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Speech Therapist


How to Become a Speech Therapist
Speech Therapist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Speech Therapist
Speech Therapist Salary
Influential Speech Therapists
Leading Organizations for Speech Therapists
Top Cities for Speech Therapy Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Speech Therapist

Speech therapists, also known as 'speech-language pathologists', assess, diagnose and treat speech-related disorders, including those which deal with language, voice and cognitive communication.

A degree is the first step; more than 200 colleges and universities offer accredited speech-language pathology and accompanying audiology degree programs for the interested student. Courses will cover physiology, anatomy and physical development in those areas of the body related to speech and language, and students will receive clinical training in dealing with various disorders relating to speech and language.

After the proper education is obtained, most potential speech therapists will need to seek a license to treat patients, as well as a certificate to demonstrate their competency in the field. License and certification requirements for potential speech therapists vary from state to state, with most requiring a passing score on the Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Services.

Along with a successful score on the PSETS, potential speech therapists will need to have roughly three-hundred and seventy-five hours of supervised clinical experience as well as nine additional months of postgraduate professional experience.

In some states, however, a potential speech therapist will need also need to acquire the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCCSLP for short) to meet the requirements for a license to practice speech therapy. The CCCSLP is offered by the American Speech Language Hearing Association and can be earned through having a graduate degree from an accredited university as well as 400 hours of clinical experience and a complete thirty-six week postgraduate clinical fellowship.

What does a Speech Therapist do?

Speech therapists treat various speech, language and voice related physiological disorders. They also research ways of preventing such disorders from occurring in the first place. Most are employed by health care and social assistance facilities where they will perform their job in conjunction with doctors, social workers, psychologists and other speech therapists. Others work in educational services where they work alongside teachers and other school personnel, as well as parents, to develop and implement care programs and provide counseling.

A speech therapist works with those who cannot produce the sounds needed for speech clearly or at all. They use special instruments and assessment methods, including standardized tests, to analyze the nature of impairments as well as the extent of the disorder. Then, after a diagnosis has been made, the speech therapist will develop a treatment plan tailored for the specific individual for whom it is intended.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Speech Therapist?

The ideal speech therapist should be an effective communicator, capable of explaining a diagnosis or potential treatment clearly to a patient or his or her family. They must also be able to think outside the box and approach problems objectively, with the best interests of the patient as paramount. Patience, compassion and excellent listening skills are a must for a Speech Therapist.

Also, as immigration to the US continues to increase, those with the ability to speak a second language, especially Spanish, will find themselves readily hired.

How much does a Speech Therapist make?

Median annual earnings of the average speech therapist were $57,710, according to the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey Program (OES) for 2006. The middle percentile earned between $46,360 and $72,410, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,970. The highest 10 percent earned more than $90,400.

In general, those working at nursing care facilities earn the most, general medical practitioners come somewhere in the middle, and those working for educational facilities earn the least. But, even a low-paid speech therapist earns significantly more than the national average in regards to yearly income.

Some speech therapists have private practices. They contract out to schools, medical physicians, hospitals or nursing care facilities as well as take on private cases. They also work as consultants in industry.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Caroline Bowen, PhD, CPSP, is renowned for presenting numerous articles and workshops throughout the world on the subject of speech-language pathology. She is currently writing a book (Children's Speech Sound Disorders) for pediatric clinicians and clinical educators.

Tricia Zebrowski, a University of Iowa Associate Professor of Speech Pathology, is well-known for her work with stutterers. So much so that she was hired in 1996 by the Stuttering Foundation. The Stuttering Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people who stutter. Zebrowski was hired to share her research throughout the field.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

There are several notable organizations dedicated to the field of speech therapy. The largest, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, is the professional association for more than 130,000 accredited speech therapists, audiologists and speech, language and hearing scientists in the United States and internationally.

There is also the National Center for Voice and Speech, which was organized in 1990 on the premise that NCVS members, although geographically separate, were linked by a common desire in the field of speech therapy. Cohesiveness is maintained by exploiting contemporary communications technology, training responsibilities, periodic global conferences and the shared resources of several institutions of higher learning.

Across the Atlantic, The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists is the UK's leading speech therapy association. It was formed to represent speech therapists, promote excellence and influence education and social care policies.

What are the top cities for Speech Therapy jobs?

Job prospects for speech therapists grow with every new medical or technological discovery made. The employment rate is expected to grow by 11 percent from 2006 to 2016, according to the US Department of Labor.

The combination of growth in the occupation and an expected increase in retirement over the coming years, as baby-boomers continue to age, will lead to excellent opportunities for speech therapists, especially those willing to relocate.

Las Vegas, Nevada looks to be the top city in the United States for speech therapy jobs, with Danbury, Connecticut coming in a close second and Scranton, Pennsylvania coming in third, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

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