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How To Become a Speech-Language Pathologist
The career of speech-language pathology with a master’s degree in public health is particularly rewarding, as it gives you the opportunity to help really needy people in the public sphere.
Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, help to assess, treat and diagnose communication and swallowing issues in their patients. They also can work to help these problems from occurring or getting worse. Speech, language and swallowing problems can happen for different reasons, such as stroke, brain trauma, loss of hearing, delays in development, cleft palate, and also emotional disorders.
Common job duties for speech-language pathologists include:
- Talk to their patients to determine how much difficulty they have with speaking or communicating
- Determine how severe the communications problems by having their patients complete reading and vocalizing tests, or give them standardized testing
- Determine the best options for treatment, and then carry out a treatment plan based upon personal and individual needs
- Show patients how to make appropriate sounds of language, and how to improve their voices
- Teach alternative ways to communicate, including sign language
- Help their patients to improve their ability to read and write
- Strengthen muscles that the patients use for swallowing, by demonstrating appropriate exercises
- Counsel patients and their families on how to best deal with disorders of communication
Speech-Language Pathologist Career & Salary Outlook
The employment prospects for speech-language pathologists is on the upswing; it is expected to increase by 23% in the next 10 years, which is about average when compared to other occupations. One of the reasons for this increase is that baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and there are more health-related problems that may lead to problems with language or speech, such as hearing loss and strokes. These problems, which happen more with older people, will probably cause there to be a bigger demand for speech-language pathologists. Also, there is more awareness today of speech problems in children, such as with stuttering. Last, there are medical advances in the treatment of premature babies and also trauma and stroke victims, and all of them need the help of speech-language pathologists.
The median salary for professionals in this career was $66,900 in 2010, and the top 10% earned more than $103,000. If you have a master’s degree in public health, this degree should help you to get a higher salary in the government sector in the area of public health. See more from the Top Public Health Careers list.
Job Outlook for Speech-Language Pathologists
As mentioned above, the job outlook for these professionals is on the increase, due to the retiring of the baby boom generation, and also because more children are being treated for language disabilities. It also can be expected that more health insurance companies will want to reimburse for these sorts of services to prevent more serious communication problems from occurring later.
Speech-Language Pathologists Education and Training
A speech-language pathologist will ned to have a master’s degree in the field, and you will need to be licensed in most US states. You should have had classes in areas such as speech disorders, methods of alternative communication, and also disorders of swallowing. If you have a master’s of public health, this should help you to secure a good job in speech-language pathology in the public sector or in public health.
You can earn a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology, which is offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Assn.