Speech Therapist Job Description

Speech Language Pathologist working with boy.  Speech therapists often work in schools to help children learn to speak.

Speech Language Pathologist working with boy.  Speech therapists often work in schools to help children learn to speak.

Speech Therapist Job Description: Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent disorders related to speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, and fluency.

Speech therapists work with people who cannot produce speech sounds or cannot produce them clearly. Those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering; people with voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice; those with problems understanding and producing language.

Those who wish to improve their communication skills by modifying an accent; and those with cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem solving disorders. They also work with people who have swallowing difficulties.

Alternate Titles:  Communication Specialist, Speech Language Pathologists, Speech Therapist,  Speech and Language Clinician

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Working Environment

These professionals usually work at a desk or table in clean comfortable surroundings. In medical settings, they may work at the patient’s bedside and assist in positioning the patient. In schools, they may work with students in an office or classroom. Some work in the client’s home.

Although the work is not physically demanding, it requires attention to detail and intense concentration. The emotional needs of clients and their families may be demanding. Most full-time speech-language pathologists work 40 hours per week. Those who work on a contract basis may spend a substantial amount of time traveling between facilities.



Training and Qualifications - to be a Speech Therapist.

The majority of speech pathologists have a masters degree. Speech-language pathology courses cover anatomy, physiology, and the development of the areas of the body involved in speech, language, and swallowing; the nature of disorders; principles of acoustics; and psychological aspects of communication.

Graduate students also learn to evaluate and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders and receive supervised clinical training in communication disorders. Prerequisite courses include biology, chemistry, college level algebra, psychology and sociology.

Licensing and Credentialing

Licensure or certification is required in 47 of the 50 states in the U.S. The usual process to obtain licensure or certification is:

  1. Graduate from an accredited school of Speech Pathology
  2. Practice in a clinical environment for 400 hours as an speech therapist intern
  3. Pass a national exam
  4. Apply for licensure or certification in the state you wish to practice in.

Significant Points of the Speech Therapist Job Description

About half worked in educational services; most others were employed by health care and social assistance facilities.

A master’s degree in speech-language pathology is the standard credential required for licensing in most States.

Excellent job opportunities are expected.

Career Progression

As speech-language pathologists gain clinical experience and engage in continuing professional education, many develop expertise with certain populations, such as preschoolers and adolescents, or disorders, such as aphasia and learning disabilities.

Some may obtain board recognition in a specialty area, such as child language, fluency, or feeding and swallowing. Experienced clinicians may become mentors or supervisors of other therapists or be promoted to administrative positions.

Resources for Speech-Language Pathologists Job Description:

Speech-Language Pathologists: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association