Speech-language pathology is a branch of clinical health care that focuses on communication disorders. Speech pathologists help people who have problems such as stuttering, Parkinson’s disease, or autism overcome their challenges in speaking and communicating effectively. They also help patients with swallowing difficulties due to aging or cancer treatment and work with people who have hearing loss.
What Is Speech-Language Pathology?
Speech-language pathology is the study of how people communicate. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work with children and adults who have problems with speech, language, or swallowing. SLPs help people who have trouble speaking fluently or pronouncing words correctly, who stutter when they talk, or who can’t understand what others say to them. They also work with people with hearing loss or other communication disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
SLPs treat people of all ages including newborns through geriatric patients in a variety of settings such as hospitals and clinics; schools for children; nursing homes for elderly patients; correctional institutions for rehabilitation programs; private practices that serve individuals from various ethnic backgrounds/cultures as well as those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Steps to Becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist
- Complete undergraduate studies. Speech-language pathologists need a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders or speech pathology, which typically takes four years to complete.
- Take graduate coursework. Speech-language pathologists need to complete two years of graduate coursework, which includes clinical practicum experiences. Pass the Praxis exam.
- Pass the National Board for Certification of Speech-Language Pathology exam after completing your graduate studies; this exam assesses professional skills needed by SLPs to diagnose and treat language disorders in children and adults across various settings (e.g., schools, and hospitals). If you don’t pass on your first try but have received significant training outside of university courses before taking it again—such as through internships—you may still be able to apply for licensure with A
- Get a job. After graduating from a bachelor’s or master’s program, you can apply for jobs with speech-language pathologists in hospitals, clinics, and schools. If you don’t have experience treating patients directly (e.g., through an internship), look for entry-level positions such as the office or school secretary, or research assistant at a university.
What Does a Speech Pathologist Do?
A speech pathologist is a healthcare professional who helps people with speech and language disorders. Speech pathologists diagnose and treat communication problems, including those that affect the way we speak, listen, understand speech, read or write.
Speech-language pathology services are provided by a variety of professionals, including:
- Speech-language pathologists (SLPs)
- Respiratory therapists
Types of Speech Pathologists
Speech-language pathology programs include coursework on the anatomy and physiology of language, childhood development, cognitive processes such as attention and memory, language assessment including standardized testing procedures, treatment planning methods, and evaluation strategies for identifying problems that affect communication skills between individuals or groups of people who interact regularly with each other so they can communicate clearly without misunderstandings occurring often (usually because one party doesn’t know what has happened before).
There are several different kinds of speech pathologists, each with their own expertise in a specific area of speech pathology.
Audiologists work with people who have hearing loss or other problems with their ears that affect their ability to hear sounds correctly. They may also treat people who have balance problems or dizziness related to sound.
Clinical linguists specialize in the study of language disorders. They’re often consulted by other professionals in the field to help them understand how a patient’s language skills work and what might be causing any issues they’re experiencing.
In addition to these two types of specialists, there are also many generalist positions available for those looking for a job as a speech-language pathologist that doesn’t require any additional training beyond an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders (CSD).
Is Speech-Language Pathology Right for You?
Speech-language pathology is a field that’s growing in demand, and it might be the perfect fit for you. There are many benefits to becoming a speech-language pathologist including:
- Flexibility with work hours: You can set your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. This makes it ideal for people who have other obligations such as family or school.
- Variety of settings: You’ll have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, clinics, and long-term care facilities.
- Job satisfaction: You’ll be helping people every day which will give you a sense of purpose while doing work you enjoy!
The Bottom Line
We hope that you’ve found this article helpful and informative. If you’re interested in becoming a speech pathologist, we encourage you to consider all of your options before making any final decisions. There are many career paths out there for those who want to help others with speech or language disorders!