Speech-Language Pathologist Job Description, Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist, Salary, Employment
Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job
Education and Training: Master's degree
Salary: $52,000 - $75,000 per year
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Speech pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, work with people who cannot speak or cannot speak clearly; have speech problems, such as stuttering, an unwanted accent, or an inappropriate pitch; have problems understanding language; or have communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem-solving disorders. They also work with people who have trouble swallowing.
Speech and language problems result from injury, illness, cognitive deficits, developmental delays, or emotional difficulties. Many patients are children who lisp or stutter. Adult patients may be victims of strokes or of cerebral palsy. Speech pathologists often work closely with doctors, psychologists, physical therapists, or classroom teachers. They plan and carry out treatments that take into account the specific needs of each patient.
About half of all speech-language pathologists work in public schools. The remaining fifty percent have private practices or work in colleges and universities, clinics, hospitals, special speech and hearing centers, government agencies, and private industry. Some speech pathologists work on research projects to design and develop new equipment or methods for treating speech and hearing problems.
Education and Training Requirements
Master's degrees in speech-language pathology are the standard requirement for licensing in most states. Some states require teaching certificates to work in public schools and licenses to work in private practice, clinics, or other non-school settings. Certification and licensing requirements vary from state to state.
Certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is recommended for those who want to advance. Applicants for certification must have master's degrees or their equivalent and work experience.
Getting the Job
Job seekers can apply directly to schools, clinics, or other institutions. School placement offices or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association can provide information about job openings. State employment services, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet may also provide employment leads.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Advancement depends on education and experience. Speech-language pathologists can become supervisors or heads of clinics. They can set up private practices. Those with the necessary training can work as consultants, do research, and write books or articles on speech problems. Opportunities should be particularly favorable for those who are fluent in second languages, especially Spanish.
Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014. Openings in health and rehabilitation services will increase because of advances in medical technology and growth in the elderly population. In addition, demand for speech-language pathologists in schools should increase as people become more aware of the importance of early recognition and treatment of speech problems. Other job opportunities will occur when experienced workers retire or leave the field.
Working conditions are usually pleasant. Speech pathologists are members of health-care teams and interact with a wide variety of people. They should be patient and able to work well with others.
Many speech pathologists work more than forty hours per week. Their hours are often flexible, and part-time jobs are available. Speech pathologists working in public schools usually have the same schedule that classroom teachers have.
Earnings and Benefits
Salaries vary widely with education, experience, and location. In 2004 the median earnings of speech-language pathologists were $52,410 per year. Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans.
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