By Joshua Huppert This article is a part of the September/October 2017, Volume 29, Volume 5, Audiology Today issue. A Toxic Debt-to-Income Ratio The fact that many students are now taking on upward of $100,000 in student loan debt to earn their doctoral degree in audiology (AuD) is no secret (Thompson, 2016). I, unfortunately, know this reality all too well, as I graduated in August 2017 with just shy of $250,000 in student loan debt—$180,000 of which was solely from my AuD. Based upon the amount of my accumulated student loan debt and the present interest rates associated with my loans, my monthly loan payments are projected to be between $1,300 and $1,500 per month, which, if I may point out, is equal to a mortgage on a relatively sizeable home. Truth be told, the financial burden of maintaining such an exorbitant amount of debt would seem far less daunting if the student return on investment (i.e., starting salary) were commensurate with the actual cost of the degree earned; this, sadly, is not currently the case with the AuD. Let’s Talk Numbers According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for an audiologist was estimated to be $79,290 in 2016, regardless of an individual’s experience in the field (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016); however, as disclosed in a similar study published by the American Academy of Audiology (the Academy), which conveniently accounts for total compensation across several demographic and institutional variables (e.g., years of experience, primary work setting, geographic region, etc.), the mean annual wage for an audiologist with an AuD and one to three years of experience was only estimated to be $69,845 in 2016 (Compensation and Benefits Report, 2016). I was shocked that in my own job search, I did not see salaries near these reported means. I did not receive a single offer, before or after negotiations, at or above the estimated salary proposed by the Academy report, even at highly reputable institutions. What’s more disappointing is that I know of students who were offered (and accepted) starting salaries as low as $48,000. Personally, I find these low salaries not only staggering, but insulting. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!