Jobs available with a degree in communication sciences and disorders deal with impairments in communication related either to hearing or to issues with speech. People in this field may work as audiologists or as speech-language pathologists. They may also choose to work in academia.
Audiologists address problems with the ear and hearing. People with these types of problems may also have related issues, such as difficulty with balance, that audiologists also treat. Audiologists may also fit people with hearing aids and treat tinnitus. For patients with hearing loss, audiologists may work with them and their families on other methods of communication. This could include using technology or lip reading. They may educate patients or the public about hearing loss avoidance, and they may also specialize in treating a particular population such as older people or children.
In addition to a doctoral degree, an audiologist must be licensed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is expected to be significant growth in opportunities for audiologists due to an aging population.
Another one of the jobs available with a degree in communication sciences and disorders is speech-language pathologist. These professionals work with people on disorders related to language, speech and swallowing. These disorders could be because of a developmental delay or could relate to other issues such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke or brain injury. Speech-language pathologists evaluate speech problems and put together treatment plans for individuals. They may help people who have disorders such as stuttering or those who struggle with the pitch or sound of their voice. They may work with both children and adults in teaching them how to create sounds, speak fluently, build vocabulary and improve sentence structure. They may also help patients develop swallowing muscles. Speech-language pathologists also help patients’ families deal with these disorders. Like audiologists, speech-language pathologists may specialize in certain populations.
Usually, a master’s degree is required to work as a speech pathologist. Depending on the state a person works in, either licensing or registration may be required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as with audiologists, this field is expected to grow in the years ahead.
Academics and researchers in the field of communication sciences and disorders both teach and conduct further research. They may move into teaching and research after working as an audiologist or speech language pathologist. Working as an academic generally requires a doctoral degree. Research topics could focus on aural rehabilitation, specific language disorders such as aphasia, cultural issues, the use of technology in treating speech or hearing disorders and more. Professors might also talk to students about working in the field and the job opportunities available.
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For the most part, jobs in this field require degrees beyond the bachelor’s level. Professionals who work with people on speech and hearing disorders must have good communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The jobs available with a degree in communication sciences and disorders generally involve working closely with patients and families who may be under stress, so patience and empathy are also important qualities.