Learn How to Become a Speech Therapist
Discover speech-language therapy and pathology training and careers.
Speech-language pathologists, often referred to as a speech therapist, evaluate and treat children and adults with speech and language problems.
They help children and adolescents with language disorders to understand and give directions, convey ideas and improve language skills that lead to better academic performance.
And they evaluate and treat people with swallowing disorders that may result from various types of causes, including the following:
- Hearing loss
- Stroke or brain injury
- Accidents and injuries
- Cerebral palsy or other afflictions, such as a cleft palate
Speech Therapist Job Description
Speech-language pathologists can work alone, or with rehab teams to co-treat patients with other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists. Typical speech-language pathologist duties may include the following:
- Working with children to improve their language skills and their academic performance
- Treating people who have experienced a stroke or brain trauma to help them regain language, speech and swallowing ability
- Assisting individuals in developing proper control of the vocal and respiratory systems for correct voice production
- Counseling individuals and families to better cope with speech and language disorders
- Helping those who stutter to increase fluency
- Assisting with accent modification for non-native speakers of English
Speech Therapist Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for speech language pathologists is $80,480, with the top 10% earning more than $122,790 per year.
Speech Therapist Work Environment
Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow at a rate of 25%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2029.
Federal legislation mandates the presence of speech, language and hearing professionals in public schools. Also, a steady rise in the number of older adults with language, speech and hearing problems is increasing the demand for the services of speech-language pathologists and audiologists.
As an experienced speech-language pathologist, you’ll be able to work in a variety of settings, including the following:
- Hospitals and rehabilitation centers
- Private practice
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Colleges and universities
- State and local health departments
- Home health agencies
- Long-term facilities
- Private industry nonprofit clinics
Speech-language therapists and pathologists often work with doctors, social workers and psychologists, while others elect to help school systems by coordinating with teachers, administrators and parents to provide individual and group counseling and support, either inside or outside of the classroom.Speech Therapist Education and Training
Speech Therapist Education and Training
To become a speech-language pathologist, you can earn a bachelor’s in communication sciences and disorders or a related discipline and then enter a graduate program in speech-language pathology. If you didn’t take general communication sciences and disorders coursework during your undergraduate years, you can enter a one- to two-year post-baccalaureate program to complete the required prerequisites for graduate school.
In order to practice as a speech-language pathologist, you must complete a two-year master’s (or, in rare cases, a four-year doctoral program in speech-language pathology (SLP.D.). The PhD in speech-language pathology is typically acquired for in-depth research into a particular area of interest.
Many speech-language pathologists join a union, such as the state teachers association in which they practice.
Speech Therapist Certification
Speech-language pathologists can acquire the nationally recognized Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which demonstrates your achievement of excellence within the field. To earn a CCC-SLP, a person must have a graduate degree and 400 hours of supervised clinical experience (25 hours in clinical observation and 375 hours spent in direct patient contact), complete a 36-week postgraduate clinical fellowship, and pass the Praxis examination.