What to Know About Being a Speech Therapist

Informally known as a speech therapist these are the people that help people with speech impairments.  Formally, they are called speech-language pathologist.  They help with impairments ranging from stuttering, trouble clearly speaking, and sometimes neurogenic diseases.  Being a speech therapist can turn out to be one of the most rewarding and satisfying jobs for anyone.  It has become a growing career field with future projections of continuous growth.  As of right now there are over 100,000 jobs available and counting.  If you want to be a speech therapist here are some things you want to know.

Like any job there’s a personality that fits for that job.  To be a speech therapist you must be organized in someway.  There’s going to be paperwork about patients to keep track of and  they’re progress.  Not only that, but you must be adaptable and flexible to both their schedule and their patients.  The patients will range from ages and walks of life and they all must be treated differently.  With that you need to be open minded, compassionate, and understanding.  This will help your patients feel more comfortable and open with you.

To be a speech therapist you also need an education.  Almost all speech therapists have a master’s degree in speech therapy where they’ll study communication, development, and disorders within humans.  A license and certificate is also required after acquiring the speech therapy degree.  Every state in the U.S. requires practicing speech therapists to have a license.  The ASHA, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association requires a certificate of competency for therapists.

Many people are quick to ask how much money does a speech therapist make.  A therapist can have a salary that ranges from $43,000 to $100,000 with an average of about $60,000 to $72,000.  The salary may start out low and slowly increase with the amount of experience you gain.  It also is influenced based on where you work and the demand for a speech therapist.

Most speech therapists work in elementary and secondary schools, but not all of them.  Others work in the medical field in public or private institutions.  The work there is usually more steady whereas working privately can sometimes be variable based on that demand.  Usually you will work either one on one with the patient.  Other times it may be in a small group or an actual class setting with the patient to help them.

During work speech therapists need to be able to identify the problems either in speech, language, communication, feeding, and swallowing.  To be a speech therapist it is more than just talking.  Some of your patients may also need help with feeding and swallowing, sometimes they need in their reading and writing too.

The tasks speech therapists have to do can range a great deal.  Some therapists work with the hard of hearing or deaf so they are able to better communicate.  Others work with patients that have mental disorders like autism.  These therapists provide what would be considered non-traditional means of helping their patients.  Therapists find an alternative or augmented way to communicate with their patients and pass that information on to the patients parents and/or caregivers.

Since patients abilities and impairments range therapists have learned strategies for better success for their patients.

One of the strategies is language activities.  The therapist will play games and read with their patient dependent on their age.  This is normally for younger patients like children, but this is a method that helps the patient speak more in a positive way.  It will usually be repeated each session with therapist and the therapist will also help with proper vocabulary and grammar also.

The second strategy some therapists have adopted is articulation for the patient.  The therapist will say words and have the patient mimic their words.  They also will teach them how to move their tongue to better say the word or phrase and this will be repeated multiple times with the patient.

Since not all therapists not only help with communication they help people with any issues surrounding the mouth including swallowing and feeding.  The therapist will have a series of exercises for the patient to perform that will help strengthen the muscles around the mouth.

There are many career paths that speech therapists can follow and most feel that it’s satisfying and rewarding.  Being a speech therapist means helping people communicate better with people and make them feel more confident in their abilities regardless of their speech impairment or disorder.

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