CAOHC Certification: Your Guide to Occupational Hearing Conservationist Credentials

Occupational hearing conservation is a significant aspect of workplace health and safety, focusing on the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss among workers. To ensure effective management of hearing conservation programs, professionals seek CAOHC certification. The Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) sets the standards for education, experience, and the ethical practices required to become a certified Occupational Hearing Conservationist (OHC).


CAOHC certification offers a comprehensive understanding of key areas such as audiometric testing, noise analysis and control, and hearing conservation practices. The certification process involves successful completion of a standardized training program and passing a certification examination. Moreover, certified individuals commit to staying current with advancements in the field through continuing education, thereby fostering best practices in occupational hearing conservation and legal and regulatory compliance.

Key Takeaways

  • CAOHC certification is central to the professional practice of occupational hearing conservation.
  • Training and examination are necessary steps to earn and maintain certification.
  • Certification ensures adherence to current hearing conservation standards and regulations.

Overview of CAOHC Certification


The Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) offers certification for professionals seeking to demonstrate their expertise in the field of hearing conservation. Specifically, CAOHC certification is designed for individuals aiming to become certified Occupational Hearing Conservationists (OHCs).

Certification Benefits

CAOHC certification signifies a professional’s commitment to maintaining the highest standard of hearing conservation. They are recognized as capable and knowledgeable in providing essential services such as hearing conservation program implementation and audiometric testing. Certified individuals are deemed as trusted resources by employers for managing workplace hearing conservation programs and are better prepared to address the challenges within the realm of occupational hearing. This certification is crucial in understanding modern methodologies and technologies in auditory protection and conservation.

Roles and Responsibilities

An individual who achieves OHC certification assumes specific roles and responsibilities critical to the success of hearing conservation programs. Key responsibilities include conducting hearing tests, educating about the proper use of hearing protection, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. They are also tasked with data management related to audiometric testing and following protocols for the appropriate referral of employees for further evaluation. The COHC training equips candidates with the most up-to-date information necessary for all potential settings in which an OHC may serve.

Certification Process


The Certification Process for the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) involves distinct steps for initial certification and recertification. Prospective candidates must navigate through these steps to register and successfully complete the necessary coursework to achieve COHC certification.

Initial Certification

For initial certification, candidates are required to complete a 20-hour CAOHC-approved course. These courses are designed to equip candidates with the fundamental knowledge and skills in occupational hearing conservation. They must also pass the examination that is administered at the end of the course to earn the Certified Occupational Hearing Conservationist (COHC) designation.


Recertification is mandatory to maintain the COHC credential and must be completed every five years. The recertification process includes attending a CAOHC-approved update course and again passing the required examination. Recertification courses are shorter, typically lasting 8 hours, focusing on updates and advancements in the field.

Course Registration

To register for either full certification courses or recertification courses, candidates must find a CAOHC-approved Course Director and schedule with them directly. The registration fees and course availability vary by location. Up-to-date course information and the registration process can be found on the CAOHC website.

Training Programs

The Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) offers specialized training programs that encompass a balance of online theoretical education and hands-on practical experience. These programs are designed to certify professionals in the practice of occupational hearing conservation.

Online Training

Online training provides the theoretical foundation for candidates, where they are introduced to key concepts in hearing conservation. The education provided covers topics from anatomy and physiology of hearing to hearing conservation program management. One can engage in CAOHC Initial Certification courses that require a 20-hour commitment or partake in Re-Certification courses, mandated every five years, lasting 8 hours.

Onsite Training

The onsite training sessions are immersive and conducted by a course director. These sessions are necessary for completing the certification process and are held in various locations. The practical aspect not only reinforces the online material but also affords candidates the opportunity to practice audiometric testing under guidance.


At the core of CAOHC’s program is the practicum, a hands-on segment which provides critical in-person training. This component is crucial for the hands-on mastery of skills required for audiometric testing. The practicum experience ensures that candidates are adept at employing these skills in a real-world setting, contributing to workplace safety and health.

Audiometric Testing

Audiometric testing is a critical component in assessing and managing hearing health in various environments, from clinical settings to occupational noise exposure. Precision equipment and standardized procedures are essential for reliable results.

The Audiometer and Test Environment

The audiometer is an instrument used to measure hearing sensitivity. It is crucial that the test environment is adequately soundproofed to prevent ambient noise from affecting the test outcomes. Test rooms should comply with standards set by organizations such as the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation to ensure minimal interference. Calibration of the audiometer should occur regularly to maintain accuracy.

Audiometric Techniques

Audiometric testing involves a series of procedures aimed at determining a person’s hearing thresholds. The techniques include pure-tone air conduction, bone conduction testing, and speech audiometry. The Virtual CAOHC-Approved Hearing Conservation Course emphasizes instruction in these methodologies to provide participants with the competence required to administer audiometric testing.

Audiogram Referral and Follow-up

Upon completion of audiometric tests, an audiogram is generated to document the results. Interpretation of an audiogram may indicate the need for a referral to an audiologist or otolaryngologist for further assessment. Follow-up actions, guided by regulatory standards such as by OSHA, are necessary when significant hearing changes are detected, ensuring the individual’s hearing health is monitored and that any hearing conservation efforts are properly implemented.

Noise Analysis and Control


Noise analysis and control are critical components of occupational hearing conservation programs. The effectiveness of such programs relies on a thorough understanding of noise analysis principles and the implementation of practical noise control solutions.

Principles of Noise Analysis

Principles of Noise Analysis involve systematic approaches to measuring and evaluating noise levels and their impact on hearing. Professionals use specialized instruments to measure noise exposure in work environments, which is essential for identifying areas where hearing conservation efforts are needed. These efforts are detailed in training provided by organizations such as the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation, which emphasizes the importance of accurate noise assessment to prevent hearing loss.

Key Metrics: It’s fundamental to monitor dB(A) levels—decibels corrected for the A-weighted scale to correspond to human hearing sensitivity—as they are the primary indicators of potentially harmful exposure.

Noise Control Solutions

Noise Control Solutions target the reduction of noise at the source, along the path to the receiver, or at the receiver itself. Engineering controls, such as retrofitting machinery with quieter components or introducing sound barriers, are often the most effective means of direct noise reduction. Administrative controls, including scheduling changes to limit exposure time, are also employed as part of a comprehensive noise control strategy. Training in Hearing Protection Device Fitting is essential as these are integral to protecting individuals when noise cannot be adequately controlled by other means.

Examples of Control Solutions:

  • Engineering Controls: Installing noise dampeners, using low-noise tools.
  • Administrative Controls: Worker rotation, scheduling maintenance during off hours.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Providing custom-fitted earplugs and earmuffs.

Hearing Conservation Practices


Effective hearing conservation practices play a pivotal role in preventing occupational hearing loss. These practices are composed of comprehensive programs, appropriate use of hearing protection devices, and continuous employee education coupled with motivational strategies.

Hearing Conservation Programs

Hearing conservation programs are designed to prevent hearing loss due to noise exposure in the workplace. They involve a systematic approach that includes noise level assessment, noise control, audiometric testing, and maintenance of records. For example, a noise assessment might identify areas where sound levels surpass the permissible exposure limit set by regulatory bodies, prompting action to reduce noise at its source or along its path.

Hearing Protection Device Fitting and Training

Proper fitting and training for hearing protection devices (HPDs) are essential aspects of hearing conservation. Employees exposed to high-level noise should receive comprehensive training on the correct use of various HPDs such as earplugs or earmuffs. This includes instructions on proper insertion, seal check, and maintenance to ensure maximum effectiveness. Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation provides a curriculum guide that includes the necessary procedures and recommendations for HPD fitting and training.

Employee Education and Motivation

Employee education and motivation are key to the success of hearing conservation programs. Engaging training sessions that explain the risks of noise exposure and the benefits of HPDs can motivate workers to participate actively in the program. Demonstrating the correct use of protection devices and providing personalized hearing conservation counseling can further encourage proper HPD use and ongoing commitment to hearing health.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

In addressing the CAOHC certification, one must consider its importance in aligning with federal and state regulations. CAOHC certification ensures professionals are well-informed in the legal complexities and recordability standards required for occupational hearing conservation.

Federal Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates strict standards to prevent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in the workplace. CAOHC certification ensures that professionals are knowledgeable about these federal regulations, including OSHA’s Noise Standard (29 CFR 1910.95), which requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA).

State Regulations

While federal regulations provide a baseline, state regulations may introduce additional requirements for hearing conservation. For instance, certain states might enforce stricter exposure limits or mandate more comprehensive training for Occupational Hearing Conservationists (OHCs). CAOHC-certified professionals are equipped to navigate and adhere to these varied state-specific regulations.

Record Keeping and Recordability

Accurate record keeping is essential for regulatory compliance and helps in identifying trends in occupational hearing loss. CAOHC-certified professionals are trained to maintain proper audiometric testing records, ensuring all data is accurately recorded and readily available for inspection. They are also knowledgeable about OSHA’s recordability criteria, understanding when a hearing loss event must be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log. This is instrumental in upholding the compliance standards for workplace safety and health.

Continuing Education and Resources


Professionals in the field of occupational hearing conservation can maintain and update their expertise through robust continuing education opportunities. These are designed to meet specific certification requirements, such as those from the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC), and provide essential contact hours for audiologists and other occupational health professionals.

Ongoing Professional Development

Audiologists and hearing conservationists often seek to expand their knowledge and stay current with advancements in their field. The CAOHC offers a range of educational programs, such as the CAOHC-Approved Hearing Conservation Course. This course provides a comprehensive update on hearing conservation practices and is eligible for Continuing Education Units (CEUs). All participants must complete an examination to receive their certification for a five-year period, indicating their commitment to professional development.

Council and Community Resources

The Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation plays a critical role in setting standards and certifying professionals in hearing conservation. It provides a variety of resources, such as course and exam dates, as well as location information to facilitate access to continuing education.

  • Resources for this community of professionals also include:
    • Educational materials
    • Best practice guidelines
    • Networking opportunities

These tools enable occupational health professionals to deliver the highest quality of care and stay informed about the latest industry changes. Regular contact with peers through this council’s offerings helps to foster a collaborative environment that supports ongoing professional development.

Certification Examination


The CAOHC certification examination is a pivotal step for professionals seeking to validate their expertise in occupational hearing conservation. The exam assesses a candidate’s understanding of relevant methodologies and adherence to high standards.

Exam Format

The CAOHC certification examination is a computer-based test designed to evaluate the knowledge of occupational hearing conservation principles. It’s conducted in a controlled environment, ensuring the integrity of the examination process. Candidates must answer a series of multiple-choice questions within the allotted time frame.

Preparation and Requirements

Candidates are required to undergo proper training and meet specific qualifications before sitting for the CAOHC certification examination. Thorough preparation is encouraged, utilizing resources such as the “Hearing Conservation Manual,” which can be found on the CAOHC website. As for the exam fee, specifics can be obtained directly from CAOHC, but it is an essential part of the application process and typically reflects industry standards for professional certifications.

Frequently Asked Questions


The CAOHC certification process can be intricate, with specifics varying based on state requirements and course offerings. This section aims to clarify common inquiries related to CAOHC certification.

What are the requirements to obtain CAOHC certification?

To become CAOHC certified, one must complete a Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) approved course and pass the associated examination. This certification is often a requirement for professionals conducting hearing conservation programs.

How much does it cost to get CAOHC certified?

The cost for CAOHC certification can vary depending on the course provider and location. Courses and examinations have different fees, and applicants should contact specific course directors for accurate pricing information.

What type of questions can be expected on the CAOHC certification exam?

The CAOHC certification exam includes questions on hearing conservation protocols, audiometric testing, and related OSHA regulations. Exam study resources such as flashcards are available to prepare for the variety of topics covered.

What are the available CAOHC certification courses?

CAOHC offers various certification courses across the United States. These courses provide the necessary training to conduct hearing conservation programs and audiometric evaluations in the workplace.

How can I verify someone’s CAOHC certification?

Verification of an individual’s CAOHC certification can be done through the CAOHC website or by contacting the CAOHC Executive Director’s office. One must provide the necessary details to obtain confirmation of an individual’s certified status.

What job roles often require CAOHC certification?

Job roles that often require CAOHC certification include audiologists, occupational health nurses, safety professionals, and other individuals responsible for implementing and managing hearing conservation programs in industrial settings.

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