Local audiologists perform a variety of functions in maintaining the health and function of the human ear. Audiologists are concerned both with hearing and balance; the two major functions of the ear. Any local audiologist should be prepared to dispense hearing aid, ear plug and implant prescriptions. Some audiologists, however, perform research functions rather than having a medical practice. Today, local audiologists should have a doctoral degree from an accredited professional program or university. Board certification of audiologists is performed by the American Board of Audiology, while some audiologists may be certified in clinical competence by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. On average, audiologists made $32 dollars per hour and $65,000 dollars per year. There were about 12,000 audiologists employed in 2006. Job growth is estimated to grow 10 percent. Employment is expected to grow in educational services at elementary and secondary schools as well as for special education facilities. However, given the small nature of the audiology workforce, job prospects are only expected to increase if a large number of practicing local audiologists leave the field due to retirement. People with an audiology degree (Au.D.) should find a favorable job outlook. Local audiologists normally work in comfortable surroundings, but the occupation requires very close attention to detail and concentration. The occupation may be emotional due to family and patient interactions. Some audiologists work for hospitals and clinics, and others work for school systems.