Speech-Language Pathologist - How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-Language Pathologist

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Speech-Language Pathologist Job Description

 

Speech-language pathologists work to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients with speech and language disorders.  SLPs treat people that have swallowing disorders or speech, language, and communication complications. Most of these issues are the results of stroke, hearing loss, brain injury, or pathological stress. For instance, a person with a stutter would work with a SLP to correct their speech and break the barriers that hinder their communication. 

Speech-Language pathologists also serve as teaching faculty at universities, occupy management positions at clinics or private practices, work to devise better treatments and diagnostic procedures for communications problems, research the behavior related to linguistic disorders, and study human communication processes to advance scientific research.

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Responsibilities

 

SLPs work with patients to evaluate needs and level of speech or language difficulty. They assess communication problems with basic reading and speaking tasks and work with their patients to find a suitable path to treatment. 

SLPs guide patients in a step-by-step treatment plan to enable recovery. Their patients may be unable to speak or have rhythm and fluency problems, like stuttering, and take many hours of treatment. SLPs deal with a wide range of speech-language problems like stuttering, harsh and high-pitched voices, trauma victims, neurological disorders, and those born with a cleft pallet or cerebral palsy. Because of this, they have many responsibilities that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Teach patients correct sounds and instruct them on how to improve their voices

  • Help patients with little to no speech capabilities learn alternative communication methods like sign language.

  • Teach reading and writing skills

  • Practice techniques to strengthen swallowing muscles 

  • Counsel patients and their families on how to cope with problems and overcome emotional stress that has derived from speech and communication issues

Along with creating treatment plans and working through the steps with their patients, Speech-Language Pathologists also have to take care of administrative tasks. These include:

  • Keeping records

  • Documenting evaluations and diagnostics

  • Track treatment progress

  • Record changes in condition

  • Complete final evaluations

For SLPs that work as professors in universities or colleges they usually carry out all the previously listed duties as well as creating curriculum for their classes, administering tests, and researching for writing, publishing, and advancing scientific data. Other SLPs, that work in K-12 school systems, collaborate with teachers, students, and parents to carry out individual or group programs and provide counseling when needed. 

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Skills

 

Speech-language pathologists often work with people who are frustrated by their difficulties and their treatment plans take time, so it's important they have certain interpersonal and emotional skills to deal with emotionally stressed patients and difficult situations.

Some of the necessary skills include:

Communication

Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas about patient's treatment plans and diagnoses. Must correspond with other medical professionals to ensure patient care.

Compassion

Especially important when dealing with frustrated patients and empathizing with their journey.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Detail-Oriented

They must carefully listen and work with patients to enable treatment. SLPs must pay close attention and concentrate to understand and help patients. 

Listening Skills

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. Must listen to patients to determine problems and treatments.

Empathy

Must be able to empathize with a patient's pain and difficulties. Need to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves since they deal with sensitive issues.

Patience

Since it takes long hours, close attention, and overcoming frustrations, a SLP must be calm and work through the process slowly.

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Working Conditions

 

Speech-language pathologists may work full-time for a single organization or may have a part-time job that could involve considerable travel time between job locations. Almost half of all SLPs work in schools, so their environment consists of a classroom or small counseling office setting. 

Those with a full-time job usually work a 40-hour work week, frequently as the member of team made up of some mix of doctors, audiologists, social workers, rehabilitation counselors, and psychologists. And if they work in hospitals, or private practices, they have an environment that is usually cool and well lit. Some have comfortable seats and a setting to help ease the anxiety that their patients have. 

A speech-language pathologist may work for a hospital, a private practice, or an educational organization. They work with a range of patients, from infants to elderly people, while coordinating and cooperating with other healthcare and rehabilitation professionals. They provide counseling to individuals and their families, and use technology to more accurately diagnose and assess speech disorders.

 


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How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist:

 

Speech-language pathologists can opt to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) before starting a graduate program, or other prerequisites as determined by the school. Academic requirements are fairly stringent, and include a graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from a Council on Academic Accreditation accredited program, a supervised postgraduate fellowship, and a national exam. Finally, a state license for Audiology or Speech-Language Pathology is needed in most states before you can begin to practice.

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

 

Although there is no specific undergraduate major required to become a Speech-Language Pathologist, most students looking to go into the field, major in Communication or Speech and Hearing Sciences. These majors give students the pre-requisites required for graduate-level speech therapy classes. 

Below is a table of classes you can expect to take to become a speech-language pathologist:

 

Freshman Year
  • English 101,102
  • Reasoning, Algebra, Pre-Calculus
  • Psychology 101, 102
  • Biology Cluster
  • Chemistry or Physics
  • Sociology, Anthropology, or
  • Education
Sophomore Year
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I & Lab
  • American Sign Language I
  • Behavioral Statistics 
  • Introduction to Human Communication Disorders 
  • Anatomy and Physiology of the Auditory and Vocal Mechanism
  • Phonetics of American English
  • Language Development in Children

Junior Year

  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Hearing Science
  • Language Disorders in Children
  • Speech Science
  • Introduction to Audiology
  • Introduction to Aural Rehabilitation
  • Neurological and Functional Disorders of Speech, Language and Voice
  • Clinical Audiology
Senior Year
  • Independent Study in Speech-
  • Language Pathology and Audiology 
  • Directed Readings in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
  • Proctoring in Speech-Language
  • Pathology and Audiology
  • Introduction to the Helping Relationship
  • Applied Grammar 
  • Introduction to Stuttering 
  • Introduction to Special Education

 

After obtaining your bachelor's degree, you must go on to get a Master's in Speech-Language Pathology. It is required by every state to get your licensure. 

 

2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)

 

Most graduate programs revolving around forensic science require the GRE for admittance. It's a 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam that covers analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

 

The GRE is broken down into six primary sections:

 

1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • ~20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data

2 Verbal Reasoning Sections

  • ~20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

 

You can find study materials, GRE registration, and your test scores on the GRE website.

 

3. Earn a Master's in Speech-Language Pathology (2 Years)

 

A Master's Degree is crucial in becoming a speech-language pathologist because grad-school is where you actually specialize in your field and focus in on Speech-Language Pathology. The graduate program introduces you to different concepts you might have touched on in under-grad, but you will come to understand them fully and start developing your professional skills and abilities to create treatment plans.

These concepts include:

  • Voice Articulation

  • Phonology

  • Literacy

  • Neurological Substrates

You can also specialize in certain fields during your Master's like: early intervention, providing therapy to school-aged children, or in neurogenic disorders. You will conduct supervised clinical practicums to diagnose and treat patients, which will expose you to hands-on training and orient you with your duties as a working professional. 

 

4. Earn a Certification in Speech-Language Pathology

 

After all the school and all the work, you still must earn your American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) credentials by completing 400 hours of supervised clinical experience.  ASHA offers credentialing for speech therapists in academic programs, clinical practice, continuing education, and clinical specialty recognition. Once you complete your 400 hours you will get ASHA's Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) which satisfies all or parts of every states requirements. 

 

5. Earn the Required License

 

Your CCC-SLP credentials may satisfy most states requirements, but in others you have to jump through more hoops to become a practicing SLP. In the states that have their own specific requirements to become a SLP, it mainly comes down to obtaining your Master's, fulfilling a set number of supervised clinical practicum hours, and passing certain exams. 

 

5. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education

 

Each state is different, but some require SLPs to continue their education to remain licensed. And After all the work it takes to become one, it's best to find out your states requirements and abide. Many of the education requirements can be met by attending seminars, workshops, or taking classes; they help keep SLPs current on standards, practices, and trends. 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.05.2016
The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...
12.05.2016
The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...
12.05.2016
Under general supervision, the speech language pathologist will assess and treat individuals with a variety of communication, cognitive and swallowing disorders. Major Duties: Meets organizational expectations as defined by the Employee...
12.05.2016
St. Marys Regional Medical Center is not just a hospital. We are a team of healthcare professionals focused on developing the best culture of quality care for our patients. We proudly hold the 1st Quality Award given throughout all UHS facilities...
12.05.2016
*This is a full-time Speech Language Pathologist position with our Home Health Department* This position will support adult and pediatric patients in both home care and hospice. Reviews treatment orders and appropriate medical records and...
12.05.2016
Livingston HealthCare Speech-Language Pathologist provides outpatient care, in-patient care subacute (swing bed) care, home health, school based and clinic based pediatric care. Additional services may include but are not limited to hearing...
12.05.2016
St. Marys Regional Medical Center is not just a hospital. We are a team of healthcare professionals focused on developing the best culture of quality care for our patients. We proudly hold the 1st Quality Award given throughout all UHS facilities...
12.05.2016
BCLS - Basic Cardiac Life Support SLP - Speech Language Pathologist 1 Year of Experience Required If you are an energetic Speech Language Pathologist who enjoys being part of a collaborative and talented team then a rewarding career with...
12.05.2016
Bachelor's If you are an energetic Speech Language Pathologist who enjoys being part of a collaborative and talented team then a rewarding career with Northeast Georgia Health System is where you want to be! Playing an integral role in this...
12.05.2016
Hebrew SeniorLife, the largest provider of elder care in the Boston area, is seeking a passionate adult Speech Language Pathologist to join its team of nine clinicians committed to cutting-edge, evidence-based practice. Enjoy a culture that...
12.05.2016
Provides services to patients ranging from the very young (newborn) to the elderly in order to prevent, assess, alleviate or correct communication, swallowing or other speech related disorders to both inpatients and outpatients. Responsible for...
12.05.2016
Masters Degree Required HIRING BONUS - $5000! The Speech-Language Pathologist provides inpatient and outpatient evaluation and treatment for speech and language disorders. Completes daily records of treatment sessions and maintains related...
12.05.2016
Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
12.06.2016
Care Site Description Description In this position, the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) assists patients in the treatment of disabilities such as chewing, swallowing, speech, comprehension, communications and memory loss with the...
12.05.2016
Must possess a Masters Degree in Communication Disorders or related field, a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), and licensed by the Board of Allied Health Professionals in...
  1. Speech Language Pathologist Hendersonville, NC Pardee Hospital
    The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...
  2. Speech Language Pathologist Hendersonville, NC Pardee Hospital
    The Speech Language Pathologist evaluates patients regarding the application of a wide variety of therapeutic techniques for rehabilitation of speech, language, hearing and oral motor disorders Minimum Qualifications: Master's degree in Speech...
  3. Speech & Language Pathologist Slidell, LA Slidell Memorial Hospital
    Under general supervision, the speech language pathologist will assess and treat individuals with a variety of communication, cognitive and swallowing disorders. Major Duties: Meets organizational expectations as defined by the Employee...
  4. Speech Language Pathologist Enid, OK St. Mary's Regional Medical Center
    St. Marys Regional Medical Center is not just a hospital. We are a team of healthcare professionals focused on developing the best culture of quality care for our patients. We proudly hold the 1st Quality Award given throughout all UHS facilities...
  5. Speech Language Pathologist St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    *This is a full-time Speech Language Pathologist position with our Home Health Department* This position will support adult and pediatric patients in both home care and hospice. Reviews treatment orders and appropriate medical records and...
  6. PRN Speech-Language Pathologist Livingston, MT Livingston HealthCare
    Livingston HealthCare Speech-Language Pathologist provides outpatient care, in-patient care subacute (swing bed) care, home health, school based and clinic based pediatric care. Additional services may include but are not limited to hearing...
  7. Speech Language Pathologist Enid, OK St. Mary's Regional Medical Center
    St. Marys Regional Medical Center is not just a hospital. We are a team of healthcare professionals focused on developing the best culture of quality care for our patients. We proudly hold the 1st Quality Award given throughout all UHS facilities...
  8. Speech Language Pathologist Therapist (SLP) Gainesville, GA Northeast Georgia Health System
    BCLS - Basic Cardiac Life Support SLP - Speech Language Pathologist 1 Year of Experience Required If you are an energetic Speech Language Pathologist who enjoys being part of a collaborative and talented team then a rewarding career with...
  9. Speech Language Pathologist Therapist (SLP) Gainesville, GA Northeast Georgia Health System
    Bachelor's If you are an energetic Speech Language Pathologist who enjoys being part of a collaborative and talented team then a rewarding career with Northeast Georgia Health System is where you want to be! Playing an integral role in this...
  10. Speech Language Pathologist-Per Diem Roslindale, MA Hebrew SeniorLife
    Hebrew SeniorLife, the largest provider of elder care in the Boston area, is seeking a passionate adult Speech Language Pathologist to join its team of nine clinicians committed to cutting-edge, evidence-based practice. Enjoy a culture that...
  11. Per Diem Speech Language Pathologist St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    Provides services to patients ranging from the very young (newborn) to the elderly in order to prevent, assess, alleviate or correct communication, swallowing or other speech related disorders to both inpatients and outpatients. Responsible for...
  12. $5000 Hiring Bonus Speech-Language Pathologist St. Cloud, MN CentraCare Health
    Masters Degree Required HIRING BONUS - $5000! The Speech-Language Pathologist provides inpatient and outpatient evaluation and treatment for speech and language disorders. Completes daily records of treatment sessions and maintains related...
  13. Speech Language Pathologist (Per Diem) (AFSCME) Boston, MA Boston Medical Center
    Boston Medical Center (BMC) is more than a hospital. Its a network of support and care that touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need each year. It is the largest and busiest provider of trauma and emergency services in New...
  14. Speech Language Pathologist - SLP - Traumatic Brain Injury Billings, MT St Vincent - SCL Health
    Care Site Description Description In this position, the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) assists patients in the treatment of disabilities such as chewing, swallowing, speech, comprehension, communications and memory loss with the...
  15. JML - Speech Language Pathologist Hyannis, MA Cape Cod Healthcare
    Must possess a Masters Degree in Communication Disorders or related field, a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), and licensed by the Board of Allied Health Professionals in...