Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, assess and treat individuals with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. They may work with children with speech or developmental problems (such as stuttering or delayed language development), victims of stroke, the elderly, and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, speech-language pathologists earned an average salary of $76,900 and an average wage of $36.97. The future job prospects also look promising, as the field is projected to grow 21% between years 2014-2024.
In this article and video, you’ll learn about the job duties, education requirements, and salary statistics for a speech-language pathologist.
What does a speech-language pathologist do on a daily basis? What are their job duties? Speech-language pathologists typically do the following tasks:
-They will evaluate patients’ levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty. Patients who have suffered from strokes or other debilitating medical problems or malformations often struggle to swallow food or pronounce words. Speech-language pathologists help those individuals learn to use their muscles. -They also correct improper speech patterns.
-They identify treatment options for patients.
-They create and carry out an individualized treatment plan that addresses patients’ specific functional needs.
-They teach patients how to make sounds and improve their voices. For example, some children struggle with communication disorders, stutters, etc. Speech-language pathologists assist with communication disorders.
-They advise patients’ families on how to assist with diet, swallowing, and speech development exercises.
-They maintain patient records and similar administrative tasks. -They will track a patient’s progress as they continue treatments and speech exercises.
Education Requirements for Speech-Language Pathologists
What are the education requirements to become a speech-language pathologist? Here are some steps you’ll have to take:
-You must get a bachelor’s degree first. Some universities have undergraduate degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders. That’s the best option. If not, you may want to major in something like English, Speech, or Communications. However, you can often enter a master’s degree program with an unrelated degree (but you may have to take a few extra prerequisite courses).
-You must get a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from an accredited university. This will include both classroom training and clinical hours and skills exams.
-Complete a 36-week clinical fellowship.
-Pass all skills exams, as well as the State Board’s exam. Some states will require certification or additional requirements. See your state for specifics.
-Maintain continuing education requirements.
-Visit ASHA.org for more specific information on Speech-Language Pathology requirements, certifications, and testing.
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