Speech language pathologists help people who never developed the ability to speak, as well as those who lost this ability due to illness or injury. This could include an infant born with developmental delays, cleft palate, or cerebral palsy, or an adult who suffered a stroke or brain injury. Speech language pathologists diagnose, treat, and help prevent speech disorders in patients. They also assist those who have hearing or swallowing problems. For those considering entering the field, professional training doesn’t begin until the graduate level, as a master’s degree in speech language pathology is necessary to become certified and practice. Because speech language pathologists have to be licensed or certified to practice, we recommend applying to accredited online degree programs to ensure that you meet eligibility requirements to take any necessary credentialing exams.
Online Master’s Degree Programs for Speech Language Pathology
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), speech language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree. Students may come from all types of backgrounds, though those without a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as communication sciences and disorders, will likely have to take prerequisite courses before starting an online degree program in speech language pathology. Accelerated online degree programs may also be an option for those who know upon applying to online bachelor degree programs that they want to pursue speech language pathology. In online masters degree programs students take courses in subjects such as anatomy and physiology of the auditory and vestibular systems, audiologic assessment, and human communication to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to work in a variety of clinical settings with a variety of clients. The best online degree programs require a certain number of hours spend in a clinical practicum or externship to gain hands-on experience.
Online Doctoral Degree Programs for Speech Language Pathology
Speech language pathologists eager to advance their careers and work in administration, supervision, or education would benefit from a doctoral degree. Online degree programs for speech language pathology at the doctorate level may develop leadership skills in such areas as program evaluation, supervision, administration, and technology. They may also train students in a specialty area of speech language pathology, academic research, or advanced clinical practice. Unlike a master’s program, a doctorate is not necessary to enter the profession, though the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association notes that the doctoral level of preparation may be essential in some settings, such as advanced clinical practice.
Online Degree Programs in Speech Language Pathology in the Work Place
Graduates of speech language pathology programs may go on to work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, or private practices, working with patients who range from infants to the elderly. They may also manage agencies, clinics, or private practices; conduct research; direct school or clinical programs; or establish more effective treatments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most speech language pathologists work in schools. In 2010, 44% of speech language pathologists were employed by elementary and secondary schools, followed by offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists (15%); hospitals (13%); nursing care facilities (4%); and home healthcare services (3%).
Employment of speech language pathologists is expected to grow 23% from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the average growth of all occupations, according to the BLS. This growth is anticipated due to several factors. For example, the aging baby-boomer population is likely to have more instances of health conditions, such as hearing loss or stroke, which can cause speech or language impairments and require treatment from these specialists. Increased awareness of speech and language disorders in young children should increase demand for speech language pathology services as well. Speech language pathologists can expect to earn from $42,970 to $103,630, with the median annual wage $66,902 as of May 2010, according to the BLS. Exact salary and job availability will depend on your education, prior work experience, employer, and location.