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OTC to be home to new hearing aid program

Ozarks Technical Community College will be the first college in the state to offer a two-year degree in hearing instrument science this spring.

In 2013, Missouri will begin requiring a two-year associate’s degree for anyone who fits customers with a hearing aid.  Previously, the only training available for this career was on-the-job training, frequently on just one specific make of hearing aid.

“This program will result in vast improvements in the quality of hearing healthcare since our graduates will be well-versed in the theory and practice of hearing improvement,” said Stephen Bishop, Dean of Allied Health.

The Hearing Instrument Specialist program that OTC will offer will include hands-on laboratory training in a wide variety of skills, as well as clinical internships with area specialists.

The program is being developed with funds from Gov. Jay Nixon’s Training for Tomorrow program, a $12 million initiative to educate Missourians in high-tech fields and get them working in growing industries.  

Dr. Larry Brethower, the program’s director, is well known nationally and internationally for his work in advancing the field of hearing healthcare and is clinic director of the Springfield Hearing Center.

The program is intended to prepare graduates for immediate work, especially in southwest Missouri where there is a shortage of hearing instrument specialists due, in part, to the large demand from the area’s retiree population in and around the Branson area.

“A graduate can go to work for a company or be self-employed. Specialists can work their way up to a good living wage,” Brethower said, adding that self-employed specialists can make upwards of $80,000 a year.

Brethower said the program is designed for someone looking for a career change or is looking to learn new skills.

Said Bishop: “This program will be perfect for the person who wants a career that allows them to use technical skills and strong human relations skills in a way that makes a tremendous positive impact on the lives of others.”

Brethower said the program would initially admit 5-10 students in the spring but that number could double depending on demand.

“We want to produce craftspeople who will meet the challenges of the hearing impaired,” Brethower said.

Applications are being accepted for the first spring class. The deadline to apply is Nov. 20.  To receive an application packet, call the Allied Health office at 447-8954.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College. Contact him at





College Director of Communications

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Publications

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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