How do I Become an Otologist?

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  • Written By: Rachel Burkot
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
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To become an otologist, at least 11 years of school beyond undergraduate education are required. Four years of medical school, five years of residency training and a two-year fellowship in neurotology is the general course of study to receive an ontology degree. Neurotologists and otologists work closely together. While otologists deal mainly with ear, nose and throat problems, neurotologists help patients with hearing, balance, nerve functions, infectious diseases, and head and neck anatomy.

Otologists are recommended to become a certified otolaryngologist first. This is a special doctor who is trained to perform general surgery in ear, nose and throat conditions. Also known as ENT physicians, otolaryngologists must complete a year of general surgery training and four years of specific otolaryngology training. After the residency training, the doctor must take both written and oral examinations to become certified on the American Board of Otolaryngology.

After a doctor is certified in otolaryngology, he or she must pick a specific field to enter, such as pediatric, allergy, sinus surgery, facial surgery, head or neck cancer surgery, larynology (voice and swallowing), otology or neurotology. Once the decision to become an otologist is made, one to three extra years of training for that specific field is typically the norm. This training includes substantial research, and doctors often become leaders and experts in their field because of this extensive study.


If a student wishes to become an otologist, he or she should have a solid background in anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics and neurology. Otologists should have a strong grasp of the skull base and nervous system. Additionally, it would be helpful if otology students succeed in communications and public relations courses because otologists generally work in a team with other doctors and surgeons. The ability to communicate successfully during procedures and surgeries is critical.

A student wishing to become an otologist should also be a strong analytical thinker because the doctor must make diagnoses on patients, including diagnoses of infectious diseases. Additionally, otologists analyze specific nerve functions in their treatment of head and neck problems and diseases of the cranial nerves. Therefore, preparation for an otology career requires solid thinking skills and the ability to make quick, sound judgments.

To become an otologist, a student should enjoy working with people and should be kind and compassionate. An otologist can care for both children and adults, or this type of doctor can choose pediatric or adult otology. Otology jobs are available in doctor’s offices, specialized otology facilities and hospitals.


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