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Speech-Language Pathologist

Career Overview

Speech language pathologists are more commonly known as speech therapists. They work with individuals to correct speaking disorders, cognitive speech issues, and language fluency. Speech difficulties such as a stutter, difficulty with certain sounds or syllables, problems with voice pitch or harshness, and cognitive disorders are the problems that speech-language pathologists help to improve.

Speech-language pathologists keep individual records on their patients, chart their progress and develop individual therapeutic programs tailored to each person's need. Speech-language pathologists also work with people who have difficulty swallowing. Therapy in this area includes teaching the proper use of muscles to facilitate swallowing without choking or inhaling a beverage or food.

Education

Most positions in the speech-language pathology field require a master's degree. Almost 250 colleges and universities offer graduate programs in this discipline. There is a national certification exam required by most states; 47 of them require licensure. Other requirements include up to 375 hours of supervised clinical work, and nine months of postgraduate clinical experience.

Only twelve states have the same licensing requirements for speech-language pathologists working in public schools. The other 35 states issue a generally issue a teaching license or certification that requires a master's degree in the field.

Employment

There were 110,000 speech-language pathologists working in the U.S. in 2006. Almost half of them were employed in the education sector, with the majority working in pre-schools and elementary schools. Others worked in child care facilities, home health care services and family service agencies.

Job Outlook

The jobs in this profession are projected to increase at about the same overall average rate of all jobs. One of the driving factors in creating new positions is the aging of the population, which will increase the number of elderly who need therapy recovering from strokes or other debilitating conditions.

Salary

Lowest 10% $41,240

Median Salary $62,930

Highest 10% $99,220

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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