To be a speech pathologist, you must complete an associate's degree program, and states often require licensure in addition. This position involves working with patients under a speech pathologist to treat disorders related to speech.
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Speech pathology involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to speech, language and fluency. Speech pathology assistants work directly under licensed speech pathologists, aiding them in their daily responsibilities. While an associate's degree is typically acceptable for a position as a speech pathology assistant, certain states require further education to meet licensure requirements.
|Required Education||Associate's degree is typical; bachelor's degree needed in some states|
|Licensure||Required in some states|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||N/A, though speech-language pathologists should see 21% growth|
|Median Salary (2015)**||$38,980 for speech-language pathology assistants|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Speech Pathology Assistant Job Description and Duties
Speech pathology assistants work in numerous settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics and long-term health care facilities. They can perform many tasks delegated by speech pathologists, such as assisting in hearing screenings and checking equipment. Speech pathology assistants also are permitted to follow documented treatment plans created by licensed pathologists and to informally document a patient's performance. Other tasks might include research assistance and aiding in the creation and maintenance of public relations programs.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the professional credentialing association for audiologists, speech pathologists and hearing scientists, has laid out rules and regulations to prevent the misuse of speech pathology assistants. Prohibited tasks include signing of formal documents, performing diagnostic tests, participating in conferences of any type and creating treatment plans without the supervision of a licensed speech pathologist.
Salary Outlook and Employment Info
PayScale.com reported in January 2016 that the median annual salary for speech-language pathology assistants was $38,980 at that time. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide job growth data for assistants, it does predict 21% growth for speech-language pathologists from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Since speech-language pathology assistants work in tandem with pathologists, this figure may provide some insight into their job growth as well.
Educational Requirements for Speech Pathology Assistants
While there is no standard degree requirement for a position as a speech pathology assistant, the ASHA recommends completing at least an associate's degree program. Typical coursework covers communication disorders, normal communication processes and workplace behaviors. Speech pathology assistants also may be required to complete a certain amount of fieldwork before being fully acknowledged in their profession.
State Requirements for Speech Pathology Assistants
States have varying educational requirements for speech pathology assistants, with some requiring a bachelor's degree and graduate-level courses. In addition to differences in educational requirements, regulations regarding the employment of speech pathology assistants vary from state to state. While some entirely prohibit the use of speech pathology assistants, other states license them through their educational boards and limit their practice to schools and learning institutions.
Speech pathology assistants get to do many tasks of a speech pathologist, but not all. They typically complete an associate's degree program that covers communication disorders and often includes a hands-on or field component. Job growth for licensed speech pathologists is expected to be much faster than average for the next decade, which should be mirrored by speech pathology assistants.