In direct response to the American Academy of Audiology‘s advocacy efforts to correctly categorize audiologists in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) manual, the SOC policy committee (SOCPC) has finalized revisions to the manual reflecting the Academy’s recommendation.

On January 21, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published a Federal Register notice detailing its final decisions for revising the SOC for 2010.

"Because of the extraordinary Academy leadership, beginning in 1995-1996 with then President Carol Flexer, PhD, as well as the incredible grassroots response by Academy members in support of this position, we
are now seeing this policy change finally realized," says M. Patrick Feeney, PhD, president of the
American Academy of Audiology, Reston, Va.

In the final 2010 SOC manual, audiologists will now be categorized as 29-1180 under the same major group, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations (29-0000), and minor group, Health Diagnosing and
Treating Practitioners (29-1000).

We now have our own broad occupation category Audiologist (18) separate from the Therapist category (12).

Review the summary of the proposed changes.

Audiologists were previously categorized as 29-1121 in the broad occupation—Therapists (12), under the major group, Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations (29-0000), and the minor group—Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners (29-1000). The last digit (1) designates audiologists specifically under Therapists.
Similarly, physical therapists, as Therapists, are categorized as 29-1123. The last digit (3) designates physical therapists.

In previous public comments, the Academy argued that audiologists should be listed separately in their own category under the SOC group classification "29-1000 Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners." Specifically, the Academy emphasized that audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat hearing and balance disorders and have functioned in this capacity since the advent of state licensure laws that have evolved over
the past 30 years.

In today’s health care environment, the audiologist is the individual who provides audiologic diagnosis regarding hearing and balance disorders. The audiologist provides appropriate treatment, and refers the patient, if indicated, for medical assessment. Therefore, it was the Academy’s position that the former coding was inaccurate based on the relationship that audiologists have with their patients and the health-care community.