The Scoop on Speech/Language Pathologists

With the growing numbers of children hitting our schools and an aging population we have a great need for Speech/Language Pathologists.

Speech Therapy, as it's called, is not ONLY about talking. There is a lot more that goes into being a Speech Therapist and many more skills that you might not have imagined. With 12,000 new jobs in this field that are expected to appear between 2006 and 2016 this is a good time to get into the field (even if you have to go to school for a little while longer than you thought.)

What in the World Does a Speech/Language Pathologist Do?

Speech Therapists work with all sorts of patients who have speech and swallowing problems. Because so much of speech is related to the tongue and how the tongue moves Speech Therapists also can tackle swallowing issues in patients (because the tongue helps you swallow too!)

If you were working as a Speech Therapist you would be responsible for diagnosing, treating and monitoring the speech/swallowing problems of your patients. Typically this means you would be doing very minor physical examinations (looking in the patient's mouth perhaps), evaluating how they speak now and coming up with a course of treatment for them.

Not only do you provide direct care to your patients but you would also have to provide exercises that they could do on their own to improve their situation. This means that you are constantly monitoring what your patients are doing and how they are doing it.

Beyond the treatments themselves you are also responsible for maintaining and updating your patient's records. This is crucial to your job because your patients are usually referred to you by a Doctor and that Doctor needs to know what's going on with their referred patient.

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

Training to become a Speech Therapist really only follows one course. First, you must go to college and get a Bachelor's Degree (usually in a science like Biology or Chemistry.) Sometimes, because of the massive amount of children who need speech therapy, you might want to get an education degree first. Second, you will need to get a Master's Degree in Speech/Language Pathology. If you can't go back to school right away an Education Degree helps because you can work as a Teacher while getting your Master's.

After you have gone to school you will need a license form the State Medical Board to practice as a Speech/Language Pathologist. This means you'll have to pass a written exam and some sort of "skills" test. After being awarded your license you can go on your job hunt (but remember that your license needs continuing education so you can renew. Just make sure you can do that.)

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Most Speech Therapists work in schools or hospitals. Working in a school system means you will be assigned to multiple schools (typically) and you'll be responsible for a great deal of kids. However, if you enjoy kids this is the best place to work because you can work with all kinds of different kids in all kinds of different schools.

If you wanted to work in a hospital or nursing home you would work with all sorts of patients who have speech and swallowing problems (which may result from strokes and other disorders.) In this setting you would work in the hospital and service whoever they send to you. You could get out of a hospital and work in an Audiologist's or ENT's office if you didn't like the feel of the Hospital.

Some Speech Therapists work in a school AND work in a Doctor's office to pad their income. This might be stressful because you'd have, essentially, two full-time jobs.

Advancement in the profession usually requires a Doctorate in Speech/Language Pathology. You would use your Doctorate to get into teaching at a medical school or university. Also, you could use your advanced degree to get into research into Speech Therapy or to rise in the ranks to become a Supervisor of Therapists like "Director of Speech Therapy" or "Supervisor of Therapeutic Services". Either way, you don't just have to deal with vowel sounds and diphthongs if you don't want to.

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Speech-Language Pathologists Overview

Speech-Language Pathologist Salary:$62,930
Job Prospects:A+
Education after high school:7 years
# Employed in US:107,340
% Who work Part Time:28%
Physical Difficulty:+
Intellectual Difficulty:+ + + +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being a Speech/Language Pathologist

  • The field is expected to grow well in the next 10 years
  • The training required can be coupled with an education degree (which means you can work as a teacher while you get your Master's)
  • You can hold more than one job at a time and pad your income

The Cons of being a Speech/Language Pathologist

  • The training takes some time (you need a Master's Degree)
  • You will work with kids who are really struggling (which might be hard to deal with)
  • It may also be hard to work with patient's who have had strokes or brain injuries

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