Speech pathologists work regular office hours, are well paid and don’t require a doctoral degree. This an attractive allied health field, but what exactly do speech language pathologists do? How can you become one? If you’re planning a career in this field, this article will answer all your questions about becoming a speech pathologist.
Speech language pathologists help patients overcome communication barriers. This could mean helping an adult stroke patient recover their speech ability or a young child overcome a stutter. Most speech language pathologists work in a specific setting, such as working in a school, a hospital or a private practice. In this job, you’ll help patients overcome physical challenges, such as a cleft palate, and mental barriers, like shyness and autism. You’ll probably choose an age range or specific speech problem to concentrate on. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most (43 percent) of speech language pathologists work in educational settings.
Training & Licensure
Becoming a speech pathologist is not an easy journey. First, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in any subject, then a master’s degree from an accredited school. The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology maintains a list of recognized schools. As part of your graduate degree, you’ll complete 400 hours of clinic experience, including 25 hours of observation and at least 375 hours of patient contact. You’ll then have to complete an entire year (1260 hours) of a clinical fellowship. Finally, you’ll have to pass the Praxis exam to become licensed. After you’re a fully trained and licensed speech pathologist, you’ll need to earn continuing education credits. The exact requirements vary by state.
In this role, you’ll spend most of your work hours seeing patients. Depending on where you work, you may have some administrative duties. Eventually, you can become a manager and oversee other speech pathologists, but you’ll likely continue seeing patients. You may choose to start your own small business and contract out speech language pathology services, which mean you’ll need to learn billing, accounting and business skills. In some cases, you could become a full-time administrator at a large health facility, although you’ll probably need a master’s of healthcare administration (MHA) or master’s of public health (MPH) with a concentration in healthcare administration for this career path.
Audiologist vs Speech Language Pathologist
Although audiologists and language pathologists often work together, they have different expertise. Audiologists must earn a doctoral degree and a license to practice. They diagnose and manage hearing-related problems, including helping patients use hearing aids. An audiologist might send a patient with hearing loss to a speech language pathologists to learn how to recover normal speaking patterns after hearing damage. As a language pathologist, you cannot become an audiologist with completing an entirely new graduate degree.
Related Resource: Top 20 Best Master’s in Reading and Literacy Online 2018
You don’t have to suffer through four years of medical school and seven years of residency to help patients. As a speech pathologist, you can make a difference without sacrificing your own quality of life.