Working as an Audiologist

When we say there is a wide variety of jobs that our courses can lead in to, we really mean it. Peter Mulas graduated from our Audio Engineering and Sound Production course in 2004 and has since being working as an Audiologist, improving the audio for hearing aids. 

We caught up with him to find out how he got in to it, and find out his advice for students. 

(That's him on the right, with Triple J's Tom Tilly on the left)

Peter! Tell us about your time since graduating from JMC Academy?

Since graduating JMC in 2004 I've spent most of my time furthering study in fields of audio design, acoustics and audiology. I was lucky enough to score a job working at JMC in the audio facilities department from 2004 to 2010, which allowed me to develop skills in audio engineering, studio design, teaching and management, and during that time I completed a Masters in Design Science (Audio Design) at University of Sydney and a Master of Clinical Audiology at Macquarie University.

Since departing my position at JMC Academy, I worked at Australian Hearing as an audiologist. Australian Hearing's main position in the hearing industry is to provide subsidised hearing services to children and young adults up to an age of 26 and anyone else on a pension, which tends to be people over the age of 60. My day to day routine typically involved seeing 10 clients for hearing assessments, hearing aid fittings and adjustments or counseling to help a client improve their hearing ability and awareness.  

I've more recently transitioned to a job working for Phonak, which is a Swiss hearing aid manufacturer which offers the best range and quality of hearing solutions in the market. My current role is in Business and Audiology Support, so I am now developing business relationships between Phonak and independent clinics, as well as providing additional training or development on Phonak's product portfolio, as well as providing clinical support for more complex situations or clients. 

What made you want to get into audiology?

I had a friend completing the Masters in Clinical Audiology course and she needed someone to help her practice hearing test procedures. She invited me over to Macquarie University and I was fascinated at the various tests that were available and how it wasn't just the "press the button when you hear the noise" test I was expecting. I also really liked the idea of using my knowledge of audio and acoustics for the good of other people's health and wellbeing, and I inquired about signing up for the course the very next day.

My early interest in audio stemmed from wanting to write and record my own music as a teenager. A friend gave me his copy of Cubase (in the days where you had to have a soundcard installed in order for it to work) and this led to me doing a TAFE course whilst completing my HSC in MIDI programming at Nirimba TAFE. Soon after I was producing and recording bands in high school, before I actually knew what an audio engineer or producer actually was! Completing further study at JMC seemed logical after my Career's adviser recommended them for audio engineering and music performance. I actually auditioned for the music course however after hearing my story the Head of Music (Kemo Bunguric) suggested I'd get a lot more out of the Audio Engineering course.  

At what point did you decide/know you wanted to make audio your career?

Audio engineering will always be a passion for me even though I've strayed from the conventional trajectory for an Audio Engineer into the field of Audiology. To me there is nothing more artistically satisfying than to have your thoughts and ideas come to life in the form of a finished recording or mix, and it was that feeling that led me to always want to pursue it as a full time occupation.  

 What is one of your favourite things about doing audiology?

The best part of audiology is being able to impact change for the better in someone's life. Having a hearing impairment is extremely isolating and can greatly limit a person's ability to function on a daily basis, and providing them a pathway to improve their own situation is very rewarding. 

The other part of audiology that I really enjoy is the technology component. Hearing aid engineers manage to cram all of the components of a recording studio - power supply, directional microphone arrays, analogue to digital converters, digital signal processing and speakers into an extremely small unit that people often demand to be invisible. The technology is also rapidly utilising various forms of Wireless technology and this has evolved to a point where hearing aids all utilise Bluetooth technology to wirelessly stream audio signals from all sorts of devices directly to the hearing aid, as well as app based remote control function. This results in an continuously evolving industry where technology is adopted to provide hearing aid users greater connectivity and access to the sounds around them.

What did you learn that you weren’t aware of before working in the industry?

Audiology is more about working with people than it is working with technology. I swiftly learnt that you need to adapt your style of personality to match the person you are working with - and in some sense working as a recording engineer helped me prepare for this. For example in some cases I remember having to be very cautious of a musician's confidence when issuing constructive criticism in order to get a better performance from them. The other element that was really vital to being a good audiologist was to be able to be a good teacher, as I was continually teaching my clients and their families about hearing loss, how to use hearing aids and how to improve their communication ability. Once again my tenure as a trainer at JMC prepared me well for this aspect of my job as audiologist, and now as an audiologist working for a hearing aid manufacturer where the focus has shifted from teaching clients to training audiologists.

What advice would you give to current students currently studying Audio and wanting to get into audiology?

Audiology has become a lot more competitive over the last five years, and this mainly has to do with the fact that all of the universities running Audiology degrees have increased their class sizes. As a Masters degree the pressure and difficulty definitely increases, and you really need to take a lot more responsibility for your own learning, so organisation, focus and multitasking are definitely good things to develop whilst studying at JMC. The good news is that there have now been a number of graduates from JMC who have successfully completed the Masters degree in Audiology and are working as audiologists in the industry so it can be done!

The other aspect to consider is to make sure you're willing to work with people. Whilst it is an extremely rewarding career,  it requires a lot of face to face time with people, so make sure you're happy to spend a lot of time with people of different ages, cultures, backgrounds and needs.

To find out more about studying out Audio Engineering and Sound Production course, click here. 

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