How to Become a Speech Language Pathologist

By Brenda on December 8th, 2011


One of the most lucrative careers in healthcare is a speech language pathologist.  This profession lacks competition for jobs, offers more employment opportunities than candidates and has a viable outlook in terms of pay and need.  The work environment is favorable and benefits are highly rewarding.

The job of a speech language pathologist is to examine, diagnose and treat a patient’s speech language.  The job entails working with patients who cannot or have great difficulty making clear speech sounds.  Patients may stutter, have rhythm or voice quality problems, or significant impairments that cause them to experience difficulty with speech.

Educational Requirements of a Speech Language Pathologist

A student of speech language pathology typically attends school of a total of six years to obtain a Master’s degree in speech pathology.  Nearly all states require a master’s degree in speech pathology or closely related field.  Upon graduation, students must work 275-375 hours in a supervised clinical setting and receive a passing score on the state licensing examination.

Nine months of supervised professional experience in a work environment is also required by most states.  The speech language pathology program must generate from an accredited institution.  Students must graduate from a school that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology in order to be eligible for state licensing and the receipt of speech pathology credentials.

Working Conditions of a Speech Language Pathologist

Most speech language pathologists work in a comfortable healthcare setting or school.  Many work in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and private practices.  The job does not require physical demands but does require a high degree of attention to detail.  Concentration and focus required to conduct the skills required to assess and assist patients is a must.

Speech language pathologists typically work forty hours a week and many work part-time hours.  Those who work on a contractual basis may spend time traveling between facilities and those who work in home-health care are usually required to travel to patient’s home to examine and treat.

Speech language pathologists must be strong emotionally, as they treat patients and counsel families who are often under stress due to the condition.  The emotional needs of family members may be demanding and it is important to possess a strong yet compassionate personality.

Salary Potential of a Speech Language Pathologist

Most speech language pathologists earn on average between $50,000 – $70,000 per year depending on experience and location.  The job outlook for speech pathologists is excellent and projected as favorable over the next ten years as the aging population continues to increase and require care in the field.

Speech language pathologists who work for an employer have the opportunity to also open a private practice that offers consulting in the field.  Many speech pathology professionals earn additional income through a consulting business and have the opportunity to work chosen hours rather than those set by an employer.  Freelance speech pathology income can be sizable and open the doors for advancement opportunities.


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