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Speech Language Pathologist

Speech language pathologists are therapists who treat people with language, speech, or voice disorders. They also specialize in swallowing disorders. They work in private or public facilities, such as public or private schools, hospitals, and convalescent homes. They help people who have trouble producing certain sounds, have swallowing difficulties, or want to modify their accents. A master’s degree is required to enter this field.

Education

speech pathologist aTo start you need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a communication sciences and disorders program. Coursework in behavioural science, linguistics, math, psychology, and anatomy are strongly recommended. Be sure to maintain a high GPA, as you will be facing strong competition for entry into graduate school. Also contact your top graduate school choices to learn their policy on the Graduate Records Examination. Some graduate schools require a minimum score on this test for admission. Indiana University (http://www.indiana.edu/~sphs/home/) and Florida State University (http://commdisorders.cci.fsu.edu/Academic-Programs-Admissions/Masters-Main-Campus/) offer both Masters Programs and Speech and Hearing Clinics. Make sure you check with your grad school advisor to determine the exact licensing requirements in your state. Typically nine months of postgraduate work, several hundred hours of clinical experience, and passing a national examination are required to obtain a license. If you want to work in a private practice or research in the field, a PhD is recommended. After you gain enough experience, you need to pass the Council for Clinical Certification exam to become a licensed speech pathologist.

Job Description

Speech language pathologists work with patients who have speech related disorders. On any given day a speech pathologist will do the following:

  • Use oral and written tests and special instruments to diagnose the extent of the impairment and to record and analyze language, speech, and any swallowing irregularities
  • Create a recovery plan tailored to each patient’s individual needs
  • Teach individuals with little or no speech capability to use sign language and automated devices to give them an alternative method of communication
  • Help people with little or no speech capability by teaching them to make sounds or improve their voices to communicate more effectively
  • Help people who have suffered loss of speech regain reliable communication skills

They work with people who cannot make clear speech sounds, people with speech fluency and rhythm problems (such as stuttering), people with harsh voices or other pitch problems, people who wish to modify their accents, and people who have problems producing language.

Pros & Cons

speech pathologist bBecoming a speech language pathologist provides a large amount of job flexibility. Speech pathologists can work in a variety of environments, including public schools, hospitals, and private practices. They also receive good benefits. Most therapists receive leave of absence options and insurance benefits from their employers. They usually work in comfortable environments. Most therapist offices are equipped with many different resources to help engage in the practice. They also have a diverse range of professional duties. They make with children or adults on a range of auditory, cognitive, and communication disorders. A downside to the profession is inadequate pay, however, especially when working in settings like public schools. Your salary may seem insufficient to compensate for the heavy job demands, and unlike teachers, you do not get summers off. The job can also create a large amount of stress, especially in public schools. As a speech language pathologist, you will constantly need to update your professional knowledge to stay up to date with the latest techniques and methods. You may also experience heavy workloads as the demand for the service continues to increase.