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.

If you have completed the Distance Learning Program from the International Hearing Society (IHS), those books can be used as resources. However, those books are geared for individuals with no prior dispensing experience or individuals that may be entering into the hearing healthcare field.

There are sample questions in the NBC-HIS Study Guide. These sample questions will not appear on the exam and are intended for informational purposes only. The Competency Model included in the study guide lists the areas covered in the exam. The model may be used as a reference in preparing for the exam.

If you would like additional materials, there is a recommended reading list on the website.

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 we highly recommend IHS membership.
To become an IHS member, contact the IHS office at 734.522.7200 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, or visit their website

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 Exam and Exam Sites 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. Contact NBC-HIS for exam dates at a location near you.

What do I send with the application?

  • A photocopy of your current state/provincial 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”).  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.

Do I need a letter on company letterhead from the individual that supervised my training to attest to my two-years of full-time dispensing experience, if I have a Hearing Instrument Specialist diploma from ___________?

You do not need to provide a letter, if you can provide a copy of your Diploma / Certificate from one of the following Colleges or University:

Bates Technical College
Hearing Instrument Technology, Tacoma, Washington

Burlington County College
Hearing Instrument Sciences, Pemberton, New Jersey

Conestoga College
Hearing Instrument Specialist, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

George Brown
Hearing Instrument Specialist, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Grant MacEwan University
Hearing Aid Practitioner, Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Ozarks Technical Community College
Hearing Instrument Sciences, Springfield, Missouri

Spokane Falls Community College
Hearing Instrument Specialist, Spokane, Washington

What does the examination consist of?

The computer-based exam is based on practical knowledge and decision-making capabilities. It is an experience-based assessment comprised of 130 questions reviewing the daily skills needed to be a successful Hearing Health Professional. The exam is designed to test competency in these important areas of hearing instrument sciences:

  • Assess patient presenting problem and needs
  • Test and analyze patient hearing
  • Prescribe and analyze instruments
  • Fit, adjust, program and service hearing instruments and equipment
  • Counseling, rehabilitation and professional practice

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.

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 time 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 does not use the typical passing score for the exam. A rigorous process is used to determine the final score in accordance with best practices in the testing industry. Some of the questions are more difficult than others, and these differences are taken into consideration when tabulating the final scoring. For this reason, the formulated passing score is not published, and it would be misleading if it were.

Appealing test scores, what is the process?

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.

The continuing education credits do not show up on my statement.

Every effort is made to accurately reflect the continuing education credits you have earned. If you obtained any  credits  from January 1 of the current year until the annual statements are mailed, they MAY NOT appear on your statement. The International Hearing Society receives the rosters from the providers two to six-months after you attend a seminar and posts them to your file as quickly as possible. The NBC-HIS office does not receive the rosters from the providers. Continuing education credits obtained prior to becoming board certified cannot be used for your recertification.
Continuing education credits MAY NOT be listed in the CE Review Box on your annual statement, due to the following factors:

  • The time of year you attended the seminar(s)
  • Omission of your name on a seminar roster(s)
  • When the seminars are posted to your file
  • The mailing date of NBC-HIS annual statements
  • If the box on the attendance sign-in sheet was not checked to receive credit by IHS
  • Continuing education credits are not approved by IHS (these must be submitted to the NBC-HIS office and are reviewed and approved on an individual basis by the NBC-HIS Executive Director)

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. 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.
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 paid my fees through CHIPS (Canadian Hearing Instrument Practitioners Society).

CHIPS dues and NBC-HIS annual dues are billed separately.

I received a "FINAL NOTICE" in the mail.

If payment is not received by June 30th NBC-HIS sends a Final Notice.  A $100 late fee will be assessed and added to your balance due.

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.

What are the most current certification statistics?

The following exam statistics on the NCE are current through December 31, 2017.  237 initial certification candidates tested in 2017 and the percentage of certification candidates passing in this reporting year was 70.5%.  There were 2855 Boards Certificants. Of these, 2657 registered their certificates.

How were the NCE eligibility requirements determined?

Those who meet a minimum of two years 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 (2012) Role Delineation Study of the hearing instrument practitioners.
  • 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 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, 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.



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

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