Are you wondering how to become a speech therapist? Well, you’re one step closer than you probably think!
Our, and many others’, interest was first piqued when Domo Wilson, a YouTuber and rapper, shared her son’s speech delay problems on Twitter. The outpouring of support from fans prompted other parents to share their children’s experiences, as well.
And many followers discovered speech therapy as a possible career path for the very first time.
But if you decide to pursue this career path, you need to understand that it’s not just about getting a degree and making money. While becoming a speech therapist is a stable job, it also offers the opportunity to impact lives in extremely rewarding ways.
Do you have what it takes?
What Is a Speech Therapist?
To learn how to become a speech therapist, you first need to have a basic understanding of the job itself. Speech therapists are licensed communication experts that diagnose and treat people with speech, language, and voice problems.
Speech therapists work with people of all ages, either on a one-on-one or group basis. Typically, they work in hospitals, private practices, schools, physician and pediatrician offices, and rehabilitation centers.
And just how important are they to society? Very.
Why Do People Go to Speech Therapy?
Speech therapists are essential to society not because they treat a variety of communication disorders, but also because they can help treat swallowing and breathing problems.
Let’s take a closer look at the importance of speech therapy:
It promotes effective communication
Speech or language therapy may be the only way for a non-verbal child to learn to communicate effectively.
Through the aid of professional counseling, technology, books, and other specialized aids, a child who struggles to speak or can’t speak can develop different ways to communicate.
Adults diagnosed with speech problems also benefit from speech and language therapy.
It teaches language and reading
In learning how to become a speech therapist, you’ll soon discover that it’s not all about speech. It’s also about language.
Because of this, topics like grammatical structure, comprehension, and pronoun usage are at the forefront of therapy.
Speech therapists also teach proper reading and pronunciation and equip clients with every tool they may need to communicate out in the real world.
It helps develop social skills
Limited or total absence of speech obviously hinders communication. But, subsequently, it can also affect one’s ability to develop healthy social skills.
Speech therapists use various methods to target problems related to social skills. These can include role-playing, storytelling, video modeling, computer software, and other tools.
What to Expect from Your Career as a Speech Therapist
So, what does a typical workday look like for a speech therapist?
You can’t learn about how to become a speech therapist without focusing on the nitty-gritty of the daily work. As a speech therapist, responsibilities can include:
- Diagnosing and treating disorders related to language, speech, and swallowing
- Creating personalized therapy plans that match clients’ lifestyles, goals, and health needs
- Performing specialized screenings and checkups to detect speech and voice disorders
- Educating parents and guardians on how to approach their loved ones’ speech disorder
- Keeping detailed records of client progression, recommendations, and future care plans
Now, are you ready to learn how to become a speech therapist and achieve the career of your dreams?
How to Become a Speech Therapist
At this point, you’re probably here because you’d like to know how to become a speech therapist.
Well, here’s everything you need to know:
Pursue a bachelor’s degree
Your journey to becoming a speech therapist starts with obtaining a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders or a related subject.
This degree will help you understand the science behind communication, communication disorders, their underlying causes, and their treatment.
In the United States, there are currently about 272 universities and colleges that offer speech-language pathology programs. These programs also help develop new strategies and technologies for diagnosis and rehabilitation.
When selecting a school, make sure it’s accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology (CAA). Also, check your state for additional licensing regulations.
Earn a master’s degree in speech pathology
In some states, you’ll also need to obtain a master’s degree before you can even apply for your state license.
Make sure to enroll in a school accredited by the CAA. An accredited master’s degree equips you with the tools and education needed to become a fully licensed, practicing speech pathologist.
Master’s programs will cover topics slike neurological substrates, voice articulation, literacy, and phonology.
Many also require at least 400 hours of supervised clinical practicums, 25 hours of clinical observation, and 375 hours of direct patient or client interaction.
Before graduation, you may be required to participate in 36 weeks of clinical fellowship, as well.
Apply for state-level certification
The next step is to complete your state’s speech pathology certification. The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) offers CCC-SLP certification to aspiring speech therapists who have completed the state-required education.
To be eligible for this certification, you must have a graduate degree from a school accredited by the CAA. Also, you should have completed each of the following:
- All supervised clinical requirements
- Clinical fellowship
- Receive a passing score on the nationwide Praxis Exam
If you plan to pursue a career within the school system, you’ll also need to have a teaching certificate. Contact the Department of Education in your state for local regulations.
Start your career as a speech therapist
Once you complete the above requirements and land your first job, you can officially call yourself a speech therapist! However, your education doesn’t stop here.
To renew your license, some states require a certain number of Continuing Education Units. This requirement can be satisfied with classroom coursework, projects, seminars, workshops, and more.
No matter your state’s requirements, though, continuing education is crucial to providing the best care to your patients.
What Does the Future Hold for Your Career as a Speech Therapist?
Now that you’ve learned how to become a speech therapist, is this career path really worth the time and education?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, speech therapy jobs are expected to grow 18 percent by 2026. Also, the median yearly salary is $77,510 per year, making this profession more lucrative than average.
In the end, though, your desire to help and care for people is most important when it comes to pursuing a career as a speech therapist.
Why do you want to become a speech therapist? Share your thoughts in the comments below!