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Speech Therapy School: Speech Pathology/Pathologist Programs

If you want to pursue a career as a professional speech pathologist, you will need to enroll in a speech therapy school to build the skills and knowledge base needed to be successful in this specialized field. Speech pathology schools train students to work with children and adults to improve their language skills and help those with speech problems increase fluency in the English language. Speech pathologists are in high demand at hospitals, non-profit organizations and schools across the country, and formal training is offered at many reputable speech therapy schools around the country.

What to Expect at Speech Pathologist School

Speech pathology schools train students to evaluate and treat people with communication disorders. Both aspiring speech pathologists and audiologist may attend speech therapy schools to learn about different treatment options available for those undergoing a speech rehabilitation program, and those who are experiencing communication, voice and literacy problems. Graduates of speech pathology schools can work in a variety of professional settings, and may choose to further their educational careers as a research student or professor in the field.

Requirements to Attend Speech Therapy Schools

Most students applying for speech pathologist programs must earn at least a bachelor's degree in communication sciences or in a health-related field to enter a speech pathology program at the graduate level. In order to practice as a speech pathologist, the individual must complete a two-year master's degree program or a four-year doctoral program in the field of speech-language pathology at an accredited institution. Some students pursue a PhD in their field to enter the field of research and reporting on the latest trends related to the speech pathology industry.

After completing graduate studies and successfully fulfilling all clinical requirements, the student can take the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) exam. This certification exam is offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). As of 2009, 47 states in the United States require professionals to take continuing education courses at an approved speech pathologist school in order to retain their license.

Programs at Speech Therapy Schools

Many colleges and universities with a medical sciences department offer speech pathologist programs through a speech therapy school or department.

Some of the undergraduate requirements for a major in speech pathology may include courses such as:

  • Phonetics
  • Language and Speech Acquisition
  • Language Disorders
  • Hearing Science
  • Speech Science
  • Voice and Stuttering
  • Differential Diagnosis
  • Audiologic Rehabilitation
  • Disorders of Articulation

The masters program at a speech pathologist school is designed to prepare students for a professional position working with people with hearing, speech, language, literacy and fluency problems. These programs are typically programmed with clinical studies so that the student can gain hands-on experience in their field.

Individuals who wish to further advance their career may choose to complete a Ph.D. in Communiation Sciences and Disorders. These research-based programs require students to prepare research proposals, complete grants, and participate in mentorship and internship programs. Doctoral students may be given the opportunity to conduct research in fields such as occupational therapy, otolaryngology, physical therapy and special education.

Clinical Programs at Speech Pathologist Schools

Clinical programs that are typically offered at speech pathologist schools include:

  • Stuttering research and treatment
  • Language and literacy
  • Speech and hearing clinics

Clinical programs allow students to work one-on-one with children and adults who are dealing with speech and communication problems in a supervised setting.

Where Speech Pathologists Work

After completing studies at speech therapy schools, individuals can explore job opportunities in a variety of settings including:

  • Elementary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Private nonprofit clinics
  • Home health agencies
  • State and local health departments

Some speech pathologists choose to open up their own private practice and may work individually, or with a group of speech therapy professionals in their area.

Careers After Speech Therapy Schools

After successfully completing graduate studies and receiving certification as a speech therapist, a speech pathologist can explore a number of career opportunities and may work with a team of physicians, psychologists, interpreters and social workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings in speech-language pathology are expected to increase steadily through 2018 as demand for speech pathologists for retirees, students and individuals suffering from communication disorders continues to rise.

Median annual wages for speech-language pathologists were $62,930 in May 2008 and the majority of professionals worked in nursing care facilities and in the field of home health care services.

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