Audiologists are highly educated, health care professionals specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and balance disorders.  Audiologists earn masters and doctoral degrees in audiology, pass rigorous national certification examinations, and complete a one year fellowship or residency in audiology prior to obtaining their state licensure.  Their education includes a minimum of six years of college course work for the masters degree or eight years for a doctoral degree.  To earn their degree, audiologists study anatomy and physiology, neurology, communication methods, speech and language development and disorders, acoustics, electronics, amplification, clinical methods, disorders of hearing and balance, counseling methods, and a variety of other topics related to hearing and balance.  Audiologists are governed by their state licensure board, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), and Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA).  These professional audiology organizations have strict ethical standards and require audiologists to complete extensive continuing education every year. (In contrast, a certified hearing aid dealer or hearing aid sales person only needs to have a high school diploma or GED and complete a brief, basic training course about hearing aids.)  An audiologist's main priorities are  ensuring the health of their patients relative to hearing and balance and helping patients and their significant others maximize the effectiveness of their communication.