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Speech Language Pathologist - What does it mean - Careers - Career Management

Speech Language Pathologist - What does it mean?   by Mark Lawson

in Careers / Career Management    (submitted 2011-09-16)

Speech language pathologist is the official name for speech therapists. They are responsible for helping people with speech, language and hearing disabilities. These include stuttering, speech rhythm and inability to produce sounds. These disorders are usually caused by an illness, a genetic disorder or an injury. Sometimes, speech pathologists are called upon to help artists deal with accents. They also train sports figures and political leaders in public speaking. Bottom line, they identify the speech disorder of a person and helps to come up with a treatment plan to correct the disability.

A lot of speech language pathologist professionals are employed in schools. These are concentrated in pre school, primary and secondary institutions. Some therapists are employed by one district and they look after several schools in that area. They can also work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, day care centers and home care services. Some of them opt to set up a private practice though most of them were employed first to gain experience and build their credibility.

Statistics show that almost 120,000 jobs were held by speech therapists in 2008 and it is expected to rise. As the current generation is reaching the elderly age, speech therapists are required to help them retain their speaking skills amid illnesses brought about by old age.

To become a speech language pathologist, you need to complete the educational requirements so you can qualify for a license. Before you can enrol in a speech therapy graduate school, you need to be a graduate of a 4 year degree. The requirements vary per school and state so it is best for you to do some research on the location you are in and the school that you are looking to enter. Make sure that the speech therapy school that you will enrol in is accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Check the school clinical practice assistance because one of the many requirements to get a license is a specific number of hours of hands on experience.

The programs for a speech language pathologist should include studies on anatomy, speech disorders, psychology, human development, phonetics, physiology and neurology. There are programs that will lead you towards a specialization so if you want to help children specifically, for instance, your education must be able to sustain the requirements for that. If your school is accredited, most likely the program has been approved by the governing organization as well and is recognized by the industry when you step out of the school.

speech language pathologist hopefuls must get a license to be allowed to legally practice as a speech therapist. There is a national exam that is given called the Praxis Exam in Speech-Language Pathology. Apart from that, you also need to complete more than 300 hours of supervised hands on practice. After you graduate, you also need 9 months of clinical experience outside of the school.

Once you complete the number of hours and passed the exam, you will be given your license. This license must be renewed and to do that, you will be required to take refresher courses. This is to ensure that you are up to date with the developments in the speech therapy field. These will help you improve your clinical practice and the methods that you will use on your patients.