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.
What they do:
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.
On the job, you would:
Evaluate hearing or speech and language test results, barium swallow results, or medical or background information to diagnose and plan treatment for speech, language, fluency, voice, or swallowing disorders.
Write reports and maintain proper documentation of information, such as client Medicaid or billing records or caseload activities, including the initial evaluation, treatment, progress, and discharge of clients.
Monitor patients' progress and adjust treatments accordingly.
Arts and Humanities
Education and Training
teaching and course design
Math and Science
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
reading work related information
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
understanding people's reactions
teaching people how to do something
listen and understand what people say
communicate by speaking
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
notice when problems happen
Hearing and Speech
recognize spoken words
see hidden patterns
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
Concern for Others
You might use software like this on the job:
Desktop communications software
Micro Video Voice Speech Training System
master's degree or certificate after master's usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.