How do I prepare for the exam (study materials)?

The NBC-HIS exam is an experienced-based exam. The exam is based upon what you do in your everyday practice of testing, fitting and dispensing hearing instruments.

NBC-HIS provides a Self-Study Guide and Candidate Handbook to assist you in understanding how the exam is composed and identify the areas where you might want to focus your preparation.

NBC-HIS is not affiliated with and does not endorse or recommend any exam preparation programs.

How much does the exam cost?

US/Canada Fee:
Exam Fee: $225.00

International Fee:
Exam Fee: $250.00

Do I have to be an International Hearing Society (IHS) member to become Board Certified?

No, but many board certificants find membership in the International Hearing Society valuable. Visit their website for more information.

Where are the exam locations and the dates the exam is given?

The exam locations are pre-approved computer testing sites. Contact NBC-HIS for a location near you or click on the website link to access a list of locations. Click here for a list.
PLEASE NOTE: exam locations are subject to change. Exam dates vary by exam location and availability, but most exam sites are open Monday thru Friday and the exam is offered all day from about 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

What do I send with the application?

  • A photocopy of your current state/provincial/jurisdictional dispensing license (where applicable). Please make sure the expiration date on your dispensing license is after the date you plan to take the exam.
  • A letter on company letterhead from your employer or the individual that supervised your training to attest to your two-years of full-time dispensing experience. If you are self-employed, send a copy of your articles of incorporation, Business Registration or a tax return that is at least two (2) years old.

How do I request an application for special accommodations?

NBC is committed to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) and the Accessible Canada Act (ACA).  To request accommodations, a candidate should complete the application and under the Declaration list any special requirements.  Additionally, candidates may contact NBC at to obtain a “Candidate Accommodation Request Form” or click here to download.  A candidate must submit the complete request form along with the required supporting documentation prior to scheduling an examination appointment.

When will I receive my test results?

An examination score result will be sent immediately to the exam candidate’s email  upon submitting the completed exam. The score result will indicate either a Pass or Fail status.

Actual percentage points earned on the exam will not be disclosed for candidates who pass the exam. Candidates who fail the exam will be provided actual percentages for each of the five (5) areas of competency, which can be used in combination with the competencies information provided in the Self-Study Guide and Candidate Handbook to understand areas where you will want to focus additional study.

What if I do not pass the exam?

If you are not successful in passing this exam, you may retake the NCE at any designated testing facility after a 30-day (30) waiting period by submitting payment of the examination fee.  Contact the NBC-HIS office to discuss scheduling another exam date.

If you fail the exam a second or subsequent times you must wait six (6) months before taking the exam again.

If you do not retake and pass exam within twenty four (24) months of your initial application date, your application will expire and you must submit a new application for approval. You will be required to pay the examination fee.

The new application must be accompanied with the appropriate fees and a current copy of your state/provincial license or registration. This license / registration requirement will depend on the laws and regulations currently in effect in the applicant’s state or province.

What percentage did I get right?

The Exam Score Results will list either a Pass or Fail status. Actual percentages for candidates who pass the exam will not be disclosed. Candidates who fail the exam will be provided actual percentages for each of the five (5) areas of competency.

What is the pass percentage?

The National Competency Exam uses a modified Angoff methodology to establish a criterion referenced passing standard. This passing standard takes into consideration the difficulty of the individual items on the test form. When creating new test forms for the National Competency Exam, the passing standard remains consistent while the actual passing score may be adjusted up or down depending on the difficulty of the new test forms being created. This allows results between candidates on different test forms to be equivalent and fair to each individual.

What is the process for appealing test scores?

An exam appeal will only be considered if there was a problem at the exam center that caused a problem in taking the exam. There will be no appeals for a rescore of exam since the chance of a scoring mistake is virtually nonexistent. Requests for exam appeals must be submitted in writing by registered mail within sixty-days of the exam date and must be accompanied by a payment of $75.00. A candidate may appeal an exam score for the following reasons:
Excessive noise or confusion during the examination which inhibited concentration.
Exam room conditions (lighting, temperature, etc.).
Faulty computer operation.
If the review results verify that there was a problem, the $75 fee will be returned to the exam candidate.

How can I appeal the eligibility requirements if I am told that I don't meet them?

Eligibility Appeals Process:
If a candidate has been denied the opportunity to take the NCE, and they feel they have met the requirement above, they may appeal to the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences (NBC-HIS) Executive Director by writing a letter indicating the reason(s) they should not be denied. In the event a candidate is not satisfied with the decision of the Executive Director, they may appeal, in writing, to the Executive Council for further consideration. The appeal must be submitted to NBC-HIS within thirty (30) days of denial.

What are the most current certification statistics?

In 2022, 161 candidates completed the NCE with 80.4% passing the exam. As of Dec. 31, 2022, there were 2,426 total certificants.

I have more continuing education credits than are listed in my CE Review Box on my statement. I have to obtain 10 continuing education credits every year for my state/province.

A CE Review is printed on your annual statement and is available in the Certificant Center. Dates printed in the boxes from far right to left reflect the three (3) year recertification period in which you must obtain the required 24 continuing education credits. Make sure the credits you earned were not obtained before you were board certified. Any credits obtained prior to the dates in the far right box were applied to a previous three-year period.

How many continuing education credits do I have to obtain each year?

Every three-years from the time you became board certified, you are required to obtain 24 continuing education credits to recertify your BC-HIS credentials. You can obtain all 24 in one-year or any combination that adds up to 24 during your three-year period.

You can track the CEs you’ve completed by logging into our Certificant Center.

PLEASE NOTE: If you obtain more than the required 24 credits for recertification, the additional credits cannot be applied to your next three-year recertification period.

How many online courses can I take? Is there a limit?

All 24 CEs may be obtained by attending in-person or online educational programs, workshops and seminars. There is no limit for online CEs.

When are my fees due?

The annual statement is usually mailed in mid-May each year. On the top and bottom portion of the statement is a payment deadline date. Dues received after the due date will be charged a $100 late fee.

I did not receive my annual wallet card and wall certificate sticker after paying my annual fees.

The reasons a board certificant may not receive an annual wallet card and wall certificate sticker are as follows:

  • You did not obtain the required 24 credits to recertify
  • You did not sign and return the recertification paragraph on your statement
  • You did not provide a photocopy of your current dispensing license(s) or certification of registration
  • NBC-HIS does not have a current, valid address on file.  All address, phone and email changes must be reported to the NBC-HIS office

Where can I find a listing of upcoming continuing education opportunities?

  • International Hearing Society website (
  • List of upcoming state/provincial conference dates
  • The Hearing Professional magazine (mailed to all IHS members)
  • IHS continuing education articles & quizzes are printed 4 times a year in IHS’ quarterly magazine and are available to download on the IHS website
  • List of some hearing instrument manufacturers sponsored seminars
  • List of hearing instrument manufacturers sponsoring seminars
  • List of upcoming state/provincial conference dates
  • Audiology Online (

PLEASE NOTE: To receive an IHS certificate for Audiology Online continuing education credits and have them posted to your file, you must print the transcript from Audiology Online and mail it to the address below, or you can fax the transcript.

  • Select courses approved by IHS.

How were the NCE eligibility requirements determined?

Those who meet a minimum of two full years of dispensing experience within the last five years and have a current state/provincial dispensing license or certificate of registration (where applicable) and pass the certification examination will achieve the Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences (BC-HIS) credential. The NBC-HIS certification program differs from existing certificate and degree-granting hearing healthcare programs because it underscores your dispensing experience and assesses your advanced competencies as a hearing healthcare professional.



Eligibility Rationale

The NBC-HIS Exam Committee considered the following data and information when determining program eligibility criteria:

  • National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs.
  • Data obtained through NBC-HIS’s (2017) Role Delineation Study of the hearing instrument practitioners. Click here for a summary of the study.
  • A Professional Practice Profile for Hearing Health Professionals specific to the training and day to-day activities of those professionals licensed in hearing aid dispensing.

The expertise needed to be successful in this profession is not derived solely from textbooks or classroom study. The successful hearing healthcare professional also relies upon skills that have been developed through years of actual “hands-on” experience. The training and commitment needed to successfully develop these skills has gained the hearing healthcare professional one of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings within the health care industry. (MarketTrak VIII: Twenty-five year trends in the Hearing Health Market)

The 2012 and 2017 Role Delineation Study was integral in conceptualizing the roles of hearing aid dispensing professionals and determining the most appropriate guidelines for eligibility.

Of the 2460 individuals which included current certificants and other stakeholders,  total of 390 respondents completed the survey in its entirety, which met the minimum statistical sampling required and addressed the responsibilities of hearing healthcare professionals.


The 2012 Role Delineation Study shows that 32.8% had some college without a degree and 23.3% of respondents hold a Bachelor’s degree in another field. The NBC-HIS established professional experience and licensure as the minimum requirements to qualify for the NBC-HIS program.

Education/Training Level Number Percent
High school diploma or equivalent 38 9.7
Some college without degree 128 32.8
Associate’s degree 36 9.2
Two-year hearing health sciences program 37 9.5
Bachelor’s degree in hearing related program (e.g., speech pathology and audiology) 19 4.9
Bachelor’s degree in other field 91 23.3
Master’s degree in audiology 2 0.5
Master’s degree in other field 21 5.4
Ph.D. degree in audiology 1 0.3
Au.D. degree 5 1.3
M.D. or D.O. degree 6 1.5
Doctorate degree in other field 6 1.5
Other 38 9.7
Total 390 100.0
Note: The “Other” highest education/training levels reported include Au.D. in progress (4th year), both MS in other field AND 2 year HHS program, Doctoral Studies in Music, post graduate diploma in Communicative Disorders, some grad work in other field, and US Navy ENT Technician School.




The vast majority of respondents reported holding a license as a fitter/dispenser/practitioner (99.2%).  Table 7 displays the number and percentage of respondents who reported holding other licenses in good standing.

License(s) Held in Good Standing

License Number Percent
Fitter/Dispenser/Practitioner 387 99.2
Audiology 8 2.1
MD/OD 1 0.3
None of the Above 0 0
Other 20 5.1
Note: The “Other” license(s) reported include ACA, audioprosthologist, BC-HIS, Cerumen Management and Cochlear Implant, hearing aid dealer, MA-HIS, MCAP, and State business license.






The majority of respondents reported working full-time (91.8%).  Table 15 displays the number and percentage of respondents in each employment status category.

Current Employment Status

Current Employment Status Number Percent
Full-time 358 91.8
Part-time 20 5.1
Retired, but working part-time 7 1.8
Retired 0 0
Unemployed 3 0.8
Other 2 0.5
Total 390 100.0
Note: The “Other” employment statuses reported include waiting to open a private practice and maternity leave.

The majority of respondents reported that their role was best described as a hearing instrument practitioner (94.1%).  Table 16 displays the number and percentage of respondents in each role of the hearing instrument sciences field.


Hearing Instrument Sciences Job Role

Job Role Number Percent
Hearing instrument practitioner 367 94.1
Audiologist 7 1.8
Manager retail 59 15.1
Manufacturer 7 1.8
Owner 131 33.6
Other (please specify) 11 2.8
Note: The “Other” job roles reported include AUD assistant, audioprosthologist, coach, consultant, director of professional development, HIS, owner/operator of a small business, OHC, repairs, research/education, and trainer.


One hundred eighty-one respondents (46.4%) reported that they supervised or managed other hearing health professionals (e.g., dispensers).  These 181 respondents were then asked how many hours per week that they spent performing direct patient services.  Supervisors or managers reporting providing direct patient services for an average of 32 hours per week (median=35 hours per week; mode=40 hours per week).  Figure 3 displays the number of hours per week that supervisors or managers reported providing direct patient services.

Hours Per Week That Supervisors/Managers Spent Providing Direct Patient Services 


Therefore it was established by the NBC-HIS that a minimally-qualified candidate must have a current State/Provincial dispensing license or certificate of registration, and  meet a minimum of two (2) years of full-time dispensing experience within the last five (5) years, or a diploma from one of the following programs to be eligible to take the exam: Grant MacEwan Hearing Aid Practitioner Program, Douglas College, Bates Technical College Hearing Instrument Sciences, Burlington County College Hearing Instrument Sciences, George Brown Hearing Instrument Sciences, Conestoga College Hearing Instrument Sciences, Ozarks Technical Community College Hearing Instrument Sciences, or Spokane Falls Community College Hearing Instrument Sciences.  The majority of respondents reported working full-time (91.8%). Additionally, supervisors or managers reporting providing direct patient services for an average of 32 hours per week.

This combination of licensure (where applicable) and experience in the hearing instrument dispensing was deemed critical for evidence of competent job performance.



How was the NCE test blueprint determined?

The current test blueprint was based on the Job Task Analysis Study conducted in 2017. For a summary of the study, click here.

The NBC-HIS is an independent, non-profit, credentialing organization, established to promote continuing competency assurance of hearing healthcare professionals and to provide a standard of excellence in hearing healthcare for the consumer.

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