The time has come for you to get hearing aids. You may find yourself tempted by some of the sales currently on at your local hearing aid dispenser.

But before you walk through their door, it’s essential to consider the differences between a hearing aid dispenser and an audiologist. What you will find may surprise you and, even more so, affect your hearing’s long-term health.

In this blog, we’ll compare both options to help you decide what is best for you or a loved one. After all, it’s a critical decision to make.

Hearing Aid Dispensers

The main objective of a hearing aid dispenser is to sell hearing aids. Therefore, the hearing tests they perform are tailored explicitly with hearing aids as an outcome in mind.

The customer has a hearing test, and the hearing aid dispenser will recommend hearing aids for their current level of hearing loss.

That’s it. Once the purchase is made, the relationship is essentially over.

Hearing aid dispensers are high school graduates who will most likely train as an apprentice alongside another hearing aid dispenser. They have no medical background or knowledge. They simply know how to perform a hearing test and then sell the customer hearing aids.

Additionally, hearing aid dispensers can only treat adult customers, and they are not qualified to bill the majority of insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Schedule A Hearing Assessment


An audiologist is a licensed medical doctor. They know everything about the inner workings of our ears and vestibular system.

Our ears are pretty complicated organs, and so their knowledge is also vast. It includes performing hearing sensitivity tests, understanding middle and inner ear functions, addressing tinnitus, helping patients with balance and dizziness disorders, offering cochlear implants, and so much more.

Hearing aid sales aren’t a priority, but the patient’s hearing health is. Therefore, the medical cause of a patient’s hearing loss will be assessed along with their family’s medical history.

Any problems with earwax or infection will be treated. If a patient needs hearing aids, many factors will be carefully considered, such as their lifestyle and budget.

Most importantly, though, the first hearing test with an audiologist will mark the beginning of a long-term relationship. After that, changes to hearing will be regularly monitored, and adjustments to treatment will be made as required.

Patients can depend on their audiologist to answer any questions or offer support when it’s most needed. For example, sometimes hearing devices need several adjustments initially; sometimes, patients may have new hearing concerns. The audiologist will join the patient and support them on their journey to better hearing whenever reassurance and encouragement are needed.

Unlike hearing aid dispensers, audiologists can treat children, and they are legally allowed to bill insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Audiologists work in many environments, from private practices to hospitals, schools to nursing homes, not-for-profit organizations, to government agencies. But the one thing all audiologists have in common is their commitment to their patients’ long-term hearing health.

With offices in Algonquin, Elgin, and St. Charles, Fox Valley ENT strives to improve our patients’ lives. To begin your journey to better hearing, contact us today to arrange a hearing test with one of our friendly audiologists.

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Joseph, T Pacer

Joe Pacer has been an Audiologist with Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates since 1988. He received his Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from Northern Illinois University in 1986 where he continued and received his Master of Arts in Audiology in 1988. He is a member of the American Academy of Audiology. Joe works closely with his patients and has extensive experience performing hearing evaluation as well as recommending, fitting and trouble shooting hearing aids.