I believe that speech pathology is a very valuable profession. It reaches people from all walks of life and spans across every age. Communication and language are big parts of the world and relationships in the world. My mom is a speech pathologist, and I have grown up watching her work and listening to her discuss the aspects of her job. She thoroughly enjoys her job and has been working in the profession for thirty years. She has made many contacts within the state—from teachers to psychologists to parents to other SLPs. I have had the honor of personally seeing how speech and language influences family relationships and the individuals.
Drawbacks of the career would include working with children and people with severe behavioral or mental/emotional problems. Even these drawbacks are somewhat a part of the job though. Another drawback of the career is that one needs a master’s degree to work as an SLP. Slots to get into the master’s program and much fewer than those to get into the undergraduate degree, so there’s a lot of people with undergraduate degrees that can’t get into the master’s program. Another drawback could possibly be salary, depending on the person/family, but that’s a more subjective drawback. Dealing with difficult people and having to be a certain level of sociable could also be a drawback, but yet again, that is subjective.
According to a recent article in ASHA’s The Leader by the U.S News and World Report, speech pathology made the top 100 jobs and snagged the 28th spot. When ranked among healthcare jobs, speech pathology climbed eight spots. The report also says the following: “The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 28,900 SLP jobs will open before 2024…cites SLPs’ median salary at $73,410, and their unemployment rate at 1.8 percent (June 2017).”
Benefits of this career usually include sick leave, paid vacation time, and retirement plans. If one was to work with a school district, an SLP can also obtain medical insurance through them, sometimes for a nominal cost. Another more psychological benefit is the ability to socialize with others throughout the job, and valuable lessons about dealing with people are learned throughout this job. The outlook for this career could be counted as another benefit, with predicted growth of nineteen percent between 2012 and 2022 according to ASHA’s The Leader (Nov. 2014). This growth is made possible by the number of baby boomers that will need speech and motor help as they age. Another benefit is that speech pathology is very flexible; one may work from a private practice, at a school, in a hospital, etc. Salaries for SLPs in healthcare are also on the rise according to ASHA’s The Leader. In 2011, the overall median full-time salary of an SLP in health care was $70,000, and in 2013, this number had advanced to $75,000 (Oct. 2013).
What speech pathology encompasses is also broadening, with people starting to specialize in certain aspects of the career. Early intervention is another area of expertise that SLPs can work in. Since 2005, the percent of ASHA-certified SLPs with early intervention expertise has grown by nine percent. These SLPs mainly work in the schools (over half do), but over a quarter of them work in nonresidential health care facilities (ASHA, Feb. 2014)
Speech pathologists can work with pretty much anyone with speech, hearing, and/or communication difficulties. Speech pathologists can inform parents with a baby with a cleft palate on how to feed the child. Children who need help articulating can receive speech help through their school. Speech pathologists can help stroke patients who need help speaking and elderly people who need help swallowing. “I can work with people from birth until they die (S. Britton, personal communication, January 28, 2018).” They also work with developmentally delayed students, children with mental retardation, and kids on the autism spectrum.
In the school, speech pathologists work hand-in-hand with teachers, parents/families, school administration, special education teachers, psychometrists, psychologists, etc. Working with these people ensures that the child (or patient) is getting the care that he or she needs. If a teacher refers a child for speech therapy, committees consisting of these people meet to decide whether a certain child needs to be tested for speech impairment and whether the child needs speech therapy.
As an SLP, one may work almost anywhere. Since communication difficulties are so broad and span over any age or person, one may find a speech pathologist anywhere from a hospital to a school. Speech pathologists can also privately practice from the comfort of their home or travel. While most speech therapists work in schools, it is not uncommon to see them in nursing homes for the elderly or in pediatric hospitals.
After completing a master’s degree, one may be eligible to apply for ASHA certification. ASHA is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. ASHA certification is somewhat the same as a teacher being National Board certified. ASHA certified SLPs also get $6,000 more a year than regular, uncertified SLPs (S. Britton, personal communication, Jan. 28, 2018). In order to become ASHA certified, one must have a master’s or doctoral degree in speech pathology, have completed all the graduate coursework and clinical experience in a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), and have demonstrated superb skill in all aspects of speech therapy. One must also pass the Praxis Examination in Speech-Language Pathology and undergo a clinical fellowship in speech pathology. After receiving certification, one must take steps to retain it. “Individuals who hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) must accumulate 30 certification maintenance hours of professional development during every 3-year maintenance interval (ASHA, 2016).”
In order to supply speech therapy in the school systems, SLPs in Mississippi must obtain Mississippi Department of Education certification. In order to privately practice or work in hospitals, SLPs are required to have
The job of a speech pathologist requires a high school diploma, an undergraduate degree that fulfills all the prerequisites of the master’s degree, and a master’s degree in speech pathology. Since there is such a need for SLPs in some states, some speech pathologists are allowed to practice with a B.S. degree, but only if they practice under a master’s level therapist. Speech pathologists that practice with a B.S. degree are only allowed to work on articulation, or helping the patient speak more clearly or correctly.
A speech pathologist assists those who have communication difficulties. Speech pathologists in schools test children for speech impairment, set a plan to help overcome his or her speech impediments, and work with the child to overcome it. Speech pathologists can test vision, screen hearing, and also give developmental tests (S. Britton, personal communication, Jan. 28, 2018). In the actual therapy part, speech pathologists may help the patient with articulation or language or speaking. They go through sets of exercises with the patient that helps the patient produce the sounds clearly and correctly. A broad range of tools—flashcards, games, or speech applications on an iPad—can be used to help people with speech impediments.
The career of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is very hands-on career and is based on helping others communicate better. SLPs work with a broad range of people with speech-language, hearing, and communication difficulties. SLPs can work with all ages, from little babies with a cleft palate to an elderly adult having motor and swallowing problems. SLPs can also work in a myriad of places including, but not limited to, hospitals and schools. Their jobs are very important since the world is quite communication oriented.