The job of a speech pathologist or a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is to study, diagnose, and treat all sorts of communication disorders. This includes treating both children and adults who may experience difficulties in:
- stuttering and
- using their voice.
Some of these problems may be caused by developmental delays, learning disabilities, stroke, dementia, and other related brain injuries. As dull as this may all sound, the job of a speech pathologist (SLP) is quite an interesting one.
Why become a speech pathologist?
- Speech pathologists are people-centered. They engage with people from many cultural backgrounds and clients of all ages.
- They enjoy working in a variety of stimulating workplaces. Some of these include hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, private practices, and even corporations.
- SLP have the flexibility to be entrepreneurs and can run their private practice.
- A speech pathologist can work across the lifespan from children to adults.
- SLPs get to enjoy the perks of modern innovations in communication. Many also work through social media, tele or online health, to get their message across.
- The profession of an SLP is continuously evolving. Being one allows you to be on a lifelong journey and learn new things from time to time.
- The job of speech pathology is an ambitious and visionary profession. They get to use their creativity and imagination with every new client. In turn, finding new ways to devise their treatment plans.
- Lastly, you end up making a meaningful difference. The feeling of achievement you get once your client builds new communication skills, or has their first enjoyable meal without coughing and choking is something that you get to enjoy only as a speech pathologist.
Educational and Training Requirements for the job of a Speech Pathologist
To become a speech-language pathologist in America, you must get a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study, followed by a two-year-long master’s degree in speech-language pathology. Next, you will have to complete a 36 week long clinical fellowship year (CFY). After completing the CFY you an SLP receives a temporary state license.
Before starting a practice, speech pathologists must obtain a license. The licensing policies for a speech pathologist tend to vary from state to state, though. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) also offers the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). This is a voluntary certification, but some states require SLP to obtain them. In addition, according to ASHA, some states and school districts offer pay supplements to those having a CCC-SLP.
Apart from the educational and licensing requirement, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association also requires an aspiring speech pathologist to receive clinical training before setting up shop.
Duties and responsibilities of a speech pathologist
A speech pathologist for adults works in hospitals and nursing care facilities treating patients who might have affected their ability to speak caused by another illness like stroke or trauma. On the contrary, speech pathologists for children usually work for school districts to provide first-hand care to children in need of speech therapy. A few of the duties and responsibilities handled by all speech pathologists include:
- Diagnosing and preventing speech, language, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.
- Establish goals and create individualized treatment and therapy plans
- Providing rehab assistance to patients (if required)
- Conducting various screenings to detect any voice or speech disorders
- Educating about the causes, treatment plans, and the progress to the patient’s family members, medical professionals, teachers, and other related parties.
- Maintaining records of patient conditions, treatment plans, therapies, and their progress
- Providing appropriate referrals (when needed)
Common disorders treated by speech pathologists
Some of the most common disorders treated by an SLP include:
- Speech disorders like apraxia, stuttering, dysarthria, articulation disorders, and resonance disorders.
- Cognitive communication disorders (resulting from injury, stroke, or dementia)
- Language problems (both receptive and expressive) and auditory processing disorder
- Communication disorders (including the autism spectrum disorder)
Speech language pathologists rank among one of the most highly paid fields in America. Those who work in nursing care tend to earn higher than those employed in the educational sector. On average a speech pathologist earns an annual salary of $80,480. But this can go as high as $120,060 annually based on where you are employed and your experience.
What’s more, studies indicate that the job of a Speech Pathologist is a vastly growing field. It is expected to show an increase of 29% between now and 2030. This is directly in proportion to the monetary incentives as well as the exciting working environment promised by this job.