A speech therapist works with clients of all ages to help them improve their language, pronunciation, and other aspects of speech.
If you are interested in health, are good at science, and are interested in language, then you might like to become a speech therapist.
Like many roles in healthcare, speech therapy is a growing sector.
For those that are qualified, this is a career with excellent career prospects.
There are many reasons that a person may see a speech therapist.
Many children see a speech therapist in the years before beginning school to get help with their language skills.
Older children and adults may seek help with a stutter.
Often those who speak English as a second language will call on a speech therapist for help with pronunciation.
Education Requirements to Become a Speech Therapist
The educational path to become a speech therapist is a long one.
To begin with, you will need to attain a four years bachelor’s degree at college.
While there are some undergraduate courses in speech therapy, you could also major in psychology, sociology, or any other health or science related discipline.
After your undergraduate degree, you will need to then complete a masters or doctorate in speech therapy.
There are quite a few schools across the country offering these programs.
Most states will require you to be licensed before you can work as a speech therapist.
This will involve completing a postgraduate course, about 300 hours of supervised practice, and also passing a state set exam.
A good resource for state specific licensing requirements as well as for locating accredited courses is the American Speech Hearing Association, or ASHA.
Speech Therapist Job Description
When you become a speech therapist, your role will be to assess, diagnose, and treat disorders relating to speech, language, communication, and fluency.
They may also help people with other tasks like swallowing or voice that are related to the throat.
Using a range of tests and instruments, a speech therapist will work to diagnose the cause of the patient’s problem, and determine a plan for treatment.
Problems could be congenital, acquired, or developmental.
A speech therapist client often has trouble making sounds, understanding words, or communicating with others.
This may be due to a problem like a stutter, an inappropriate pitch of voice, or due to an illness like a stroke.
A speech therapist can also help a person to change their accents, and often work with those who speak English as a second language to help them assimilate.
Often these people are public figures, or required to communicate a lot as a part of their role.
Here are some of the daily tasks you might complete if you become a speech therapist:
- Booking appointments and diary management
- Assessing clients speech problems
- Creating a treatment plan
- Creating session plans
- Going through exercises and activities to help a client with speech
- Communicating with others in the healthcare profession
Speech Therapist Salary and Career Path
Almost half of speech therapists are employed within educational services, and many also begin their careers here.
Speech therapists are employed in education, in health care facilities, by social welfare groups, and by not for profit organizations.
A lot of speech therapists also run their own private practice out of consulting offices.
After you become a speech therapist, you may move onto specialized areas of this field.
For instance, you might work solely with young children, or people with certain disorders.
Many go on to run their own practice later in their careers.
Some similar roles to that of a speech therapist include:
The median salary of a speech therapist is $60,000 a year.
Those in an entry level role could expect to earn around $45,000 a year.
The top 10% of earners take home over $100,000 a year.
If you are looking for a career in health that will allow you to work closely with clients, then you may like to become a speech therapist.
Many people think that speech therapists only work with children; however they work with a diverse range of people from across the community.
Seeing a client improve their speech and communication skills can be very rewarding for those that pursue this career.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a speech therapist do?
Speech therapists diagnose problems (like the person’s deficits or language limitations) and develop treatment plans.
The professionals are members of the allied healthcare team and can work closely with nurses, doctors, and other therapists.
Speech therapists can work in different facilities; for example, schools, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers.
The typical responsibilities of a speech therapist usually include performing various tests to determine the problems that the person might have; administering different tests to identify neurological problems; developing an appropriate treatment plan; helping patients improve the pronunciation of letters and words, and so on.
Speech therapists must be able to provide support, be patient, have compassion, and possess great listening and communication skills.
How much do speech therapists make?
On average, a speech therapist can make a little more than $58.000 per year in the United States.
In case you decide to choose this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $42.000 and $81.000 annually.
The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the facility you work in, the location and so on.
Speech therapists in New York, Pennsylvania, and California, for example, have the highest average salaries, for example.
An entry-level speech therapist can earn around $29 per hour, while a top-level specialist with plenty of experience can make $59 and more per hour.
How much does it cost to become a speech therapist?
In most cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in English, education, linguistics, language development, psychology or any other related field, in order to become a speech therapist.
A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).
In a lot of states, you would need to have a master’s degree in speech-language pathology (it will cost you around $23.000-$75.000 to obtain one).
To become a licensed professional, you would have to pursue licensure ($285-$510).
What is the demand for speech therapists?
Between 2014 and 2024, the speech therapist job market is expected to grow by 21%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That is a lot faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.
At the moment, there is a shortage of specialists in schools.
The industry is mainly concentrated in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas.
How long does it take to become a speech therapist?
It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and 1-2 years to earn a master’s degree.
You can consider seeking an internship during your last year in university to get that on-job experience as the majority of employers prefer the candidates to have at least a few years of experience (bear in mind that a lot of master’s programs are paired with clinical or internship experiences).
To apply for certification in speech-language pathology, you would need to have either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. and at least 36 weeks of clinical experience.