Speech Therapist: Description And Why Every School Needs One

speech therapist with a child

Ironically, most people do not understand the role of a speech therapist and their importance in a school setting. Those who have heard about this profession assume that a speech therapist only works in a hospital setting. It is why we wrote this article to enlighten the reader on the importance of a speech therapist and how one can join this profession. You will also learn about the academic requirements needed to succeed in this profession.

What Is A Speech Therapist?

A speech therapist is a person who works with people with swallowing and communication problems. Some problems treated by a speech therapist include;

Literacy problems

This mainly revolves around reading and writing. This is because you are most likely to have a problem with spelling and writing of words if you have a speech and language disorder.


This is a condition in adults that causes hearing and reading problems.

Apraxia Of Speech

This is a language condition in which students cannot put sounds together to make a word. This can also be referred to as an articulation disorder.

Social Communication Problems

This is also known as pragmatics. This is a condition in which students and adults alike cannot fluently talk to different people and do not understand verbal communication rules such as how close one should stand to the other when communicating.

Fluency Problems

This is mainly associated with stuttering.

Voice Problems

This is a condition in which one loses their voice while talking and in worse case scenarios, unable to make any sounds.

Feeding And Swallowing Problems

This is associated with how well we eat and drink. If this is not treated, it may cause malnutrition.

Cognitive-Communication Problems

This is a condition in which people have difficulty remembering things and solving basic daily problems.

woman with mouth covered

Signs Of Communication Disorders

The following are signs associated with communication disorders among children;

  • The child is a late talker
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Difficulty in learning how to read and write
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Struggling to express thoughts and ideas freely
  • Difficulty following instructions during an exam

How To Become A Speech Therapist

To qualify as a speech therapist, you must have a master’s degree in speech pathology. Without a master’s degree, you cannot treat speech disorders in children and prepare them for a state licensing exam.

As a speech therapist student, prepare to spend a minimum of 400 hours of practice as a clinician. Once you have met all the requirements as pertaining to a speech therapist course, you will be awarded a certificate of clinical competence {CCC} by the American Speech Language Hearing Association.

Becoming A School Speech Pathologist

To qualify to work as a school speech therapist, you will work your way through it. The process is outlined in 5 steps below;

1. Earn A Bachelor’s Degree

You will need to start with a bachelor’s degree to become a certified speech pathologist. The most suitable degree is a Speech-Language Pathology degree. When undertaking this degree, you will learn about linguistics, language disorders, physiology of speech, phonetics, sign language, and audiology.

2. Get A Master’s Degree

Once you have your bachelor’s degree, the next step will be to get a master degree to qualify for a pathologist position in a school.  The most common master degree pursued is in speech pathology. It is here you will get an in-depth understanding of how to treat school children with several disorders caused by development delay, having a cleft palate or by been born mute.

3. Complete A Supervised Course

For you to be qualified to get a speech-language license, you will be supervised by a speech therapist who is certified and licensed for a minimum number of hours.

4. Getting A License

Once you have been supervised for the minimum hours required by your state, you can now apply for a license. Some states may require you to take an additional certification exam.

5. Satisfying Specific School Requirements In Your State

Different schools in different states will have their own requirements that have to be met before they hire a speech therapist. For example, if you are in Georgia, you may be required to possess a Georgia Teaching Certificate. As a speech therapist, you may also be required to possess a driving license before you are employed.

6. Employment Opportunities

As a speech-language pathologist, not only can you work in public schools, but you can also work in a private learning institution. Private learning institutions may require you to provide specialized care especially to those with psychiatric conditions and autism. As a speech therapist in this sector, you will be expected to focus on social skills to improve the student’s language and speech abilities.

speak graphical illustration

What Is The Career Outlook For A Speech Therapist?

Unlike a decade ago where people were not aware of speech disorders such as stuttering, now people are more aware, and this has driven the demand for speech-language pathologists. Demand is also increasing because the survival rate of premature infants has drastically increased and this means a lot of children will suffer from delayed speech.

Career Outlook In Figures

According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 135,000 speech therapists employed in 2014. Of the 135,000, 2 out of 5 worked in schools. Because of the factors mentioned above, employment opportunities for speech therapists are expected to increase with a growth rate of around 21% till 2024.

According to research, one is more likely to work in a school if they possess a certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology. Other factors that may make you attractive in the job market include being bi-lingual or having experience taking care of children with special needs such as autism. This is because they help to improve the communication capabilities and social skills.

What Is The Average Salary Of A Speech Pathologist?

According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a speech pathologist was $71,550 in the year 2014. Speech pathologists hired by agencies are paid an annual wage of around $95,170. Lucrative states to work for include Nevada and New York where the average salary is about $86,980 and $86, 370 respectively.

Why Every School Needs A Speech Therapist

Speech pathologists play an essential role in the development of children in school especially those with the following conditions;

  • Autism
  • Development delays
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Premature Birth

Importance Of A Speech Therapist To Schools

To Be Part Of Special Education Teams

Speech pathologists form part of the special education teams that are required to evaluate a student to determine whether they require special education. This evaluation is only made when the teacher or a legal guardian makes a request.

Writing IEPS

This stands for individual education plans. This plan is only written after the therapist determines that the student has a speech problem. An IEP is important to a student as it acts as a roadmap for the student to achieve his/her goals.

Conducting Therapy Sessions

Speech pathologists are the only ones qualified to have a therapy session with a special need child. This helps the children to develop their linguistic and cognitive skills.

Participation In Research Projects

This is an educative research project carried out with the primary aim of trying to find solutions for special need children.

To Solve Language And Literacy Problems

This applies to students who have problems understanding what the teacher is trying to teach. Such students have a problem related to writing and reading, and this is why it is essential to have a speech pathologist.

Solves The Problem Of Stuttering

Stuttering in children undermines their self-esteem. In most cases, such students are reserved, and this impacts their social skills as they do not talk to their friends or answer classroom questions.

Treats Cognitive Communication Disorders

A qualified clinician is the only one to treat cognitive-communication disorders. The speech pathologists will try to improve the cognitive capabilities of the child so that the child can have a better memory.

man using tin can to speak

Why You Should Be A School Based Speech Pathologist

  • You get to help special need children for them to grow and develop normally
  • You get to enjoy summer vacations
  • The pay is great when compared to elementary teachers
  • You get to see children grow and develop for at least six years
  • You work  with children who have been abandoned by their families and society
  •  You will foster social justice
  • As a speech pathologist, you will be entitled to fun field trips
  • You get the freedom to wear Jeans if you so desire to wear one
  • You will also walk around with a cute apron


A career as a speech-language pathologist is a fulfilling career as you get to help children by diagnosing and treating them. You create and impact the social world through social justice. Having a speech therapist in schools can help with speech and language development for many kids. This can improve their communication skills and confidence in class and during social interactions. Keep in mind that proper speech can also improve the academic performance of kids.

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