Speech-Language Pathologist

Pros


  • This is work that helps people to communicate with others better, allowing them to improve a basic human need.
  • Most speech-language pathologists work regular hours in comfortable environments such as a school or office setting.
  • This is a good career for those who are interested in communication.

Cons

  • You must be able to intensely concentrate, often for long periods of time.
  • You will need to be able to deal with your patients with tact. Many of them have suffered a serious medical problem that has resulted in a loss of basic function.
  • The minimum education to get a job in this field is the completion of a master’s degree program.

Overview

Speech-language pathologists are special therapists that help their patients to better communicate. They diagnose and treat a variety of disorders related to communication such as language fluency, voice and swallowing problems. This can include stuttering or other vocal problems that make it hard for other people to understand what a patient is trying to communicate. Often times they are known as speech therapists, and they help people with their communication problems that may be derived from developmental problems, learning disabilities, strokes or brain injuries.

After assessing a patient and diagnosing specific problems, speech-language pathologists will establish a plan of individual care for a patient. This may require patients to learn alternative ways of communicating if they have serious issues or learning special speaking methods that allow them to be more clearly understood. Speech-language pathologists also help people that have trouble swallowing. This may require a patient to have to re-learn basic skills that were lost due to a serious injury or illness.

A speech-language pathologist will work in a variety of environments, often collaborating with medical professionals as well as social workers. They can be found in schools, hospitals and private clinics. Some of them work for the government in social service offices. Many of them become specialized in providing a specific method of care.

Education

Those wishing to become a speech-language pathologist must complete a master’s degree in order to get a job. This requires students to graduate from a four year university and apply to graduate school. Most graduate schools require applicants to take the GRE, also known as the graduate record examination. Once a student has graduated from an accredited program in speech-language pathology, they will need to complete a nine month clinical experience program which allows them to work under close supervision. Speech language pathologists also need to become properly licensed by taking an exam.

Job Prospects

Prospective speech-language pathologists can expect good job prospects. Because of medical advances more people are able to recover from traumatic medical problems, and many of them need the rehabilitative services that speech-language pathology provides. Also contributing to growth is the aging population. Older generations are living longer and they need the expertise of a speech-language pathologist, particularly after suffering from a stroke or other neurological disorder.

Advancement Opportunities

It is possible to advance in this profession. There are opportunities for students to complete a doctoral degree in this field, and this can lead to very enlightening research and educational opportunities for those who are interested. Speech-language pathologists that are very good with people can be found in management or administrative positions of great responsibility. Also, many schools and other educational institutions are now contracting speech-language pathology out to private companies, and it will be a possible to capitalize on this trend for those who have a knack for business management by starting a company that provides staffing or other related speech-language expertise to large organizations.