Careers in Speech Therapy

Speech-language pathology – also called speech therapy – is a healthcare career in which trained professionals diagnose and treat speech and physical communication problems in patients of all ages.

It is also one of a number of health professions that has had increased demand over the past few years, and is expected to continue increasing through the year 2020.

There are many speech therapy programs available where students can gain the necessary education and training to earn a speech therapy degree, qualifying them for a job as a speech pathologist.

Speech therapy also offers a very desirable salary, and is a promising career choice for anyone desiring a healthcare job where they can interact closely with their patients in a therapeutic and educational manner.

What Do Speech Therapists Do?

Verbal communication is one of the most important means of communication between people so that they understand each other.

When an individual has difficulty with their speech and/or swallowing, or in understanding others because of a developmental delay, an injury to the brain, a stroke, a hearing disorder, having a cleft palate or other reasons, they can frequently be helped by speech-language pathologists. Speech therapists also help people who stutter, have problems vocalizing, and who fail to speak due to emotional issues.

The typical job description includes assessment and diagnosis of speech and swallowing problems in patients, coming up with appropriate treatment methods, and then using those methods to teach patients how to speak easier despite their current limitations or conditions.

It is a detail-oriented job requiring high levels of patience, willingness to work at a patient’s individual speed and the ability to work as both a teacher and a therapist for individuals and their families.

They work in a variety of settings, and with many different medical professionals including physicians, psychologists, social workers, school teachers, special education personnel, parents and others to provide necessary treatment to those affected by some kind of speech impediment, and increase ability to communicate.

How to Become A Speech Therapist

Those interested in a career in speech-language pathology will need to make a significant academic commitment, since degrees are awarded at the Master’s level of education.

Planning should start before that however, and students who plan on entering a program are recommended to take a broad selection of undergraduate courses so they are well-rounded.

These should include courses in math, English and language arts, science, social science, health, humanities and others. Students should maintain at least a B average throughout their undergraduate academic career in order to have the best chance at acceptance into the most desirable speech therapy schools.

Also, though it is not possible to earn a degree online, there are some online options in fulfilling all necessary course requirements.

Specialized And Technical Courses

Acceptance into one of the almost 300 programs can be competitive, and will require students to have maintained their B average, as well as having earned their Bachelor’s degree with a wide array of courses that will be helpful to them in gaining their education in speech-language pathology.

Graduate schooling will focus on the more specialized and technical courses necessary to have a successful career. Students are usually also required to complete clinical experience segments where they will learn hands-on, from other professionals working in the field.

Once students have successfully completed their education and earned their Master’s degree in speech-language pathology, they are able to apply for licensure in their state or region.

Certification is voluntary, and offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), but is highly recommended so that individuals have the most opportunity for career advancement. Additionally, most employers today look for certification, making certified graduates more preferable over those who are not.

Besides the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), the ASHA also offers a Clinical Specialty Recognition program for professionals who continue their educational and career advancement and wish to specialize in one area of speech therapy, such as fluency disorders, swallowing disorders and child language.

Speech Therapy Salary

Currently, the median salary is quite favorable at approximately $70,000 annually according to 2011 salary survey data provided by the ASHA, within a range of $58,000 up to $90,000 annually depending on type of facility.

Clinical service providers and those working for outpatient practices had a median salary of about $65,000 annually. Specialists and practice administrators earned at the higher end of the range.

A career in speech-language therapy can be a challenging one, requiring great listening and communication skills, as well as great patience.

The rewards are many, however, with a very competitive salary and much personal satisfaction in helping people with one of the most important skills that we have as people, that being the ability to communicate and understand each other.