What Do Speech-Language Pathologists Do?
Individuals may encounter complications with speech-language for a variety of reasons, and speech-language pathologists work one on one with those who have disorders affecting speech, fluency, language, and voice. They help these individuals improve their processes and may train them to use specific alternative communication systems. These systems, and the therapy the pathologists provide, often help individuals communicate more clearly and confidently. The pathologists also generally perform research related to the field, such as speech and language problems.The expected increase for jobs in this field is very high, with a 19% increase over the next few years and 4,620 new jobs opening annually. It is estimated that by 2022, 160,000 workers will be employed as speech-language pathologists.
Speech-Language Pathologists Skills and Abilities
To be a speech-language pathologist, you should have a firm understanding of the English language, including grammar and spelling. You should also have knowledge related to psychology in order to understand your patient’s needs and motivations. Inductive and deductive reasoning are both very important to this job, as well as critical thinking and the ability to listen actively to those you treat. Workers in this field should also have knowledge related to therapy and counseling, should have strong customer service skills, and should have strong social perceptiveness.
Speech-Language Pathologists Duties
This job requires duties that combine research, direct care, and diagnostic processes. In this position, you would find treatment plans for patients who have such problems as stuttering, swallowing disorders, delayed language, and inappropriate pitch. You would use certain tests to determine patient care, including barium swallows, speech and language or hearing tests, and medical background information. From these sources, you would develop treatment plans that involve helping a patient learn how to control or strengthen certain muscles like the jaw, tongue, or face muscles, or mechanisms related to breathing. Other duties for this job include:
- Administering evaluations
- Writing reports
- Educating both the patient and his or her family
- Supervising a therapy team
- Publishing research and attending conferences and trainings
- Developing speech exercise programs
- Developing programs in schools
- Performing administrative functions
Speech-Language Pathologists Tools and Technology
Relevant tools for this job are adaptive communication switches, EGGs and laryngographs, stroboscopes, and voice synthesizers. The use of tablet computers is also often common. Technology for this job often includes speech analysis software, signal analysis software, and language analysis software. You will also most likely use email, text to speech software, web browsers, and medical software.
Education and Training for Speech-Language Pathologists
Those who work in this field usually have a master’s degree. Less than 10% have only bachelor’s degrees, and less than 5% have doctoral degrees. Related instructional programs include:
- Communication disorders sciences and services
- Communications sciences and disorders
- Speech-language pathology
Speech-Language Pathologists Salary
With this job, you can expect a salary between about $44,900 and $111,000 annually, or between $21.61 and $53.37 per hour. Washington D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut are among the highest paying states in this field, and the lowest include West Virginia, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. Other factors that affect individual employment rates include the state’s cost of living, your years of experience in the field, and whether you work for a public or private institution.
Speech-Language Pathologists Jobs by Geography
Utah, Texas, and Virginia are expected to see the biggest increase in positions over the next few years, while Maryland, Wisconsin, and Vermont are expected to have the smallest, with Vermont’s increase at 0.2%. Texas, New York, and California currently employ the highest number of overall workers in this field. This information can help you make an informed decision when you apply for a speech-language pathology position.