Defining Speech Pathology
What exactly is speech pathology? Speech pathology, or speech-language pathology, focuses on the many components of speech and language development. To help you better understand the subject matter of speech-language pathology studies, some of these components are listed and briefly described here.
Resonance – patterns of how air is released through the mouth and nose when speaking
Phonation – how vocal folds vibrate to create specific sounds
Fluency – how easily or smoothly speech flows, in reference to sounds, syllables, words, complete sentences, etc.; disorders include stuttering
Intonation – rhythm and change in pitch
Morphology – analysis of root words and language structures
Phonology – study of the organization and structure of sounds in speech
Speech Pathology Degree Programs
Colleges and universities around the globe offer degree programs that prepare students for the world of speech pathology. Many speech-language pathology masters degree programs do not require students to possess bachelor degrees in speech-language pathology in order to enroll, but it is often necessary to have taken a few relevant courses in preparation. Not all schools offer bachelors degree programs in speech pathology, so it is important to do your research before applying to just any higher education facilities.
Calvin College offers its undergraduate students the opportunity to earn a bachelors degree in speech pathology and audiology or to enroll in the accelerated bachelors to masters degree program. The bachelors degree program is designed to help prepare students with the basic knowledge necessary to progress to a masters degree program in speech pathology at another college or university; whereas, the bachelors to masters degree program is designed to provide students with more education in less time and save them money in the long run. The bachelors to masters degree program takes a mere five years to complete, as opposed to the four for a bachelors degree and another two for a masters degree, on average. Students enrolled in either speech pathology and audiology degree program learn how biology, physics, psychology, and more each contribute to the study of language and how the knowledge gained through these degree programs can benefit students in landing a career in speech pathology.
The University of North Texas provides undergraduate students with the chance to earn a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology-Audiology, and graduate students can earn a Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology as well as a second bachelors degree. Here, students gain understanding of the basics of speech-language pathology; and those partaking in either masters degree program will complete the requirements necessary to become licensed to practice speech pathology in the state of Texas. The masters degree program is also accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Students enrolled in a speech-language degree program at the University of North Texas take courses ranging from probability and statistics to those that cover the neurological aspects of hearing and speaking so students are able to apply a variety of methods to their occupational practices.
Boston University offers graduate students the opportunity to earn a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, a two-year degree program that prepares students to enter the field of speech pathology after fulfilling the requirements necessary to receive licenses to practice. Students will gain experience through courses that allow them to observe patients of all ages who possess communication disorders at varying levels of intensity, which is excellent preparation for careers as speech pathologists and particularly impressive to employers. Class sizes in this masters degree program are relatively small, and educators are dedicated to providing students with the attention they deserve in order to make the most of their educational experiences.
Careers in Speech Pathology
In order to become a licensed speech pathologist, or more commonly known as speech therapist, you must possess at the very least a masters degree in speech-language pathology. Most people who plan to study speech-language pathology go on to become speech pathologists after earning both a bachelors degree in a relevant field and a masters degree in speech-language pathology. Speech pathologists may earn more than $60,000 annually, based on their areas of specialization as well as their education and experience levels.
Where Speech Pathologists Work
Speech pathologists or therapists can be found in many different environments. Some speech therapists are self employed, with their own private practices. However, this is not always the case. Below is a brief list of some examples of places where speech pathologists may find work.
- Nursing homes
- Primary and secondary schools
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Community health care centers
Issues Addressed and Treated by Speech PathologistsAlthough speech pathologists generally share the same purpose–to diagnose and treat or assist in the prevention of communication disorders–they may specialize in specific areas or working with specific age groups. Here is a list of just a few types of issues speech therapists help treat or prevent.
Other Relevant Career Paths
Once you gain experience as a speech therapist, you may find that you want to advance in the world of health care. The list below contains just a handful of different career paths some people with speech-language pathology degrees pursue.
- Nursing home supervisor
- Community health center manager
- Rehabilitation facility manager
Companies that Hire People with Speech Pathology Degrees
Speech pathologists are needed all over the world. Many schools and health care facilities hire people with speech-language pathology degrees. Some examples of places that hire people with degrees in speech-language pathology are listed here.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) – headquarters in Washington, D.C.; hires positions for associate directors and directors of certification for programs, marketing assistants, health policy associates, project and business managers, etc.
Language Fundamentals, Inc. – headquarters in Hopewell Jct, NY; hires positions for speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, nurses, physical therapists, etc.
The NeuroMedical Center Clinic and Hospital – located in Baton Rouge, LA; hires positions for speech and language therapists, medical assistants, occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc.
Simi Valley Hospital – located in Simi Valley, CA; hires positions for speech therapists, certified nursing assistants, nutrition assistants, laboratory technicians, etc.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for speech pathologists is predicted to increase slightly faster than average over the next decade. Therefore, the United States alone is in greater need of speech pathologists, so many more opportunities are opening up for people with speech-language pathology degrees. After doing some more online research, if this career sounds right for you, then consider earning a degree in speech pathology today.