The fulfilling career of a speech pathologist

  • The fulfilling career of a speech pathologist


    If you are passionate about helping others, you may consider a career in speech pathology. This rewarding occupation allows you to work with children and adults suffering from communication disorders. Speech pathologists observe, diagnose and treat clients on an individual level, noting how their symptoms improve or progress over time. Since this career involves a great deal of knowledge and insight on different speech disorders and treatment techniques, you will need to complete a master’s degree before joining this field.

    If you’d like to find out more about the speech pathology career, read on to learn the everyday duties and career and salary projections. Then discover how you can become a speech pathologist.

    The day-to-day of a speech pathologist

    Speech pathologists, also called speech therapists, assess, diagnose and treat communication disorders in children and adults. Disabilities they address might include cognitive issues, speaking difficulties and social communication disorders. They also might help children and adults improve their verbal skills while recovering from strokes, trauma and other debilitating instances. Here are some of the specific tasks these professionals do on a regular basis:

    • Analyze speech and language difficulties in clients
    • Determine and carry out individualized treatment plans
    • Teach clients how to improve their voices and quality of speaking
    • Tutor children and adults on using proper vocabulary and sentence formats
    • Communicate with families on how to handle communication disorders and treatments

    Speech pathologists can specialize in one type of client base, usually either children or elderly adults. They can also work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools or private practice offices that conduct speech therapy.

    Career and salary outlook

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for speech and language pathologists is expected to rise 18 percent through 2026, at a faster rate than the average occupational growth. This trend may be a result of the increased awareness of different speech disorders in young children, such as stuttering. In addition, many intervention plans for children with autism are beginning to include the incorporation of speech therapy to improve their communication skills.

    The BLS reported that the median salary for speech and language pathologists was $76,610 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent of earnings was around $48,830, while the highest 10 percent made more than $118,910; this reflects the earning potential as well as the career mobility you can achieve in this occupation.

    How to become a speech pathologist

    Even though standards for speech pathologists vary by state, individuals pursuing this career generally need to have at least a master’s degree. To be certified, you will need to complete a graduate program that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation. There are currently 255 CAA-accredited programs for speech pathology. When you begin your search for graduate schools, it’s important to make sure each Speech/Speech Therapy program is accredited. This makes your licensure and certification processes much more seamless following graduation from your master’s program.

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