Speech pathology masters programs are tailored to teach students how to become language pathologists. Other names for this occupation are speech-language pathologist or speech therapist. SPs work with people who have speaking-related issues and communication disorders. Common ones include vocal disorders, rhythm or fluency problems, and the inability to make specific sounds. They also help people who wish to change their accents, or patients with swallowing difficulties.
Speech Pathology Training and Education
The main subjects are acoustic principles, types of disorders, physiology, and anatomy. Before the state board will issue a license, graduates of the masters programs in speech pathology program are required to pass an exam set by the Educational Testing Service.
To further meet licensing requirements, graduates should have completed nine months of post-graduate clinical experience, plus 300 to 375 hours of supervised clinical practice. Forty-one US states require licensed SPs to participate in continuing education workshops. Those who fail to attend these will not have their licenses renewed.
Speech Therapy Careers
What are the career choices relating speech pathology masters programs? The job involves making assessments, diagnoses, treatments, and preventative measures. Most US states insist that licensed practitioners have a masters degree. In some states, licenses are only granted to those who have trained in programs that have received accreditation from the Council on Academic Accreditations in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
Let’s look at this profession in more detail. When diagnosing disorders, various methods are applied. Instruments are used to identify the extent and nature of a problem, and written and oral tests are also given. Language, vocalization, and swallowing problems are analyzed and recorded in order to devise individual care programs. Electronic aids and alternative methods of communication, like sign language, are often prescribed.
SPs are able to help people who are virtually speechless by teaching them how to make sounds, enhance their language skills, and improve their vocalization. The aim is to improve their level of communicating. A SP can also help people who have suddenly lost their ability to talk. They can be shown how to develop, or recover, adequate communicatory skills to meet their vocational, social, and educational needs.
In addition, they work with people who have rhythm and fluency disorders when talking. Typical examples are stuttering, or stammering, poor voice quality, incorrect voice pitches, or voices that are too harsh. Many patients have cognitive afflictions such as attention-span, problem-solving, or memory disorders. Patients with oral motor dysfunctions may not be able to swallow or eat, but they too can be helped.
Estimated Income and Projected Job Outlook
During 2008, a US census established that, throughout the country, 119,000 SPs were employed. Fifty percent of these worked in pre-primary, secondary, and elementary schools. A large number worked in other environments. These included group practices, individual and family services, health care services, outpatient services, child day-care services, hospitals, and nursing homes, while some had their own private practices.
Job opportunities for graduates of speech pathology masters programs are good. The US Bureau of Labor predicts this career to grow more rapidly than the average of all other occupations until 2018. There will be a greater demand for those who are bilingual, particularly Spanish and English. The median salary is $41,085 – $92,300 a year. Most graduates will get jobs in group practices, schools, clinics, and hospitals, while some will be self-employed.
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