Speech-Language Pathology as a Profession
Who are Speech-Language Pathologists?
Speech-Language Pathologists are professionals educated in the study of human communication, its developments, and its disorders. By evaluating the speech, language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing skills of children and adults, the speech-language pathologist determines what communication or swallowing problems exist and the best way to treat them.
Why do people choose to be a Speech-Language Pathologist?
Listen to the stories of some of ASHA’s professionals...
“I always felt the need to help other people . . . Speech-Language pathology offers a wide range of experiences and employment opportunities. It is rewarding to touch the lives of children and positively affect their future.” -- Tommie Robinson.
“I was drawn to speech-language pathology because I wanted to help individuals with special needs, to provide a valuable service to the community, and to work as an independent professional. I’m rewarded by gratitude of families and, as a clinical instructor, by the development of skills in my bilingual students. The rewards multiply exponentially!” -- Vera F. Gutierrez-Clellen.
What is ASHA?
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the professional organization and the accrediting body for certification in the profession. More about the profession can be learned through the ASHA web site at: http://www.asha.org
What is CCC?
To practice as a speech-language pathologist you must hold ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), which is required in most states for licensure as an audiologist or speech-language pathologist. To obtain your CCCs, you must have a graduate degree (master’s level or doctorate) in speech-language pathology; audiology; speech, language, and hearing science; or an allied discipline, complete required clinical experiences and obtain a passing score on the PRAXIS, a national examination.
If you are an undergraduate and are planning to continue on to graduate school in speech-language pathology, audiology, or speech, language and hearing science, you may want to look into undergraduate programs in communication sciences and disorders. The University of Toledo has both an undergraduate and a graduate program in speech-language pathology. After completing your graduate program at UT, you will be eligible to apply for certification and/or licensure.
What are the entry requirements for a career in the communication sciences?
To enter as an undergraduate student, you should have good grades, strong writing and oral speaking skills, an interest in science, and a desire to work with individuals with disabilities. As an undergraduate, a strong liberal arts focus is important —typically students obtain a degree in communication disorders. Graduate work is a necessary part of the preparation for ASHA certification and a master’s is the entry degree in most work settings. A Ph.D. is often required for teaching and research positions.
What is a typical salary for a Speech-Language pathologist?
Salaries vary depending on the geographic area and the type of facility. The median salary for a new ASHA certified SLP (1-3 years of experience) is around $58,000 (ASHA, 2011).Those with additional experience and those in supervisory positions can earn higher salaries. In addition, fringe benefits are usually very good.
What is the job market for Speech-Language pathologists?
The U.S. Department of Labor states that employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow rapidly because the expanding population in older age groups is prone to medical conditions that result in speech, language, and swallowing problems. Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow at a rate of 23% through the year 2020. Members of the baby boom generation are now entering middle age. Medical advances are also improving the survival rate of premature infants and trauma and stroke victims. Employment in educational services will increase along with growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students.
Where do Speech-Language Pathologists work?
About half of speech-language pathologists work in schools, others are employed in hospitals, healthcare, nursing homes, and social assistance agencies.
Here are some examples of potential work settings:
- Educational Settings: You may provide services at every age level; teach students with language-learning disorders; work with children with severe and/or multiple disabilities; conduct screenings and diagnostic evaluations; develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs).
- Health Care Settings: You may work at an acute care, rehabilitation, or psychiatric facility; diagnose and treat a broad range of communication disorders; treat patients with swallowing problems; design rehabilitation programs; or provide counseling to patients and their families.
- Research Settings: All speech-language pathologists are consumers of research. Speech-language pathology is a science-based profession and, thus, requires an expanding knowledge base from which new diagnostic and therapeutic methods may be derived. Clinical practice changes and evolves in part because of new knowledge gained through research. You may want to enter the field of research if you are interested in adding to the growing body of knowledge concerning normal and disordered processes of speech production and language.
- Private Practice: You can also work in a private practice as the owner or as an employee delivering speech and language services to the community. ASHA has developed materials to assist speech-language pathologists interested in private practice.
- Community Speech and Hearing Clinics: You may be employed in a community clinic providing services to individuals with communication disorders on site, at home, or at other facilities.
- State Educational and Mental Health Agencies: Some are employed by the state to serve special populations including those in juvenile facilities, prisons, or state institutions as well as persons with other physical or mental disorders.
Will jobs in Speech-Language Pathology continue to be available?
The future of the job market in communication sciences and disorders appears excellent. Greater public awareness of early diagnosis of speech, language, and hearing disorders, an aging population, and concern over occupationally induced hearing disorders, among other factors, combine to paint a bright future for the professions.
Indicators for the Growing Need for Speech-Language Pathologists:
- Greater success in the use of life-saving measures at birth of children with potential for communication disorders and prosthetic and augmentative communication devices. Dramatic increases in referrals of preschool and school age children for speech, language and hearing services.
- Children in the U.S. demographics —growing population. Larger bilingual populations: It is estimated that more than 5 million individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have a speech, language, or hearing disability.
- Greater emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. National public health policy agenda for early identification and diagnosis of hearing disorders in infants and toddlers.
- Greater emphasis on rehabilitation priorities as a result of increased numbers of young adults with closed-head injuries and the "graying of America." Passage of federal laws and regulations addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities.
- Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA 1997)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as Amended by the Rehabilitation Act of 1984
- Health Professions Act —Title VII of the Public Health Service Act
- Disadvantaged Minority Health Improvement Act
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Continuous promotional and awareness efforts by ASHA
Where can I learn more about the profession?
Additional information about the Speech-Language Pathology profession can be found at: http://www.asha.org
Who can I contact at The University of Toledo to learn more about the profession?
Dr. Rodney Gabel, Program Director
Dr. Stephanie Hughes, Undergraduate Coordinator