Nature of the Work
Working with the full range of human communication and its disorders, speech-language pathologists:
- Evaluate and diagnose speech, language, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders.
- Treat speech, language, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
- Teach in college and university programs.
- Manage agencies, clinics, organizations, or private practices.
- Engage in research to enhance knowledge about human communication processes.
- Supervise and direct public school or clinical programs.
- Develop new methods and products to evaluate and treat speech-language disorders.
Speech-language pathologists often work as part of a team, which may include teachers, physicians, audiologists, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation counselors and others. Corporate speech-language pathologists also work with employees to improve communication with their customers.
The practice and work of speech-language pathologists may take place in various settings:
- Public and private schools
- Rehabilitation centers
- Short-term and long-term nursing care facilities
- Community clinics
- Colleges and universities
- Private practice offices
- State and local health departments
- State and federal government agencies
- Home health agencies (home care)
- Adult day care centers
- Centers for persons with developmental disabilities
- Research laboratories
To enter this career, one must have a sincere interest in helping people, an above average intellectual aptitude, and the sensitivity, personal warmth, and perspective to be able to interact with the person who has a communication problem. Scientific aptitude, patience, emotional stability, tolerance, and persistence are necessary, as well as resourcefulness and imagination. Other essential traits include a commitment to work cooperatively with others and the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
The work of a speech-language pathologists is further enhanced by graduate education, which is mandated for certification by the Council For Clinical Certification (CFCC) of ASHA. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists who possess a graduate degree are eligible to apply for certification which involves the completion of a graduate degree, a supervised Clinical Fellowship (CF), and a passing score on a national examination. Additionally, the individual must acquire the requisite knowledge and skills mandated by certification standards while enrolled in a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). In most states, speech-language pathologists and audiologists also must comply with state regulatory (licensure) standards to practice and/or have state education certification. The requirements for licensure or teacher certification are very similar or identical to ASHA's CCC requirements.