By the Division of Professional Licensure

For Consumers

For Licensees

For Consumers

What is the difference between an Audiologist and a Hearing Instrument Specialist?

Audiologists, Hearing Instrument Specialists and Physicians can all help people deal with hearing loss. Below is a brief description of each profession to assist you in choosing a professional who suits your needs.

Audiologists have special training in the prevention, diagnosis and non-medical treatment of hearing disorders and may be found in medical centers, hospitals, clinics, private practice and schools. Qualifications include: a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited university, state licensure, completion of a full-time internship and passing a demanding competency examination. These professionals belong to several national organizations guided by a Code of Ethics. Audiologists are designated by signing their degree (MA, MS, PhD, AuD etc.) and CCC-A (Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology) after their name.

Audiologists provide hearing aid services to adult and pediatric patients with hearing loss. In addition, many audiologists have expertise in balance disorders, industrial hearing loss, prevention and use of assistive listening devices (ALDs) including individual and group listening systems, telecommunication devices and personal alerting equipment.

In order to maintain state licensure, Audiologists are required to complete at least 20 hours of continuing education every 2 year cycle. By virtue of their graduate education, professional certification and licensure, audiologists are qualified to select and verify the performance of hearing aids.

Hearing Instrument Specialists
Hearing Instrument Specialists are individuals who dispense or fit hearing aids, provide ongoing follow-up care, and hearing aid counseling in the use and care of hearing aids and related devices to enhance human communication.

The practice of fitting and dispensing hearing aids means the measurement of human hearing for the purpose of making selections, adaptations, or sales of hearing aids intended to compensate for impaired hearing. By virtue of their training and experience, Hearing Instrument Specialists are qualified to select and verify the performance of hearing instruments. In addition, Hearing Instrument Specialists have practical knowledge in industrial hearing loss prevention, the use of assistive listening devices (ALD's) including individual and group listening systems, telecommunication devices, and personal alerting equipment.

Hearing Instrument Specialists must have at least a high school diploma (or it's equivalent), must pass a state examination, and meet Massachusetts Board approved training requirements. These are: one year apprenticeship in practical hearing instrument fitting, a nationally approved course covering all aspects of dispensing as well as anatomy and physiology, and an exam for licensure. In addition, they must complete 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years in order to maintain Massachusetts state licensure.

BC-HIS Board of Certification: To become Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences, a Hearing Instrument Specialist must pass the National Competency Examination and have at least 2 years of experience. Individuals who have attained the Board Certified Designation are distinguished by the credentials "BC-HIS" following their names.

Audioprosthologists are Hearing Instrument Specialists who have completed 182 additional hours of coursework in assessment of hearing loss, analysis and selection of hearing aids, and management of business operations.

Physicians diagnose and manage the systematic medical conditions that underlie and contribute to hearing loss. They maintain a broad perspective of patients' health, with results in detailed diagnoses.

Otolaryngologists: are physicians (MD or DO) who have completed a residency specializing in the treatment of conditions of the ears, nose & throat (ENT). They are also head & neck surgeons, and treat middle ear disease, perform tonsillectomies & adenoidectomies, sinus surgeries, and other advanced procedures.

Otologists/Neurotologists: These are Otolaryngologists who have completed an additional two year fellowship in Otology/Neurotology to specialize in conditions of the ear. These physicians monitor genetic testing for conditions associated with hearing loss and do the more delicate ear surgeries, including but not limited to cochlear implants, stapedectomies for otosclerosis, and removal of cholesteatomas & acoustic neuromas.


How can I get a print out of all currently licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist?

Contact Computer Services at (617) 727-1794.


For Licensees

I let my license lapsed, how can I reinstate?

Write a letter to the board requesting reinstatement including if you have been working in the field, or working out of state. Include all current information such as name change, and current mailing address/phone number. A letter will be sent to you after the board reviews explaining the reinstatement policy. Also reinstatement is included in the regulations 260-CMR.


How do I get a duplicate license or make a name change?

Call the Board office and leave a message to have a form sent to your home. The fee is $17.00 for a duplicate/ or $27.00 for a name change.


How can I schedule to take the Exam for Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology?


Educational Testing Service
(Praxis Series)
PO Box 6051
Princeton, NJ 08541-6051
The Boards reporting code is 7421.


I need a verification/certificate of my license for another state?

Put your request in writing including your profession, name, license number and the board address it should be sent to. A $15.00 fee is required per verification.


How many Continuing Education Units are needed to renew my license?

20 hours per licensure period are needed to renew your license; the licensure period runs from January 6th of each even-numbered year until January 6th two years later.
The approved sponsors are American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), Massachusetts Speech Language Hearing Association (MSHA), Professional Development Points (PDP), and American Academy of Audiology (AAA). For further information refer to the Rules and Regulations 260-CMR, Section 7.00.


I am already licensed by the Massachusetts Board of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, how do I become authorized to teach in a school setting?

Contact the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE):

75 Pleasant Street
Malden, MA 02148-4906


(781) 338-3000


(800) 439 2370


How can I contact the Massachusetts Speech Language Hearing Association (MSHA)?


Massachusetts Speech Language Hearing Association
411 Waverley Oaks Road, Suite 331B
Waltham, MA 02452
Phone (781) 647-7031
Fax (781) 647-7222



How do I report my CEUs?

From time to time the Board will randomly audit a certain percentage of licensees for proof of their Continuing Education. In the meantime it is the licensee's responsibility to maintain their own file, either personally or through ASHA, in the event the Board requests to see proof. DO NOT SEND THEM TO THE BOARD UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THEY ARE REQUESTED.


How many CEU's do I owe if I was just licensed?

If your initial license was issued less that a year from the renewal date, you only owe 10 hours; if your issue date is less that 180 days from the renewal date you owe none.


I have not received my renewal form, how can I renew?

Call the board office and leave a message including, name, license number, current address and a phone number where you can be reached.