What Is a Hearing Instrument Specialist?

Learn what they do and how they differ from audiologists
Last update on Jun, 24, 2024

On your journey to better hearing, there are two licensed professionals you'll encounter along the way: a hearing instrument specialist (HIS) and an audiologist. While both work to address hearing-related issues, they each have different areas of focus and expertise.

In this article, we'll discuss what a hearing instrument specialist does, why this professional is different from an audiologist, and how to find one near you.

Hearing Specialist vs. Audiologist

Hearing instrument specialists

Hearing instrument specialists, also called hearing instrument dispensers, hearing aid dispensers, or hearing aid fitters, are trained and licensed to perform the following responsibilities:

These professionals work closely with you to find the best hearing aid solution for your individual needs, budget, and preferences. They also provide ongoing support by adjusting and maintaining your hearing aids to ensure their optimal function and longevity.


In contrast, audiologists hold advanced clinical degrees and specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders of the auditory and balance systems. They're trained to perform the following services:

  • Conduct comprehensive hearing and balance evaluations.
  • Diagnosis hearing, balance, and tinnitus dysfunction.
  • Provide intervention, including recommending and fitting hearing aids or other treatment options such as cochlear implants. 

So, What's the Key Difference?

Hearing instrument specialists' scope of practice is limited to evaluating hearing for the purpose of recommending and fitting hearing aids and referring you for further treatment if needed, while audiologists have a broader scope that includes diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders.

Can You Work with Both Professionals?

Yes. A collaborative approach can provide comprehensive care for your hearing health needs.

A hearing instrument specialist, for example, can help you with the selection and fitting of hearing aids and ongoing maintenance, while an audiologist can provide in-depth hearing and balance evaluations, diagnose underlying issues, and recommend additional interventions if necessary. 

When Should You See a Hearing Instrument Specialist?

If you need to schedule a hearing aid fitting or want help with programming or adjusting your hearing aids, a hearing instrument specialist can help. Remember, they do not diagnose hearing loss or disorders of the ear or auditory system. For a comprehensive hearing evaluation, you'll need to meet with an audiologist.

Nevertheless, a hearing instrument specialist can play a vital role in your hearing health journey by educating you on the latest hearing technology, ensuring your hearing aids are fitted properly, and keeping you connected with the world around you.  

How Can I Find a Hearing Specialist?

Amplifon offers access to 6,000 in-network clinic locations, making it convenient to find a hearing instrument specialist or an audiologist near you. Our extensive network means that whether you're at home or traveling, you can easily locate a professional who can provide personalized care to address your hearing needs.

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