Hearing Instrument Sciences FAQs

What do hearing instrument specialists do?

  • Conduct hearing tests
  • Recommend assistive listening devices
  • Complete custom ear impressions
  • Recommend hearing instrument fittings
  • Adjust physical and electroacoustic parameters of hearing instruments
  • Counsel patients on expectations and outcomes of hearing hearing instruments

How is the job market for hearing instrument specialists?

Job Outlook

The market for hearing instrument specialists is currently strong. This is due in part to the rise in the aging population in America. According to the Administration of Aging’s (AoA) website (www.aoa.gov): “People 65+ represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but will likely grow to 19% of the population by 2030.”


The program encourages students to consider relocating for employment as the demand in major cities (and certain rural areas) throughout the Midwest is particularly high. Although there are many hearing clinics throughout southwest Missouri, competition for job openings in this region will be higher due to the amount of our graduates who live in the region.

What is the starting salary I can anticipate after obtaining licensure?

Starting salaries vary largely from clinic to clinic. For instance, as of May of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median income for hearing instrument specialist as $47,820 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292092.htm).

According to statistics gathered in July of 2015, employed graduates of the HIS programs currently make an average of $54,877. However, some clinics offer a set salary while others offer a base salary plus commission. Consequently, you will learn how to read a job offer and what different business models look like in the field.

How much of being a hearing instrument specialist is sales?

Although sales is certainly an element of being a hearing instrument specialist, the focus should never be on selling hearing aids. In short, high pressure sales are not to the best interest of the patient and therefore should be avoided.

How long does it take to complete the program?

HIS Courses

The HIS program takes about 24 months to complete. This time includes the time needed to complete general education requirements. Students who previously complete their general education requirements can expect to finish the HIS courses in four semesters.

General Education

The programs gives students the option to take their general education courses before, during or after the required HIS courses. The HIS program is available in part-time or full-time enrollment. Students will be assigned an advisor once accepted into the program. Their advisor will help the student set up an educational plan.

When do classes meet? Is it possible to complete online?

In State

The HIS program is a blended program, meaning some of the courses are completely held online and some of the courses are in a hybrid format. The hybrid courses require students inside the state of Missouri (or anyone who wishes) to attend scheduled lab sessions on the Springfield campus or at a previously approved location within the state of Missouri.

Out of State

Those students outside the state of Missouri will need to contact the program director for approval of off-site labs. Off-site labs will consist of real-time web conferences. Students using this option will view recorded videos and complete a workbook equivalent to on-campus lab requirements.

How rigorous is the HIS program?

The HIS program is very rigorous. Students should plan to study a minimum of 2-3 hours per week for every credit hour taken (approximately 24-36 hours a week). It is difficult to work while participating in the HIS program and the program does not recommend doing so. The program expects that students put the program first and work their schedules around class, lab and practicum requirements.

How many hours a week will I spend in clinicals?

As part of the program, we require students to complete clinical hours during their clinical practicum courses. These classes are typically completed the third, fourth and fifth semester of the program.

Clinical Practicum I

Students can anticipate spending 6-8 hours a week in clinicals.

Clinical Practicum II and Clinical Practicum III

Students will spend 12 hours a week in clinicals. These hours will need to be completed during normal clinic office hours. Occasionally a clinical site will offer paid internships while the student is completing clinical hours.

Do I need to find a site for clinicals?

Students who establish a relationship with a clinic will often be able to use this clinic as their practicum site. The program must approve any sites used for student practicums. The HIS faculty will place students who do not have a clinical site in a clinic. The program encourages students within reasonable driving distance of Springfield, MO to participate in clinical rotations in the HIS program hearing clinic. For students who live outside of this area, the program will make an effort to keep the clinical site within a 100 miles radius of his or her reside. However, we cannot guarantee this. Students need to be flexible and available to complete clinicals wherever the program places them.

What about licensure after graduation?

In State

Students in the HIS program at OTC are eligible for licensure in the state of Missouri upon graduation. Graduates may apply for licensure as a Hearing Instrument Specialist from the State of Missouri Board of Professional Registration. The program encourages students pursuing licensure in Missouri to start the licensure process during their last semester at OTC. You can find more information about licensure in Missouri at: http://pr.mo.gov/hearing.asp.

Out of State

Any student wishing to become licensed outside of Missouri should consult their state licensing rules and regulations. HIS faculty are glad to help students through to process. However, they are not responsible for knowing each states’ laws. You can find more information at: http://www.asha.org/advocacy/state/.
After achieving licensure, the OTC HIS program graduate may also apply for Board Certification from the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (NBC-HIS). The board waves the two years of licensure requirement for NBC-HIS applicants for our graduates.

How do I apply to the HIS program?

The HIS program is a selective admission program. Application to the program is made separately from application for admission to OTC. Individuals interested in the program can find application process information at: academics.otc.edu/alliedhealth/hearing-instrument-science/.

When is the application deadline?

Deadline for application is the last day of the semester prior to taking HIS 170 Clinical Practicum I. While there is no preference given to candidates who submit an application earlier than the deadline, the program encourages students to complete the application process earlier than the deadline if possible.

What courses do I need to complete before I can apply to the HIS program?


The HIS program currently does not have any prerequisites. However, it does evaluate potential candidates based on a point system. The system awards points to students who have already completed some or all of the required general education courses. For a list of the general education courses OTC requires, refer to: academics.otc.edu/alliedhealth/hearing-instrument-science/ and click on the document titled “Preferred Course Sequence.”

Does the program maintain a waiting list of qualified applicants from year to year?

No. While some programs draw from a list of applicants from years past, we do not have a waiting list. Each year we choose from those applicants who applied applied to the program in that cycle. We then select the most qualified applicants from that group every year. The program encourages previously unsuccessful applicants to reapply.

When does the HIS program start?

The HIS program starts each fall and spring semester.