If helping people with communication disorders and problems related to speech, sounds like an exciting and rewarding opportunity, than consider a career in Speech Language Pathology. There are many people, young and old, who experience cognitive communication problems related to attention, memory, problem solving, and difficulties swallowing. These problems stem from a number of places, such as stroke, brain injuries and deterioration, developmental delays and disorders, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, voice pathology, mental retardation, hearing loss, and emotional problems. The development of these problems may have occurred at birth, or developed over time.
A favorable job outlook and competitive salary makes a career in Speech Language Pathology an excellent choice in today’s economy. 8-9 years of schooling, clinical experience, and a license from the state is needed before a speech pathologist may begin their career. With many jobs available in education services, 48% of speech therapists work in schools with students. Other speech pathologists are employed in healthcare and social assistance facilities, including nursing homes, home healthcare services, outpatient care centers, and in the offices of healthcare practitioners. Most speech therapists work full-time, however 20% of speech pathologists work only part-time. Some work directly with patients, while others develop equipment and techniques for diagnosis and treatment.
Speech Language Pathologists earn a favorable salary. Annual salaries range between $50,330 and $79,620. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent earned an annual salary of $41,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,220.*
Those working in nursing care facilities are the highest earners, with an annual salary of $79,120. Home healthcare services came in second, followed by medical and surgical hospitals, with annual salaries of $77,030 and $68,430. Next are speech therapists working in the offices of other healthcare practitioners, with an annual salary of $67,910. Surprisingly, those working in elementary and secondary schools earn the lowest amount, with an annual salary of $58,140. However, speech pathologists must enjoy working in schools because 48% are employed in educational institutions.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Speech Language Pathologists help patients with a variety of communication problems related to speech, language, cognitive communication, voice, swallowing, and fluency. Using specialized instruments, standardized tests, and qualitative and quantitative assessment methods, speech therapists diagnose, analyze, help prevent, and treat speech disorders. They help people with pronunciation, rhythm, fluency problems, and stuttering. They also help with voice disorders related to inappropriate pitch and harsh voice. Some people seek out speech therapists to assist with modifying accents and improving communication skills. Speech pathologists are known for their superb attention to detail, being able to detect slight variations between pronunciation and tone.
The methods that speech pathologists use are specific to each, individual patient’s needs. In some cases they teach patients to make sounds and help them strengthen muscles in the throat to prevent choking when swallowing. Speech pathologists can rest easy at night knowing that they are helping individuals recover the communication skills needed to lead happy and fulfilling lives. In addition to counseling patients, speech therapists also counsel families so they understand how to deal with the stresses and misunderstandings that come with communication disorders.
The job outlook for Speech Language Pathologists looks very favorable, with job opportunities growing faster than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth of 19% between 2008 and 2018. As the baby boom generation continues to age, the risk of neurological disorders continues to increase. Early diagnosis in children as well as increased awareness makes the demand for speech pathologists much greater today.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Speech Language Pathologists are required to earn a Master’s degree from an accredited institution. Students should make sure that the institution they are attending is accredited by the Speech-Language-Hearing Association. While in school, students will take classes that focus on anatomy, physiology, principles of acoustics, and the psychology of communication, in addition to other courses. Learning a second language can also be helpful, as job opportunities increase for those that are bi-lingual.
During their graduate studies, many students will learn the basics of the practice in supervised clinics. Students generally complete between 300 and 375 hours of clinical practice. During their post-graduate studies, many students will also complete 9 months of clinical work experience.
After receiving a Master’s degree and completing their clinical experience, Speech Language Pathologists must obtain a license before they begin to work. They must also pass the national speech-language pathology exam offered through Praxis. Licensing requirements are state specific, so it is important for speech therapists to examine the requirements of the state in which they choose to work. In some states, when it comes time to renew their license, speech pathologists may be required to complete continuing education courses, to stay up to date with the latest in speech pathology practices.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is the main professional association that speech pathologists should be a part of. Through this professional association, speech therapists may earn their Certificate of Clinical Competence, which is a requirement to be able to practice in many states. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a vital source of information for speech pathologists.
Most popular careers in Health:
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Billing and Coding
- Medical Transcriptionist
- Pharmacy Technician
- Health Administration
- Medical Sonographer
- Dental Assistant
Get Your Degree!
Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.
Powered by Campus Explorer