A speech therapist, also known as a speech pathologist, is someone who aids individuals who have trouble with speaking or hearing due to several reasons. These could be individuals who stammer, who have slurred speech, who have a heavy accent or perhaps a lisp, lack of voice clarity, or those who need to develop their basic speech. On the other hand, individuals who are incapable of hearing may also benefit from working with a speech therapist, in order to develop basic speech skills.
Associate's Degree in Speech Therapy
Those who attain an associate's degree in speech therapy are qualified to work as assistants to licensed speech pathologists. Here, you are taught how to diagnose and treat speech disorders, both theoretically and practically. It is a two-year program that requires you to complete a certain amount of hours spent under the guidance of a licensed speech therapist. The coursework included in this program consists of dealing with speech disorders in children with special needs, the basics of audiology, implementing behavioral changes, basics of medical terminology, writing reports regarding speech pathology, and voice articulation. As an assistant, you will be able to devise the numerous activities required to implement speech therapy. You will also be required to attain licensure that will allow you to practice in this field.
Undergraduate (Bachelor's) Degree in Speech Therapy
To become a licensed speech therapist, enrolling for a bachelor's degree is the first thing you need to do. Only if you enroll for a bachelor's degree can you qualify for a master's degree in speech therapy that will help you attain the necessary license to practice in the field. In this course, you will be taught everything you need to know about speech disorders and communication in order to treat affected individuals successfully. You will also be required to work a certain number of hours as an assistant. The coursework will include subjects such as neurology, physiology, acquiring language and vocabulary, developmental speech disorders, phonetics, and dealing with speech problems due to audiological disorders. Even with a bachelor's degree, you can go as far as working as a clinical or general speech pathology assistant or a research assistant.
Postgraduate (Master's) Degree in Speech Therapy
To become a licensed speech therapist getting a master's degree is a must, the foundation for which is laid when you attain a bachelor's degree in the field. You are also required to provide your GRE scores when enrolling for a master's degree. The coursework here includes medical diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders, teaching communication, conducting research, a detailed look into motor speech disorders, phonetics, and difficulty in language articulation. The median salary of a licensed speech therapist is around $63,000 that is likely to increase based on continuing education and experience. Based on the state requirements you will be required to obtain a license that will qualify you to work as a speech therapist.
Once the licensure has been attained, you can obtain certification from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). This will give you an edge in terms of the salary range offered. Further, you will also have to pursue continuing education in order to maintain the license. Students who have attained a master's degree can also go ahead and pursue a doctoral degree in speech therapy thereafter. This will qualify you to progress into academics or research in the field. Pursuing such a degree requires several years of experience in the field.
While the overall job is to work with individuals having trouble with their speech, the actual process by which it is carried out is what has been described here. Some individuals may have trouble with speech from birth, while others may have developed it due to psychological reasons. Moreover, individuals who have been affected by health conditions such as paralysis may also need the help of a speech therapist. They also work with autistic and other mentally challenged individuals to help develop their speech skills. They devise several exercises that help improve speech, voice clarity, clarity of speech, so that it becomes comprehensible. As such, they usually work in conjunction with doctors, psychologists, psychotherapists, and even with teachers and professionals from the field of education.