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If you want to enter an extremely rewarding career in healthcare, becoming a speech language pathologist could be a perfect fit for you! It is a career in the medical field that can be life changing, for it changes the lives for so many people, and in many cases, children.

According to National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 7.7% of U.S. children that are ages 3-17 and 7.6% of adults have had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing. A speech therapist changes many of lives for the better and gives them access to a normalized and rewarding life!

Speech-language pathologists are also known as speech therapists. A speech pathologist assesses, diagnoses, treats, and assists in the prevention of swallowing and communication disorders in adults and kids. Below we will get in to what causes these disorders, how they are treated and how one gets in to a career in speech therapy.

How to Become a Speech Language Pathologist

A speech therapist or speech-language pathologists or the acronym (SLP) are the professionals who are educated in the study of human communication, development and the disorders surrounding them. To become a speech language pathologist you will need a master’s degree and hold a state certification or license in the field and have earned a certificate of clinical competency from the (ASHA) American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Do All States Require Speech Pathology Certification?

No, Not all states require a speech pathology certification. But it is more and more common for all employers to do so. All speech-language pathologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). This certification is offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Also it is important to note that the certification usually will satisfies all of the requirements for state licensure and like we stated above it is required by most employers in today’s job market for SLPs.

For anyone to become a speech language pathologist and to get their CCC-SLP certification, they must first graduate from an accredited program(see the list below for all the approved programs), pass the certification examination, and then complete a fellowship under the direct supervision of a licensed speech pathologist. Every three years SLPs must re certify with 30 hours of continuing education training.

There are also three organizations that offer speech therapists and pathologists specialized certifications. These specialized licenses are from the American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders, the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders, and the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders.

What is a Speech Pathologist?

As we mentioned above speech therapists or also known speech language pathologists, treat, assess, diagnose and help to curb and cure the common communication and swallowing disorders among kids and adults. There are many causes for the need for speech therapy.

It is most common for to assess a patients speech or language, along with their cognitive abilities. Their goal is to identify the communication problems and figure out the best treatment plan for them. Figuring out if it is a articulation, fluency, voice, receptive or expressive language disorder is vital. Or it can be a combination of them all. Every child and adult is different and it is important that each patient be treated individually.

Causes for vast and widespread as are the treatments. It is important to enroll a patients in speech therapy as soon as possible, for study has shown that the quicker the treatment starts, the better the long term results. We have taken the time to list some of the causes below:

Stroke
Brain injury
Hearing Loss
Developmental Delay
Parkinson’s Disease
Cleft Palate
Autism

What are Some of the Speech Therapy Strategies?

It is most common to see these three strategies used by speech therapists and pathologists. We have provided brief explanations of them for you.

Articulation therapy – Oral exercises such as facial massaging and tongue and jaw exercises to stimulate and training the muscles that are needed for proper speech patterns.

Language intervention activity – These are activities where a SLP interacts with children by talking or playing using objects, pictures, speech repetition and emulation to assist in the stimulation of the language abilities.

Oral-motor-feeding and swallowing therapy – This therapy is an age appropriate exercise using sound production exercises that involve having the speech therapist model syllables and sounds in words.

What Does a Speech Pathologist do

The common duties and tasks of a speech language pathologist or speech therapist are listed below:

Evaluate speech and swallowing difficulty along with language levels
Come up with a treatment plan specific to patient’s needs
Teach patients how to make correct sounds
Assist in the improvement of vocabulary and sentence structures
Help develop/strengthen muscles that are used in swallowing
Counsel any individuals and families on the disorders and how to help

There were over 145,000 working speech therapists and pathologists in 2016 according to bls.gov. Here is where they worked:

Educational services (Schools) – 43%
Medical offices – 20%
Hospitals – 14%
Nursing facilities – 5%
Self-employed – 5%

Accredited Speech Pathology Programs

Enrollment in an accredited SLP training program is mandatory for certification. Below we have gone through and listed all the approved SLP programs by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. Upon graduating from one of the programs at the link below you will be ready to take your certification exam and get your speech therapy license n your respective state.

(ASHA) American Speech Language Association – Council of Academic Accreditation Accredited Programs

What is the Career Outlook for Speech Pathologists?

According to bls.gov’s latest statistics, speech therapists and pathologists are enjoying an 18% overall growth for the career as a whole. Which is well above the national average. With the baby boomer generation needed a record amount of healthcare and the population being higher than ever the demand for speech therapists has never been higher and will be growing consistently. As you can see multiple fields in the the speech therapy spectrum are growing very much.

Speech-language pathologists
18% growth
Health diagnosing and treating practitioners
16% growth
Total, all other occupations in U.S. economy
7% growth

Data from bls.gov

What is the Average Speech Pathologist Salary?

Below you see the breakdown of what a speech language pathologist makes in a year and per hour. All data come from the latest bls.gov data.

2017 Median Pay – $36.83 per hour
2017 Median Salary – $76,610 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education – Master’s Degree Needed
Total # of Jobs in 2016 – 145,100 total jobs
Overall Job Outlook – 2016-26 – 18% growth
Overall Growth – 2016-26 – +25,900 jobs