Speech-Language Pathologist

It is estimated that between 6 and 8 million people in the United States have some form of language impairment, and by first grade, about 5% of children have noticeable speech disorders. Speech-language pathologists diagnose and treat these communication disorders, as well as swallowing and other language-related disorders.

Speech-language pathologists work with people who:

  • Have had a stroke that causes them to have difficulty understanding or expressing language
  • Cannot make speech sounds, or cannot make them clearly
  • Have speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering
  • Have voice quality problems, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice
  • Have problems understanding and producing language
  • Wish to improve their communication skills by modifying an accent
  • Have cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem solving disorders
  • Have oral motor problems causing eating and swallowing difficulties

 Speech-language pathologists also:

  • Interact with patients and their families around both medical and emotional needs
  • Help develop new diagnostic criteria and treatments by participating in clinical research

 Employment opportunities can be found in:

  • Public and private schools
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Community clinics
  • Colleges, universities and research laboratories
  • Private practice
  • Home care
  • Centers for persons with developmental disabilities

Education and training requirements

A graduate degree is required for certification by the Council For Clinical Certification of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. In order to be eligible for certification, speech-language pathologists must also successfully complete the required clinical experiences and pass a national exam.

Speech-language pathologists are also expected to have:

  •  Excellent academic skills, especially in science, math and English
  •  Patience, persistence and the ability to work well with others
  •  Cultural competence and sensitivity
  •  The ability to communicate effectively (both orally and in writing)

Western MA Fast Facts

  • Workers in Pioneer Valley: 410
  • Education Needed: Masters degree
  • Entry Level Salary:$17/hour
  • Experienced Salary:$24/hour
  • Learn more at VCN.org

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