Communication Disorders Bachelors Degree Jobs – Communication is key to our existence as humans. So who do we turn to when our body or mind gets in the way of successful communication? Speech-language pathologists are trained to treat speech disorders and improve communication strategies for patients of all ages. With the help and guidance of a speech pathologist, a patient’s quality of life can be greatly improved through better social interactions, educational advancement, and career opportunities. This post is a step-by-step guide to becoming a speech pathologist.
Earning your degree is a critical first step in becoming a speech pathologist. If possible, choose a major related to your career goals, such as communication sciences and disorders (CSD), psychology, education, linguistics, English, or language development.
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You must obtain a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) from a program that is accredited or in candidate status for accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) – depending on state requirements. The benefit of such a language therapy program at a speech and language therapy school is that it often combines an academic course load with practical clinical exposure. MS-SLP programs include 400 hours of clinical experience through clinical practicum so that graduate speech students meet the national certification requirements mandated by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association ( ASHA). According to ASHA guidelines, of the 400 clinical hours required, 25 of those hours must be in the form of guided clinical observation, often best accomplished in the classroom. The remaining 375 hours must be with direct client/patient contact.
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Related undergraduate studies, such as CSD, typically include the required core classes needed to progress to graduate school. However, if you are not qualified, you will need to take SLP leveling courses before starting your master’s degree.
After completing your master’s degree in speech-language pathology, you must complete 1,260 hours of clinical experience and at least 36 weeks of full-time (or part-time equivalent) experience under the guidance of a Certificate of Clinical Competency to a Certified Speech -Language Pathology Mentor (CCC-SLP) for two years. ((American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “A Guide to the ASHA Clinical Fellowship Experience”: https://www.asha.org/certification/clinical-fellowship/ )) This transitional work experience helps those candidate in speech pathology who transitioned from supervision to independent practice.
To gain this valuable clinical experience, you may be required to obtain a temporary license (also called a “restricted license” or “licensure to practice”) from the speech pathology and audiology board in your state. Eligibility requirements include a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited CAA program and a mentor-approved plan to complete your clinical fellowship.
During your clinical fellowship, you will need to register to take Praxis exams in Speech-Language Pathology, administered by the Education Testing Service (ETS). Students must score at least 162 ((American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Praxis Scores and Score Reports”: https://www.asha.org/certification/praxis/praxis_scores/)) score out of 200 to pass the exam and move toward certification as an SLP. Achieving this goal is a prerequisite to be eligible for the final steps.
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Perhaps the most important step in this journey is securing your official credentials as a speech pathologist. ASHA, which oversees the certification process, lists four requirements you must meet to obtain the Certificate of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP):
Each state has its own guidelines for licensing. Some conditions require less time of clinical experience than others. Some state-specific requirements may depend on the setting in which you plan to work, such as education, telemedicine, or early intervention. See the ASHA State-by-State resource page for more information.
Like all health professionals, speech therapists are constantly learning and developing professionally in their health science careers. Some states may require SLPs to refresh and develop their skills by obtaining a minimum number of continuing education units (CEUs). Check your state license information for clarification.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) diagnose and treat patients who struggle with speech disorders and communication issues related to speech and language, whether physical or cognitive. They also face problems related to swallowing and hearing. Also commonly referred to as “speech therapists,” these health care professionals work with patients at every stage of their lives, from early childhood to adulthood.
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Communication and swallowing disorders are associated with medical conditions such as developmental differences, cleft palate, autism, stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, Parkinson’s disease, and more. These disorders manifest as language delays, voice problems, pronunciation disorders, fluency challenges, social interaction difficulties, and reading and writing problems. ((American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Speech, Language, and Swallowing”: https://www.asha.org/public/speech/ ))
This can be very rewarding work. Reflecting on his experiences with stroke survivors, Dr. Meghan Savage, CCC-SLP, PhD says, “This population is very motivated and I’m drawn to that. They look at you like you’re the only person who’s really trying to talk to them.”
According to the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “at least 1 in 6 Americans has or will experience a sensory or communication disorder in their lifetime.” ((Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “Screening for Hearing and Other Sensory or Communication Disorders”): https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/ hearing-and-other-sensory-or -communication – disorders )) These disorders may be present from birth, develop over time, or be caused by sudden physiological changes. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that more than 7% of Americans age 3 and older have experienced some type of communication disorder in the past 12 months. ((National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Voice, Speech, Language Quick Stats,” 19 May 2016:
With such a wide range of potential patients, SLPs often work directly with both children and adults, with 38% working in schools, 22% working in specialty offices (eg, 14% in hospitals, 4% in skilled nursing facilities and 6% in a self-employed capacity (eg, as a consultant or practice owner). : https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech- language-pathologists.htm#tab-3 ))
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Speech-language pathologists learn strategies for working with patients whose communication abilities can vary greatly. Patients may be unable to speak. they may have difficulty speaking (such as stuttering). they may have comprehension challenges. or they may have voice problems (such as inappropriate volume).
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics. identifies some of the common daily tasks of speech-language pathologists (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Speech Pathologists: What Speech-Language Pathologists Do,” last revised Sept. 8, 2021: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm#tab-2 )) as:
SLPs use a variety of specialized tools and techniques to help their patients regain or repair their communication skills.
There is much to consider before devoting years of study and preparation to a career in speech-language pathology. Here are some of the most common questions that come up for aspiring speech science students.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for speech therapists was $80,480 per year, or $38.69 per hour, as of May 2020. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Speech-Language Pathologists” : Summary, last modified September 8, 2021: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm )) During that time, the top 10% took home over $122,000 a year. The earning potential for an SLP often depends on geographic location, experience, and whether they work in a specialty area.
With the amount of study time and clinical experience required to earn SLP certification, getting there can take some time. Let’s break it down (all times are approximate):
If diving into an 8-year commitment to a career in speech pathology sounds daunting, you can test the waters as a speech pathology assistant. As the title suggests, SLPAs provide secretarial and some basic clinical assistance to SLPs. Their duties may include maintaining medical records, preparing diagnostic equipment, and implementing treatment programs as prescribed by the speech therapist. Assistants have significantly lower salaries than certified SLPs, earning an average of $39,530 per year in 2020. ((Career OneStop, “Job Profile: Speech-Language Pathology Assistants”: https://www .careeronestop.org/Toolkit/ Careers /Occupations/occupation-profile.aspx?keyword=Speech-Language%20Pathology%20Assistants&onetcode=31909901&location=UNITED%20STATES )) Completion of at least two years of a degree or program and a technical program in training from a related discipline or community hours 100 clinical care experience required to start your course. ((American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Assistants Program, “Become a Certified Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA)”: https://www.ashaassistants.org/pathways-speech-language-pathology-assistant/)) This is It is important to note that state regulations may vary and not all states allow for speech pathology support staff. ((American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Frequently Asked Questions: Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPA)”): https://www.asha.org/assistants-certification-program/slpa-faqs/#how-states -credential))
Speech-language pathology is rated as a health career with good job security and growth potential. ((Alicia Ghannad, “9 Top Allied Health Careers”, MAS Medical Staffing, 22 January 2021: https://www.masmedicalstaffing.com/2021/01/22/9-top-allied-health-careers/ ) ) Miscellaneous These factors have created a need for more SLPs, along with a wide variety of career opportunities.
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Growing awareness of communication disorders such as stuttering and autism continues to increase the need for SLPs who focus on young patients. Some states are projecting shortages of school speech-language pathologists for the 2022-2023 school year, particularly Connecticut, Nevada, North Dakota and West Virginia. ((U.S. Department of Education, Teacher Shortage Areas. Year: 2021–2022. State: All. Subject: Support Staff. Discipline: Speech Pathologist/Audiologist: https://tsa.ed.gov/#/ reports) ) To take advantage of such deficiencies, consider being
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