Audiologists are on the low end of the pay scale compared to similar doctoring professions. Independent of profession, women get paid less than men. The higher the educational level, the bigger the gender wage gap. Those are generalized facts from recent posts. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the next step in the analysis: the Audiology profession is overwhelmingly female, which probably explains why our profession ranks low on the doctoring pay scale. Let’s see if that supposition holds up when we throw data at it.
Growth and Gender
Click here to view a slide show of the 20 fastest growing professions for women. Finally, Audiology makes a list, coming in #16. Is this good or bad news? It depends.
We’ve already seen the inverse relationship between occupations’ growth and wage levels (Table 1, To Be or Not To Be). Not surprisingly, most of the fastest growing occupations for women also make the fast-growing low-wage list. Audiology is an exception: it’s not one of the fastest growing occupations in general, but it is if you only consider women. Men are not flocking to our field.
Editor’s query: is it just me or does the picture above bother you too? I mean, why is the Audiologist a MAN?
Gender and Wage
At # 16 Audiology is the only doctoral entry-level profession on the women’s list but not the highest paid. Occupational Therapists get paid more, rank higher on occupational growth lists (#20, male and female; #14, females), and only need a Master’s and a state license to practice.
If you guessed Audiologists were second in earnings, think on. Second highest paid and fifth in growth awards go to… wait for it …. Dental Hygienists. That occupation is composed almost exclusive of females who average $67.5K/year. They do not need a Bachelor’s degree. An Associate’s degree does the trick and there are no uniform requirements for state licensure. Like their clients, I am speechless.
Table 1 cobbles together data from the Forbes list (shown in the pictures) and employment statistics from the Current Population Survey. It’s a bit confusing, but the purpose is to demonstrate ongoing gender and wage asymmetry for the aforementioned occupations. The Forbes data come from BLS data and estimates for 2008 to 2018. These data (rows 2 and 3 in Table 1) show the proportion of females estimated to comprise these professions through 2018, along with the average wages described above.
% Female (2008-2018)
Female Wage (2008-2018)
Mean Wage (May 2012)
Of interest is the comparison to “right now” survey data from CPS (rows 1 and 4). The Audiologists sample in the survey is too small to yield a gender percentage, but there are more females right now in OT and dental hygiene than are predicted in coming years. In other words, men are entering those occupations and I’ll bet it’s because the high wages are attractive. Indeed, the average wage for all three occupations was higher in May 2012 than the female average wage is predicted to be over the 2008-2018 period. Data are tricky and perhaps there is a better answer to why, but I’m sticking with gender gap to explain the difference until I hear otherwise. For Audiologists, the gap is almost $10K/year for females versus the overall population of Audiologists. Assuming a 20/80 split of males versus females in our field (as supported by AAA and ASHA stats), that works out to $108K/year for males versus $63,000 for females, if my algebra is right.
More than most, our profession is heavy on females. That’s why you see “no data” for the percentage of females in Audiology in the Table above. The profession is very small compared to OTs and dental hygienists and the number of females is so high that it’s a problem for BLS to estimate with confidence. They probably got an estimate of 100% female and questioned it, thinking that surely there is one male somewhere who is an Audiologist.
Any way you slice it — big professions, doctoring professions, female segregated professions — women make less than men, especially if they’re in with a bunch of other women. We’ll pursue that line of thought in the next post in this series.