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Career Profile: Speech Language Pathologist

Why Is Speech Language Pathology a Job of Tomorrow?
As connections and networking become more prominent in the business and social world, the need for those with speaking disorders to seek help will increase. Thus the demand will remain high for speech language pathologists, who aid those who struggle with verbal communication, allowing them to develop their speaking skills. Employment opportunities for speech language pathologists are expected to rise 11 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Speech language pathologists earn an average salary of $57,710 annually.

What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do?
Speech language pathologists work with those who struggle with verbal communication. The issue may be with sound production, stuttering, voice disorders that cause the speaker to have an inappropriate pitch or volume, accent modification, swallowing difficulties or a cognitive disorder that hinders communication. A number of disorders and conditions can lead to swallowing issues or cognitive disorders, including stroke, cerebral palsy and mental retardation. Speech language pathologists therefore work with patients who were born with speech problems as well as those affected by trauma. The pathologist will meet with clients and their loved ones to determine what route of action to take to remedy the speech problem. Pathologists may have patients work on strengthening their muscles to speak and swallow, or work on producing sounds and words. They also track the progress of the patient to ensure that the treatment is working. Pathologists typically work alongside physicians.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Speech Language Pathologist?
Speech language pathologists must have a master's degree in a speech language pathology program. This typically takes two to three years to earn after completing a bachelor's degree. A master's program for this field of study covers such topics as anatomy and physiology. Most states require that speech language pathologists obtain licensure before practicing. To earn this, pathologists must pass an examination and complete about 375 hours of supervised clinical work and nine months of professional work. Many states also require pathologists to take part in continuing education in order to renew their licenses.