How You Can Become a Speech Language Pathologist
Becoming a speech language pathologist can be easier than you think. Also known as speech therapists, they can help anyone who may have a speech disorder. In addition to their clients, speech language pathologists will do all they can to support family members of the client and give them additional information to learn more. These positions are quite important, and you can often find them on staff at schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
How Does a Speech Language Pathologist Help?
Clients who struggle with speech disorders are in great need of someone like a speech language pathologist to help them. Pathologists help by creating plans for treatment, particularly for clients who have a stutter or those who have other speech-related issues, such as pitch, pronunciation, or understanding a language. As a licensed speech language pathologist, you also learn about the various disorders that can be caused by conditions such as:
- Learning disabilities
- Cleft palates
How Do You Become One?
There are several steps involved in becoming a speech language pathologist:
Learn All You Can: More effective communication and easier swallowing are the two primary outcomes you will strive for as a speech therapist. To that end, you must recognize and acknowledge all the responsibility that comes with the job. For instance, you will need to obtain relevant medical histories and other associated information about your clients. Language and hearing tests assessing current capabilities are another key part of this career. The treatment plans that are so integral in helping your clients will also likely include special equipment or created a plan tailored for an individual client. You will have to get to know your clients better. Besides spoken language, sign language can be another useful outlet for communicating.
When you are assisting clients who have trouble with swallowing, you can suggest special exercises that can help improve the muscles that control swallowing. Therapy is another pathway to helping these particular clients, as well.
Gain Education: A bachelor’s degree is the first step on the educational journey you will need to complete. However, a master’s degree is often necessary. Programs you should enroll in for a bachelor’s degree include:
- Communication Sciences
- American Sign Language
- Science of Speech and Hearing
Graduate level courses and programs are often certified by the Council on Academic Accreditation. Graduating from a program that has been certified by this organization is another critical step in gaining your own license.
Gain Licensing: There are also several steps involved in gaining your license. The first step is passing the Praxis tests overseen by the Educational Testing Service. Then, clinical experience under a supervisor is necessary – somewhere around 375 hours total. Nine months of professional experience after graduation is another requirement.
Progress in Your Field: Experience will yield opportunities to make progress in your field. You can eventually become a supervisor or mentor to therapists who are just starting out their own careers. Another option is to continue your education. Continuing your education will allow you to specialize in helping certain types of clients, such as children.
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