"I'm sorry. You're speaking too quietly. Can you speak up?" Your friend
raises her voice, but you still can't make out her words. Could the problem
be your hearing? Hearing loss can happen because of aging, disease or occupational
Occupational noise from equipment such as jackhammers, chainsaws and heavy
machinery can cause significant hearing loss. In fact, any loud or repeated
noise such as music in a nightclub, gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers
or a rifle shot can harm a person's ears. Continued exposure to any noise
above 85 decibels is considered a risk for hearing loss.
Audiometric technicians test the hearing of people of all ages and from
all walks of life. Hearing can affect speech development in children. That's
why it's especially important to pick up any hearing problems in infancy.
In order to protect against hearing loss on the job, audiometric technicians
advise workers to wear protective equipment on their ears. Audiometric technicians
also routinely test these workers for hearing loss by performing an audiogram.
During this test, an audiometric technician asks a worker to sit in a soundproof
booth. The worker is then asked to respond when they can hear a pure-tone
sound. The softest sound a person can hear is called his hearing threshold.
This hearing test is plotted on a graph called an audiogram. When a person
is retested after working in a noisy environment, the hearing threshold may
change. That means that the person can no longer hear as soft a sound as they
heard before, and may have permanent hearing damage.
Audiometric technicians may work in hospitals and private health clinics.
They might also work at occupational health clinics, large companies and manufacturing
plants. Mobile testing is also performed. Technicians can be hired as employees
or contract out their services.
Many people, such as nurses, occupational health workers and hearing aid
dispensers, may be trained as audiometric technicians. They would do the work
as a part of their regular job.
Most audiometric technicians work a regular 9-to-5 workweek. "We may start
working six days to do testing on the weekend," says Toni Saxton. She is an
audiometric technician. "For now, we work regular office hours."
Audiometric technicians need to be able to move about a patient to apply
testing devices and to monitor computers. "I'm on the move all the time,"
says Saxton. However, she says that with advancing technology, people in wheelchairs
may soon be able to do the work.