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What does a speech language pathologist do?

Let’s dive into the world of speech language pathology, where these incredible professionals play a vital role in diagnosing and treating all sorts of communication disorders that can affect anyone, from kids to adults. What are the essential aspects of a speech language pathologist’s (SLPs) role? What does the education journey to become an SLP look like? What makes this profession rewarding and worth it? These are some of the important questions, that we will help provide all the answers to!

Find effective ways to communicate with others and help others communicate with the world around them. Central Michigan University offers a well-rounded speech language pathology program. 

What is a speech language pathologist?

Speech language pathologist job description

Ever wondered about the people working behind the scenes to tackle communication challenges? Enter speech language pathologists. Beyond just correcting speech, they’re the heart and soul of diagnosing and treating a wide range of communication disorders. Think personalized treatment plans, not one-size-fits all solutions. From helping with articulation to navigating language complexities, SLPs are on a mission to help improve patient problems.

Problems like these:

Articulation disorders

  • Difficulty pronouncing sounds or words correctly.

Stuttering (fluency disorders)

  •  Involves disruptions in the natural flow of speech, with repetitions, prolongations or blocks in sounds or syllables.

Voice disorders

  • Problems with pitch, volume or quality of the voice, often resulting in hoarseness or a strained vocal quality.

Auditory processing disorders

  • Challenges in understanding or interpreting information, impacting the comprehension of spoken language.

Dysphagia (swallowing disorders)

  • Difficulties with chewing and swallowing, which can lead to challenges in eating and drinking safely.

In the clinical setting, SLPs conduct thorough assessments to identify the root causes of communication disorders. This involves evaluating speech articulation, language comprehension, voice quality and fluency. Based on these assessments, they design tailored interventions that may include exercises, activities and strategies to enhance communication skills. 

Beyond direct therapy, SLPs collaborate with other healthcare professionals, educators and families to create a holistic approach to communication care. They provide valuable insights and guidance on effective communication strategies, augmentative communication devices and support systems that facilitate improved language development.

Why are SLP roles important?

The significance of the Speech Language Pathologist’s role lies in their ability to be catalysts for positive change in individuals’ lives. Communication disorders can profoundly impact a person’s quality of life, affecting academic performance, social interactions and even emotional well-being. 

SLPs serve as advocates for those struggling with communication challenges, fostering a supportive environment that empowers individuals to overcome obstacles. By addressing communication disorders, SLPs contribute to not only the linguistic development but also to improved social integration and overall mental health.

Their expertise is particularly crucial in early intervention, where timely identification and intervention can significantly enhance outcomes. Through comprehensive assessments and targeted interventions, SLPs play a pivotal role in helping individuals unlock their communication potential, fostering independence and confidence. 

SLP career opportunities

A speech language pathology degree opens doors to a plethora of rewarding career paths. Professionals can specialize in different fields because of the flexibility of this certification. According to the 2015 ASHA Health Care Survey, yearly salaries ranged from $70,000 to $93,000 for SLPs working in a healthcare setting. Those in administration made $90,000, while SLPs in academic settings made $60,000 to $72,000. Here are some of the diverse positions one can undertake with a speech language pathology career:

  1. School-based SLPs: These experts operate in educational environments, partnering with educators and other professionals to assist students who require speech and language support. They address issues such as language development, articulation and social communication.
  2. Medical SLPs: In hospitals and healthcare settings, medical SLPs focus on treating communication disorders related to medical conditions. They may work with patients recovering from strokes, traumatic brain injuries or surgeries that affect speech and swallowing.
  3. Private practice: SLPs can establish their private practices, offering specialized services to clients with specific communication needs. This avenue allows flexibility and the autonomy to tailor interventions based on individual requirements.
  4. Research and academia: Some SLPs choose to contribute to the field through research and academia. They may work in universities, conducting studies to advance the understanding of communication disorders and developing innovative technology.
  5. Telepractice: With advancements in technology, SLPs can provide services remotely through telepractice. This option expands access to therapy for individuals in rural or underserved areas. 

Understanding the wide variety of opportunities within the field of speech language pathology enhances the appeal of pursuing this career path. As an SLP, you'll make a lasting impact by helping people communicate better in schools, hospitals, or private practices.

Speech language pathology program at Central Michigan University 

Central Michigan University’s Speech-Language Pathology program is your go-to place to turn your love for communication into a fulfilling career. Our highly qualified teachers, help you learn by doing. We’re big on hands-on learning and making sure you’re ready to help anyone, anywhere. When you graduate, you won’t just be a pro at diagnosing and helping – you’ll be a caring and creative expert.

Central Michigan University’s Speech Language Pathology program ensures that graduates step into the world prepared. Accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation, our program sets the stage for a fulfilling and impactful career. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a speech pathologist?

Ready to become a speech pathologist? It is a bit of a journey, but totally doable. First, complete that bachelor’s degree, then roll into the speech pathology master’s program. This is expected to be around a six to seven-year time commitment. Don’t forget those must-have clinical hours for certification. It is a mix of hard work and dedication, but in the end, you’re all set to make a real impact with your communication skills.

What degree do you need to be a speech pathologist?

As a prospective speech pathology student you’ll have multiple undergraduate degree pathways to consider, with a direct route being a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or speech pathology. However, flexibility exists if you’re interested in related fields like linguistics, psychology or English. While these alternative degrees can serve as steppingstones, the most common and direct path to a masters in speech language pathology is through a bachelor’s in CSD.

This special path guarantees you pick up some seriously important knowledge in human anatomy, linguistics, research methods and neuroscience, plus a bit of math and stats for good measure. It might sound like a mix of subjects, but these are the important building blocks that you need for your future gig as a speech language pathologist.

What is the difference between a speech therapist and speech pathologist?

While the terms “speech therapist” and “speech pathologist” are often used interchangeably, both professionals share the goal of assessing, diagnosing and treating communication disorders. However, a speech pathologist typically holds a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, reflecting a more comprehensive scope of practice. 

Is speech pathology a difficult degree?

Pursuing a degree in speech pathology demands dedication and hard work, as you follow a curriculum that combines anatomy, linguistics and therapeutic techniques. Sure, there are challenges, but the rewarding part? You’re on a mission to make a real difference in people’s lives. It’s a journey that is both a bit tough and totally fulfilling.

Is a career in speech pathology worth it?  

Absolutely! A career in speech pathology offers not only financial rewards but also the satisfaction of making a significant difference in the lives of individuals facing communication challenges. As if being a speech language pathologist wasn’t exciting enough, the growing demand for SLPs is an added bonus. It is not just a job trend; it is a sign that the work is impactful and worthwhile.

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Author: by University Communications | Categories: University Communications
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