What is a Speech Language Pathologist? Brief Overview:
A speech language pathologist, or speech therapist, helps people who have difficulty communicating. Speech language pathologists evaluate and treat a variety of communication and cognitive disorders in patients ranging from infants to geriatric.
According to John Moberly, Senior Vice President of MedTravelers, a healthcare staffing firm based out
of Irving, TX, speech and language pathologists “improve communication skills through vocal exercises and cognitive therapies. Patients undergoing treatment by a speech therapist may have an articulation, language, fluency, or resonance disorder, which prevents them from either being understood or understanding others.”
Where Speech Language Pathologists Work:
Speech language pathologists may work in a variety of settings; therefore this is a career choice that provides many employment options. In addition to medical offices, hospitals, and clinics, speech language pathologists may also work in schools, long-term care facilities, state or local health departments or government agencies, rehabilitation centers or home health agencies.
Educational Requirements for Speech Language Pathologists:
Jobs as a speech language pathologist require graduate level education:
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree in an accredited speech and language program
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), a strong liberal arts foundation is a great option for an undergraduate major. Coursework in linguistics, behavioral science, anatomy, psychology, and math and general science are recommended.
If you plan to work in research, or in private practice, or as a college professor in speech pathology, a PhD degree is recommended in the field.
Certification for Speech Language Pathologists:
Before working as a speech language pathologist, one must be certified as such. According to ASHA, once you have completed the above educational requirements, you are eligible to apply for certification which includes a clinical fellowship training period, and a certification exam. This is called CCC (Council for Clinical Certification).
Depending on the state where you work, there may be additional certifications required at the state level.
Skill Set Requirements for Speech Language Pathologists:
For optimal success as a speech language pathologist, one should have a sincere interest in helping others, as with other medical careers. According to ASHA, other important skills and attributes include patience, tolerence, persistence, commitment, and sensitivity. Above average intellect, particularly in the field of science, is important as well.
Average Salary for Speech Language Pathologists:
According to Mr. Moberly of MedTravelers, the average salary for speech language pathologists is between $53,000 and $65,000 annually. However, the top speech therapists can earn upwards of $80,000 annually, with experience, extra education or specialization. “In the speech therapy field, salary can vary greatly, depending upon the job setting and the level of experience a therapist has,” he adds. In addition to education level, location can also affect salary levels.