Speech-Language Pathology Basics

4195246401_1188f5c02e_zPhoto CC- By EasyStand

This week I am going to talk about the basics of Speech Pathology. What it is, how to become one, work environment, pay, and job outlook. Some of this may be repeated information from last week.

What They Do

Speech-Language Pathologist assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients. They work with patients who have cognitive or social communication problems. Their patients may be mute, they may speak with difficulty, or have rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering. They also work with people who are unable to understand language or have voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or a harsh voice. These disorders may arise from strokes, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, Parkinson’s disease, a cleft palate, or Autism.

Some of their duties entail evaluating the patients’ levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty, identifying treatment options and carrying out a personalized treatment plan. They also work with patients to improve their voice and strengthen the muscles used to swallow. They counsel patients and their families on how to cope with their specific disorders. Finally, Speech Pathologists also complete administrative tasks such as keeping accurate records. The records hold initial patient evaluations and diagnoses, track treatment progress, and note any changes in a patient’s condition or treatment plan.

How to become a SLP

To become a SLP  you will need a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. The bachelor’s degree that would go along with the master’s degree is Communication Disorders, however, this particular undergraduate degree is not required for admission. Still, certain courses must be taken before entering the program and required courses may vary by institution. If the specific bachelor’s degree of Communication Disorders was not earned previously, it may take someone with, for example, a bachelor’s in Elementary Education a little longer to complete their master’s degree.

Graduate programs often include courses in speech and language development, age-specific speech disorders, alternative communication methods, and swallowing disorders. These programs also include supervised clinical experience. In most states the student must graduate form an accredited program to receive a license. The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) accredits the programs and then the SLP can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This certification satisfies some or all of the requirements for state licensure and may be required by some employers.

Speech-language pathologists who work in schools may need a specific teaching certification depending on the state; this is where the Elementary Ed. degree may come in handy, you will already have the teaching certification. Depending on the state’s requirements, of course.

8186728116_fb0c5f5f2e_z Photo CC- By Marquette University

Work Environment and Pay

The work environment of a Speech-Language Pathologist can vary, and at times is all over the place. They have the options to work in educational services, hospitals, and nursing home and residential facilities, as well as offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists. They can also have their own practice.

In May, 2015 the median annual wage for SLPs was $76,900 with the mean hourly wage being $36.97. Keep in mind that location and institution always has an impact on wage. In 2015 there were around 131,450 SLP positions held throughout the nation with an increasing need for more positions and qualified SLPs.

Job Outlook

There is a estimated 21% increased need from 2014-2024 for Speech-Language Pathologist. This need is due to the baby-boom population growing older, increased awareness of speech and language disorders, Autism and premature infants as well as trauma and stroke victims. SLPs are needed to help improve these patient’s ability to communicate and socialize effectively, and to be able to do it with their own personalized plan.

I see no shortage of positions of my dream job in the near future! It seems they are finding more positions for this profession than they have employees to cover them. It makes me confident in my choice! Now, let’s see if I actually make it to that career!


Bureau of Labor Statistics Speech-Language Pathologists 

Occupational Employment Statistics  








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