CARLSBAD, CA—Audiology is rated as the sixth best career for 2012, according to an article published last week in The Wall Street Journal (April 11, page B6). The annual ranking of America’s 200 best (and worst) occupations was compiled by the California-based CareerCast.com. This year’s list promoted audiology three notches from the ninth spot in CareerCast’s 2011 report.
What makes audiology such a good career choice—trailing only software engineer, actuary, human resources manager, dental hygienist, and financial planner? There’s no simple answer, as the methodology that the Internet career site uses to determine its rankings is fairly complicated.
As an online article by Victoria Brienza explains, CareerCast assigned a combined score to each of 200 common occupations based on their ratings on five key factors: work environment (including physical and emotional environmental factors), physical demands, hiring outlook, income levels (including both average income and growth potential), and stress. Income and hiring outlook each accounted for one-third of a career’s overall score, while the remaining third reflected work environment, physical demands, and stress levels.
Audiology was rated especially highly in two areas: hiring outlook and stress. Its score in the former category was better than any of the other top ten career choices or than that of speech pathology, which was the 11th ranked profession. The high expectations for job prospects in audiology undoubtedly reflects the aging of the baby boom generation and the skyrocketing incidence of hearing loss that is expected to accompany that phenomenon.
Low stress, says CareerCast
When it comes to stress levels, audiology ranked even lower (lower is better, when it comes to stress). Of the 200 occupations examined, very few—including jeweler and hair stylist—were deemed less stressful. Virtually all the others, including speech pathologist and even librarian, have higher stress levels, according to CareerCast.
The “stress factors” used in the rankings included meeting deadlines, physical demands, competitiveness, hazards encountered, and meeting the public. However, the list of job stress factors did not include the challenge of caring for a largely geriatric clientele who are often very reluctant to invest in products and services that they think they don’t need and they suspect won’t work very well even if they do need help with their hearing.
It’s not about the pay
Audiologists’ pay scale was not one of the reasons for their high ranking. CareerCast reported an average annual income of $67,137, which was the lowest of the top ten careers listed. It was nearly identical to the $67,142 figure for speech pathologists. However, audiology scored much better in the job outlook category and was also rated as somewhat less stressful than speech.
WHAT ABOUT DISPENSERS?
How do audiologists compare with hearing instrument specialists on income, stress levels, and employment prospects? CareerCast isn’t saying, as non-audiologist dispensers of hearing aids were not among the 200 occupations ranked.