- Speech pathologists, officially called speech-language pathologists and sometimes called speech therapists, work with people who have a variety of speech-related disorders. These disorders can include the inability to produce certain sounds, speech rhythm and fluency problems, and voice disorders. They also help people who want to modify accents or who have swallowing difficulties. Speech pathologists’ work involves assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of speech-related disorders.
- Speech pathologists held about 119,000 jobs in 2008. Approximately half of these jobs were in schools, including pre-schools and elementary and secondary schools. Other speech pathologists worked in hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, including speech-language pathologists, nursing care facilities, home health care services, individual and family services, outpatient care centers and child day care services. Some speech pathologists were self-employed.
- In most states one must have a master’s degree in speech-language pathology to work as a speech pathologist. Some states will only license speech pathologists who have graduated from a program that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Coursework includes anatomy,physiology, the nature of disorders and the principles of acoustics. Graduate students receive supervised clinical training.
Speech Pathologist’s Life
On a typical day a speech pathologist will:
- use written and oral tests, as well as special instruments, to diagnose the nature and extent of impairment and to record and analyze speech, language, and swallowing irregularities;
- develop an individualized plan of care tailored to each patient’s needs;
- select augmentative or alternative communication methods, including automated devices and sign language, and teach their use to individuals with little or no speech capability;
- teach those with little or no speech capability how to make sounds, improve their voices, or increase their language skills to communicate more effectively;
- help patients who have suffered loss of speech develop, or recover, reliable communication skills so patients can fulfill their educational, vocational, and social roles