change due to new service demands. Seniors now live longer, and life-saving procedures have a greater success rate than in the past, resulting in a higher occurrence of communicative disorders. In addition, increased concern over occupationally induced hearing disorders, and early detection of communication problems in children, has significantly expanded the public role of the audiologist and speech-language pathologist.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates often obtain positions in public health clinics and non-profit child development agencies.

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists may specialize in a specific treatment area or age group. Some may also teach, consult or conduct research.

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists can advance to supervisory, management or administrative positions with experience and training.

Additional resources