Speech-language pathologists help their patient overcome difficulties as they relate to speech. These professionals, also known as speech therapists, are tasked with diagnosing and treating those with cognitive communication disorders. These disorders may affect the voice, swallowing ability of the patient, or their language. Speech-language pathologists commonly help those who cannot produce sounds clearly and those who may have speech rhythm problems such as stuttering, voice disorders, or inappropriate pitch. These speech or language disorders may be caused by a variety of different conditions which include developmental delay, stroke, brain injury or emotional problems.
Speech-language pathologists are responsible for crafting their patients course of care, which needs to be tailored to the patient’s individual needs. These professionals teach patients how to properly enunciate sounds, improve their voice quality, or increase their oral language skills. If customized courses of action aren’t sufficient to improve the language quality of their patients, then they may suggest alternative communication methods. These alternative communication methods may include sign language, or the use of assistant technology.
Speech-Language Pathologists Career Outlook
Speech-language pathology is a field that is expected to present favorable opportunities for job applicants, and have faster than average job growth. Growth in this field is expected to climb past nineteen percent over the next five or six years. This dramatic rise in job growth is due to the continued aging of elderly citizens which may cause a whole host of different neurological, language and associated speech disorders. Another reason for the rapid growth in this field is the improved survival rate of those suffering from strokes or other brain injuries, and the need for these individuals to be assessed and treated.*
The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is another prominent reason why job growth in this field is expected to be so high. This act guarantees individuals with special education needs the special services they need, particular school-age children. As a result, a lot of the employment growth in this field is going to be concentrated in elementary and secondary schools.*
One facet of this field that is expecting a decline however, are opportunities in nursing homes, hospitals and clinics. This is due to the fact that many insurance companies are restricting reimbursements for therapy services. This trend is expected to be short term problem as the initiatives put forth by the Health Care Reform Bill are put into place.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Work Environment For The Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech-language pathologists spend the majority of their day seated at a desk, in an medical or academic environment. When they are placed in health care setting, they may be required to work at the patient’s bedside or assist in positioning the patient. In an academic environment, they may work closely with students, either in the classroom or in the office.
The work that speech-language pathologists are expected to perform is not usually physically demanding, but it may require extensive attention to detail and a high degree of concentration. The speech-language pathologists must also be prepared to deal with the emotional needs of their patients and their families. Eighty percent of speech-language pathologist who work in the United States, work on a full-time basis. The other twenty percent worked under thirty-five hours per week.
Speech-language Pathology Training
The majority of speech-language pathology jobs in the United States require a master’s degree. The courses that a potential speech-language pathologist is expected to take include physiology, anatomy, language development, neurological disorders, psychology and the principles of acoustics. Students are also expected to take specialized courses which cover the nature of swallowing, speech and language disorders. Students are also required to work an understudy in a clinical situation.
Speech-language pathology Certification
Almost every State in the United States require speech-language pathologists to have obtained a license. The requirements for obtaining a license usually requires the student to have a master’s degree from an accredited university, a passing grade on the national examination on speech pathology, three hundred hours of supervised clinical experience, and nine months of postgraduate clinical experience. In order to maintain certification, a speech-language pathologists must take continued education courses every two years.
Salary for Speech-Language Pathologists
Those students which have just graduated and are just entering the job market can expect a salary of less than $41,000 per year. Median annual wages for speech-language pathologists are around $63,925 per year. The average salary for these professionals is around $69,620 per year. Speech-language pathologists which have a considerable amount of experience can make over $100,000 per year.*
Median wages are also determined by the geographic location of the speech-language pathologist, as well as the type of facility they are employed. Top earning positions in this field are usually at private nursing care facilities, home health care centers or surgical hospitals. The lowest earning positions are usually in the offices of health care practitioners and elementary schools.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Most speech-language pathologists receive benefits from their employers. These benefits include retirement insurance, health insurance, holiday pay, vacation pay and reimbursements for continued education credits.
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