A speech pathology degree is part of communications disorders studies. Other areas of study are health degrees in communication disorders, degree programs in audiology, and communication disorders and speech language pathology. A degree in communication disorders can lead to a career in health care, speech therapy, medicine, research, education etc. Students are prepared students to diagnose and treat various speech and hearing disorders in children, elderly, and patients who have suffered hearing and speech trauma. Graduate programs in communication disorders prepare a student for certification, licensure masters programs, and most of the training is clinical and hands-on. Graduate students work in regulated environment, diagnosing, treating, and caring for people with communication disorders. Certification is reviewed by the a national professional organization – the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Speech Pathology Education and Training
The goal of communication disorder degree programs is to provide a fundamental understanding speech, language, and hearing processes, in addition to preparing students in the program to diagnose specific communication disorders.
Experience with alternative forms of communication, such for example as American Sign Language (ASL), can help a student gain valuable perspective on how to work with patients with communication disorders. Speech pathology degree courses may include:
- Speech and Language Disorders
- Speech Science
- Anatomy and Physiology of the Ear
The speech pathology curriculum usually includes diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of communication disorders which affect hearing, speech, and language. Other communication disorders courses that may be required are in the sciences and humanities such as mathematics, biology, and the social sciences.
Most graduate communication disorders programs require at least two years of study. Graduation from the program usually includes licensure and certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
In addition, speech pathology programs prepare students to earn necessary licenses required in their state. The Ph.D. in communication disorders is mainly a research degree where a student works closely with a faculty mentor or advisor. The program mainly required a combination of coursework, research, and teaching.
Speech Pathology Careers
Almost 10% of the population shows signs of communication disorders, for example hearing, hence the need for trained professionals in the fields.Students in speech pathology programs can anticipate careers as:
- Speech pathologists
- Special education teachers
- Deaf studies
- Private school administrators
- Speech and hearing therapists
Areas that speech language pathology professionals work include:
- Speech pathology clinics
- Audiology clinics
- Hearing clinics
- Aphasia clinics
- Language clinics
- Community service clinics
- Grammar school specialty clinics
- Research labs
- Rehabilitation clinics
- Nursing homes
- Private practice
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Colleges and universities
- State and local health departments
- Home health agencies
- Long-term facilities
- Private industry nonprofit clinics
Some speech audiologists and pathologists focus on diagnosing and treating infants born with communication disorders, while other professionals may choose to concentrate on preventing the degradation of elderly patients’ ability to communicate. Others work with clients and patients who have suffered trauma for examples in accidents. Federal legislation mandates speech, language and hearing professionals in public schools.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Growth
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates close to 30% increase in anticipated jobs by 2012. With a speech pathology degree, the annual income for communication disorders professional ranges from $45,000 to $160,000 annually. According to Salary.com, the middle 50% of speech-language pathologists earn between $61,464 and $73,077 annually, with the top 10% over $78,761. Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow 19% percent by 2018.
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