Speech pathologists work with patients to diagnose and treat communication disorders. These disorders can include stuttering, social communication disorders, auditory processing disorders and swallowing disorders. They do important work to treat disorders affecting people of all ages.
A master’s degree in speech pathology is the minimum requirement to become a speech pathologist. An undergraduate degree in biological sciences, physical sciences or behavioral sciences is the best way to prepare yourself for a master’s degree in speech pathology. A master’s degree will typically take you an additional two years to complete after your undergraduate degree.
Over the course of your master’s, you can expect to take classes in speech science, audiology and communication disorders. You will also be required to complete a certain number of clinical hours.
If you wish to become a speech pathology professor or researcher in the future, then you should consider completing a doctorate. A doctorate in speech pathology takes most people another four years to complete after graduate school. Your doctorate will comprise mostly of independent research and a dissertation.
A speech pathologist diagnoses speech disorders and provides treatment. This often involves ongoing therapy with patients. Speech pathologists also need to be able to teach patients’ family members therapeutic techniques to be used at home in order to further help the patient. For patients with severe disorders, a speech pathologist can provide the patient with alternative communication systems. Some speech pathologists will also work with people without a diagnosed speech disorder, but who want to enhance their communication skills.
Salary and Job Outlook
On average, speech pathologists earn $69,870 per year, or $33.59 per hour as of 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The field is expected to grow by 19 percent over the next decade.
For more information on this career path, take Next Step Academy’s “Careers in Speech Pathology” course!