Speech-Language Pathologists Career Video
Description: Assess and treat persons with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. May select alternative communication systems and teach their use. May perform research related to speech and language problems.
What might a second grader with a lisp and an elderly person recovering from a stroke share in common? They both may need the services of a speech-language pathologist to improve their ability to speak and to pronounce words clearly. Speech-language pathologists —sometimes called speech therapists— diagnose and treat communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults who may be unable to speak, or have rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering. Speech-language pathologists evaluate the specifics of speech, language, or swallowing problems. Then speech therapists develop an individualized treatment plan to address functional needs— from pronunciation issues or harsh tones to improving vocabulary and sentence structure. Speech-language pathologists also guide patients through exercises that strengthen or develop the muscles used to swallow. They counsel patients and their families on coping with the patient’s condition. Most speech-language pathologists work full time, though a number of positions are part time. Most work in schools— where it’s typical to travel between schools during the week— or in healthcare facilities. Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree, including supervised clinical experience. Specific coursework —but not a particular college major— may be required to enter a graduate program. All states require credentialing for speech-language pathologists— either licensure or registration, depending on the state.