Not all of us are blessed with having a job that we actually enjoy. However, those who are fortunate enough to challenge themselves can take their education a step further and greatly expand their opportunities while working in a satisfying occupation.
According to a compilation done by CNN.com in 2011 of the top 100 jobs in America, Speech Language Pathologists ranked at number 44 with regards to factors such as personal satisfaction, stress levels, etc. For those interested in pursuing a career in speech therapy, this is certainly encouraging.
Here are some of the grade ratings broken down into specific areas:
Personal Satisfaction: A
Job Security: B
Future growth: A
Benefit to society: A
Low stress: C
Of course, these ratings are only averages and are not definitive as results vary depending on the actual location and health settings whether it is a school or a nursing facility. What’s interesting to note about this profession is the sheer demand for it in the coming decade.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this field is expected to grow a whopping 19% between 2008 and 2018 alone. The average speech pathologist salary is about $71,000 and increases with experience.
This type of career is one that focuses heavily towards helping those with speech disorders and providing them with a treatment plan to get them on the right track. As such, it is not surprising that many speech language pathologists have rated personal satisfaction at an A level.
The stress level is quite interesting though as this profession has received an average C level. When you really stop to think about it, it makes sense though as you are constantly dealing with patients that have speaking or communication disorders.
It can also be rather frustrating when a certain patient is not improving as much as you would like or if you are simply overwhelmed with too many patients.
Speech and language pathology work settings
Those who work in speech language pathology can work in a variety of settings but more than 50% end up being employed in a school setting. However, there are also those speech therapists that work in clinical environments such as public and private hospitals. Which one you choose ultimately comes down to your preference and the overall direction that you see yourself going towards.
If you so choose, there is even the opportunity to conduct research that relates to communication disorders. In addition, you can also work as a supervisor where you essentially train and mentor future speech language pathologists.
What you can expect as a speech therapist
As a speech pathologist, you might be wondering exactly what you’ll be doing. Here’s just a few things that you are expected to do:
- Use a range of tests to diagnose the extent of the speech disorder
- Custom tailor a plan to meet the patient’s needs
- Teach communication methods, including sign language, to individuals with little speech capability
- Work on improving language, voice and communication skills for patients
- Assistant a range of patients, both adult and children, with their speaking or swallowing ability
And here are just some of the kinds of people that you will be working with:
- Children and adults with stuttering problems
- People unable to pronounce certain sounds
- Those with inappropriate pitch or harsh voices
- Those with difficulty communicating fluently
- People who may want to work on improving or changing their accents
- People with attention, memory or cognitive impairments
- Those who have trouble with eating or swallowing
- Those who simply wish to improve their speech
Speech language pathologist certifications
If you think that working as a speech language therapist is something that you would be interested in then the next step is to find out what the next steps are to becoming one. A master’s degree is typically required and is what most pathologists have, however different states have different requirements.
The Council on Academic Accreditation, from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is the institution which offers accredited programs for future speech pathologists. Some states require certification from these programs in order to practice.
As of 2009, there are only about 240 universities which offer graduate programs, although this number is expected to rise as demand increases. These courses cover more in detail on specific areas of speech including speech development, physiology, anatomy, acoustics and even the psychological side of communication.
So here’s what you will essentially need:
- A master’s degree from an accredited university
- A passing score on the national examination for speech pathology
- Between 300 to 375 hours of clinical experience
- May need additional education to renew your license
Again, these requirements vary by state. The certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), although completely voluntary, is a good idea to get since it actually meets the requirements that some states have.
If you are interesting in seeking a speech therapist career then you need to get the appropriate speech pathologist certification. For this, you will need to attend an accredited university and have 400 hours of supervision. Then you will need to pass the examination from Praxis Series before you can actually go into the field.
As you start to gain more experience and knowledge into this field then you can always opt to continue your education so as to specialize. For example, you can get trained to work specifically with certain age groups or with disorders such as aphasia. For those who so choose, experienced speech language pathologists can even become mentors or work in administrative positions.
If it sounds like a lot of working getting into this field, that’s because it is. Before you decide to put this much time and effort it is important to consider all the pros and cons of working as a speech therapist.
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