Also referred to as speech therapists, speech pathologists play a huge role in improving their patients’ quality of life. Apart from helping patients deal with speech and communication problems, they also assist them in putting words together and understanding language. Just about all individuals who take this line of work find it both rewarding and satisfying.

Speech Pathologist Job Description

Speech pathologists are basically in charge of diagnosing and treating individuals with communication disorders. The services they provide are aimed at helping people with literacy, cognitive -linguistic, speech, fluency, voice, or swallowing disorders brought about neurological disease,  cancer , stroke, seizure or other underlying medical conditions. This therefore means that in executing their duties, speech pathologists deal with person of all ages.

Speech pathologists enjoy a lot of flexibility particularly with regard to the employment settings. Nursing care facilities, hospitals and schools have been increasingly contracting speech pathologists, meaning these professionals can easily venture into self employment and only deal with clients on contract basis. Also, the job is unrestrictive since the therapists can creatively construct different therapy sessions to suit the needs of various patients.

The duties carried out by speech pathologists includes:
  • Establish the nature of a client’s communication challenges through tests and special equipment
  • Administer treatment based on the patient’s  age, social environment, and physical abilities
  • Help clients  to overcome stammering
  • Evaluate and provide treatment for people with difficulties in chewing and swallowing
  • Treat children with problems such as hearing loss, cerebral palsy, and delayed language development
  • Treat adults with speech or voice problems brought about by issues like brain damage, surgery or diseases of the nervous system
  • Provide continuous counseling to both clients and families
  • Keep records of client progress after treatment is administered

Speech Pathologist Prerequisites

Speech pathologists provide their services to people who have acquired or developmental conditions that limit how they communicate. Thus, people who choose this career path must be supportive, patient, and objective. They must also have good communication skills. In addition, it is essential for such persons to be effective team players since they have to work alongside psychiatrists and neurologists as they administer treatment to clients.

How to Become a Speech Pathologist

Any person who plans to practice as a speech pathologist needs to get a master’s degree in speech pathology. Optionally, one can go for a degree in a related field such as biology, audiology and psychology. It is also necessary to have a master’s degree in the same field. Most of the institutions that offer the undergraduate courses also provide master’s programs. However, one should only apply to a speech-language pathology education program accredited by The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA), which is a part of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. There’s a total of 253 master’s degree programs accredited by CAA.

While the complete program may take up to six years to cover, this is always made up for in terms of the earnings that a professional receives once they get into the field. Also, considering the growth projected in this industry, people who pursue an education in this field are set for great opportunities in the future.

Training for Speech Pathologists

When taking undergraduate classes in speech pathology, a person also needs to go through some clinical internship where they can work alongside a professional. Such hands-on training provides real experience so the individual gets a good idea of what working as a pathologist may be like. The basic training in this case includes physiology and basic anatomy, though there may also be instruction on the conditions that lead to speaking and swallowing difficulties.

Speech therapists who train in professional settings have to learn to create speech exercise programs and to implement treatment while in close contact with psychologists. The therapists are also trained to counsel patients and families as the treatment plan continues.

Even after getting opportunities in the field, it’s important for speech pathologists to pursue additional training constantly so as to be at par with the developments in the field. Extra instruction may also be necessary for a person who wishes to get board recognition in their area of interest.

Speech Pathologist Certification

Before one becomes a speech pathologist, they are required to take certification which will subsequently get them qualified to give services to clients. The specific requirements for certification and practice however vary based on the region a professional opts to work in. In most of the states, licensure is required for practice. Completion of a master’s degree is requirement. Successful graduates will earn a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP).

It’s very important for anyone interested in this career to get well versed with the practice requirements. It’s also essential for them to know where they plan to work so that they get better prepared in the course of training.

Speech Pathologist Salary

Click here for Speech Pathologist Salary Page

Speech Pathologist Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the speech pathologist job description:
  • Diagnose and treat patients with communication disorder
  • Work with neurologist and psychiatrist
  • 4 year master’s degree
  • Certification is required in most states
  • 19% employment growth by 2022