Ozarks Technical College’s Hearing Instrument Science program breaks ground

Home » Ozarks Technical College’s Hearing Instrument Science program breaks ground

Dr. Lawrence Brethower will soon be putting his classroom on wheels and heading down the highway, a first for Ozarks Technical Community College. Brethower is director of the College’s Hearing Instrument Science program, just one of three programs like it in the country.

OTC_HIS_004Now, he has created a version of the traditional classroom program that will be offered inside a specialized, state-of-the-art mobile transport that resembles a recreational vehicle — shown here. Equipped with desks, instruments and other special equipment, Brethower will take the vehicle to community colleges around the state to train students in hearing instrument sciences.  (NEW: See this article)

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. “The population is aging and there is a growing demand for trained and licensed specialists in dealing with the instruments involved,” Brethower said. The program offers hands-on laboratory training in a wide variety of skills, as well as clinical internships with area specialists.

IMG_4535Developed with funds from Gov. Jay Nixon’s Training for Tomorrow grant, the program is now funded by MoHealthWINs. Both grants were designed to educate Missourians in high-tech fields and get them working in growing industries. The first group of students that started in 2010 will graduate in December; a majority of the class has already received job offers.

“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. Dr. Brethower said the program is designed for someone looking for a career change or looking to learn new skills. It’s a win for those in need of work and for those businesses needing a specialist. “We want to produce craftspeople who will meet the challenges of the hearing impaired,” Brethower said. “Taking this statewide, with more people out of work, folks can retool themselves and learn a special skill set.”

For more information, including a video about this story, visit www.otc.edu/profiles.  Find more about Ozarks Technical College’s new programs at http://www.otc.edu/mowins/mowins.php or by contacting Matt Scott at (417) 447-2622 or scottm@otc.edu.

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