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Speech-Language Pathologists Career

Career Description

Assess and treat persons with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. May select alternative communication systems and teach their use. May perform research related to speech and language problems.

What Job Titles Speech-Language Pathologists Might Have

  • Speech and Language Specialist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Speech Therapist
  • Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

What Speech-Language Pathologists Do

  • Monitor patients' progress and adjust treatments accordingly.
  • Develop or implement treatment plans for problems such as stuttering, delayed language, swallowing disorders, or inappropriate pitch or harsh voice problems, based on own assessments and recommendations of physicians, psychologists, or social workers.
  • Write reports and maintain proper documentation of information, such as client Medicaid or billing records or caseload activities, including the initial evaluation, treatment, progress, and discharge of clients.
  • Participate in and write reports for meetings regarding patients' progress, such as individualized educational planning (IEP) meetings, in-service meetings, or intervention assistance team meetings.
  • Evaluate hearing or speech and language test results, barium swallow results, or medical or background information to diagnose and plan treatment for speech, language, fluency, voice, or swallowing disorders.
  • Complete administrative responsibilities, such as coordinating paperwork, scheduling case management activities, or writing lesson plans.
  • Develop individual or group activities or programs in schools to deal with behavior, speech, language, or swallowing problems.
  • Instruct clients in techniques for more effective communication, such as sign language, lip reading, or voice improvement.
  • Administer hearing or speech and language evaluations, tests, or examinations to patients to collect information on type and degree of impairments, using written or oral tests or special instruments.
  • Educate patients and family members about various topics, such as communication techniques or strategies to cope with or to avoid personal misunderstandings.
  • Supervise or collaborate with therapy team.
  • Teach clients to control or strengthen tongue, jaw, face muscles, or breathing mechanisms.
  • Participate in conferences, training, continuing education courses, or publish research results to share knowledge of new hearing or speech disorder treatment methods or technologies.
  • Consult with and refer clients to additional medical or educational services.
  • Communicate with non-speaking students, using sign language or computer technology.
  • Consult with and advise educators or medical staff on speech or hearing topics, such as communication strategies or speech and language stimulation.
  • Design, develop, or employ alternative diagnostic or communication devices or strategies.
  • Develop speech exercise programs to reduce disabilities.
  • Conduct lessons or direct educational or therapeutic games to assist teachers dealing with speech problems.
  • Use computer applications to identify or assist with communication disabilities.
  • Provide communication instruction to dialect speakers or students with limited English proficiency.
  • Conduct or direct research on speech or hearing topics and report findings for use in developing procedures, technologies, or treatments.

What Speech-Language Pathologists Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

What Speech-Language Pathologists Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

What Speech-Language Pathologists Need to Learn

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Diploma iconThis career requires a graduate degree.
Median Salary: $74,680

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.