How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech-language pathology (SLP) is a rewarding career. You get to help people every day, and there are also many opportunities to explore. As a speech-language pathologist, you can work with people of all ages and help them improve speech, communication, feeding, and swallowing.
Are you interested in becoming a speech-language pathologist? Read on to learn more about the requirements and skills you need.
What Is Speech-Language Pathology?
Speech-language pathologists diagnose, evaluate, and treat various speech and communication disorders, swallowing disorders, and voice disorders. Traditionally, SLPs worked face-to-face with patients in hospitals and schools, but remote SLP has become increasingly common and is just as rewarding. Plenty of online SLP jobs are available, and online SLP gives you access to many opportunities you may otherwise not be able to pursue.
A speech-language pathologist has many duties, but they vary depending on the type of patient the SLP works with and the facility. For example, a speech-language pathologist who works for a hospital would most likely see patients with speech and swallowing difficulties resulting from a stroke, while a school SLP would more likely work with students with autism or a stutter. Some duties of a speech-language pathologist include:
- Assessing, diagnosing, and treating speech, language, and swallowing disorders
- Working with family members, teachers, doctors, and other professionals to implement a treatment plan
- Updating records of patients’ progress and adjusting treatment plans as necessary
- Motivating patients through periods of slow progress
- Staying up-to-date on the newest research and advancements in the field
- Establishing and maintaining professional networks by attending conferences and events
SLP services vary depending on the diagnosis and can be done online as effectively as in person. Some of these services include:
- Assessing, diagnosing, and treating speech and language disorders, including syntax, semantics, stuttering, difficulty producing sounds, poor articulation, ataxia of speech, and social communication.
- Assessing, diagnosing, and treating cognitive communication disorders in which people have difficulty organizing their thoughts, paying attention, and problem-solving. This area includes treating the effects of traumatic brain injuries, stroke, and dementia.
- Assessing, diagnosing, and treating voice disorders, including if someone talks too loudly, quietly, or nasally.
- Assessing, diagnosing, and treating swallowing disorders, including difficulty feeding and swallowing following illness or injury.
How To Become A Speech-Language Pathologist
Becoming an SLP is a long but rewarding process. It includes the following steps:
- Complete a bachelor’s degree in communication science and disorders, speech-language pathology, or a related field.
- Complete a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.
- Take the Praxis exam in speech-language pathology to assess your knowledge of the foundations of speech-language pathology, assessing and diagnosing patients, etiology, and planning and implementing treatment.
- Complete a postgraduate internship, which is a requirement for state licensure, where you work with an approved SLP for at least 1,260 hours over at least 36 weeks, with 80 percent of your clinical experience involving direct patient contact.
- Obtain state licensure and certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
- Maintain an active license by completing continuing education credits as defined by the states where you hold licenses.
Speech-Language Pathologist Education Requirements
Education requirements are the foundation of a speech-language pathology certification.
First, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology to prepare for graduate-level courses. Other related bachelor’s degrees can also prepare you for your studies, including degrees in education, linguistics, or psychology. However, you may have to take a few additional courses to meet the prerequisites of the master’s programs you plan to apply to.
After completing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to complete a master’s degree in speech-language pathology accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA).
Master’s programs vary from university to university, but they are generally 60 credits, with courses covering things like articulation, dysphagia, phonology, and speed-language disorders. Most students apply for graduate school at the beginning of their senior year in their bachelor’s program.
There are many SLP skills needed in addition to education and credentials. Some of them include:
- Critical thinking
- Active listening
- Time management
Speech-Language Pathologist Salary
SLP salary varies depending on the individual’s location and the type of facility hiring but the average SLP salary is typically higher than other school professionals.
Speech-Language Pathologist Job Outlook
The SLP job outlook is much better than in other fields, with a predicted 21% growth rate between 2021 and 2031, or an additional 34,000 jobs. This figure includes both in-person and remote SLP jobs. Plus, with the awareness of speech and language disorders increasing, SLPs can anticipate a greater demand for their services as well.
Speech-language pathology is a rewarding field that offers many opportunities, including online SLP jobs. If you’re a speech-language pathologist looking for a new position, search our open speech-language pathologist jobs and apply with VocoVision today!