Speech Therapist Career Guide

Career Overview

The importance of speech therapy can only truly be understood by people who have suffered from speech related disorders. For them, a speech therapist is something of a miracle-worker who works to bring about positive changes into their lives by manipulating how they communicate verbally. Speech pathologists treat people with various speech disorders, such as a lack of ability to produce specific sounds, voice disorders, incorrect speech rhythm, and obvious fluency issues. These experts also assist people in modifying their accents and addressing swallowing difficulties that might have occurred due to a defect or injury. If you have a gift for language and a natural talent for helping others, speech therapy might be the perfect career for you.

The work of a speech therapist is quite interesting and challenging at the same time. It includes assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of people with speech disorders or impediments. Speech therapists help people of all ages cope with and potentially overcome communication and language problems so that they can communicate easily and effectively with others. Armed with specialized skills, they can teach those with stammering problems to gradually improve their speech, while they can also help patients suffering from swallowing problems which could negatively affect their physical health. Whatever the ailment, speech therapists provide the utmost care, support, and respect for their patients to help them work through an issue to the best of that patient’s ability.

Job Outlook

Speech therapists work closely with healthcare professionals and teachers. They most often operate as part of an interdisciplinary team of related health professionals, such as physiotherapists and psychologists. Outside of the health field, they also create and explain treatment plans to those close to the patients, usually family, teachers, friends, and others.

Speech therapy is a quickly growing field with an expected growth rate of 23% through the year 2020. This already places it among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, but it grows even faster when taking into account the dire need for bilingual therapists. Those who speak both English and Spanish are most in demand, particularly in places with substantial Spanish-speaking populations like the Southwest, California, Florida, and New York City, but any additional language skills will make a potential employee stand out from other applicants.

Most speech therapists work in hospitals, healthcare facilities, private clinics, and schools. However, where you work as a therapist depends primarily on your training, experience, and geographical location.

Salary Outlook

Actual salaries can vary widely based on experience, education, and location. According to a June 2012 report, average yearly salaries for speech therapists ranged from $35,504 to$73,217 (payscale.com).

Educational Requirements

The first step to becoming a speech therapist is to attain a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. While this might be sufficient for an entry-level position, most employers seek candidates holding at least a master’s degree and a professional license.

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