The significant changes in the American Board of Audiology (ABA) certification process are generating a number of questions from current and prospective certificants. The ABA board felt that it might be beneficial to Academy members, who may have similar questions, to offer more information on the topic. 

Q: Why the changes in the name and the criteria for the certification?

A: In the 20 years since the ABA created the credential, it has become apparent that the process that we called “Board Certification” is not consistent with the process and criteria required by other professions offering similar honors. Typically, the general public assumes that becoming board certified requires rigorous credential verification and continuing education (CE) requirements, which ABA offers, as well as a requirement to pass a demanding examination that sets the credential holders apart from others, which ABA does not offer. ABA’s rigorous credential verification is widely recognized and may legitimately be identified as American Board of Audiology Certified, without the description “Board Certified,” which could imply more than is intended in this case. 

Only about 10 percent of the American Academy of Audiology members have chosen to hold the certification, a number that has remained relatively stable over time. The Academy and ABA boards felt that the cost may have been a disincentive to wider adoption. To improve access to the credential, they decided to change the renewal to an annual cycle and lower the fees. The certification fee for Academy members has been reduced by 50 percent; certification for both members and non-members now includes an annual billing and CE requirement cycle, which replaces the previous three-year cycle.

Q: I am ABA Board Certified. How will the changes affect me?

A: If you are in the middle of a three-year cycle, this current cycle will finish without any changes. If you are renewing or applying now, your renewal cycle will become an annual cycle with the new reduced fee structure. The ABA board is developing incentives to allow greater access to Tier 1 courses through broader offerings of Tier 1 CE courses. In addition, the use of the ABA “title” will change slightly, from Board Certified to ABA Certified (see the approved credential displays listed below). 

Q: Tier 1 offerings are limited. Will there be adequate offerings?

A: We are planning to continue the broad offerings at the Academy’s annual conference and to change the application criteria to make it simpler for sponsors and presenters to offer these courses while still maintaining the needed rigor.

Q: How should we display our credential on correspondence and business cards?

A: The approved credential displays are as follows: 

  • ABA Certified or ABAC
  • American Board of Audiology Certified
  • In a narrative: certified by the American Board of Audiology.

Q: I’m not in agreement with the changes and am concerned that they may devalue my Board Certification credential. What can I do?

A: The Academy and ABA boards debated this concern at length when considering the change. We made the decision to proceed with carefully thought-out changes that represent the honest and transparent representation of our credentials. You are free to offer your suggestions in writing to the boards for consideration.

Q: I’m ready to finish my training and my fourth year soon. When can I apply for ABA Certification?

A: There is now a provision for license-eligible status that will address your situation. Please see the ABA Handbook or the ABA website (www.boardofaudiology.org/board-certified-in-audiology/am-i-eligible-for-...) for more information.

Q: Are there plans to include an examination in the future to offer “true” board certification? 

A: The potential for offering an examination has been carefully considered and discussed. It will take a thorough investigation of the demand and the feasibility of an examination, as well as an ongoing discussion between the ABA and Academy boards, taking into consideration the significant time and cost required to develop a rigorous exam. This change in nomenclature is the first step toward revising the existing ABA certification to better align with the current requirements, with a focus on ensuring a comparable quality and rigor for a true Board certification.