Speech pathologists evaluate and treat individuals who have language and speech disorders, such as stuttering or communication problems due to illness or injury. Professional speech pathologists often utilize an assistant to help with the everyday duties needed to treat a patient. Individuals who want to pursue a career as a speech pathologist may begin by earning a speech pathology certificate and working as a speech pathology assistant. Becoming a full speech pathologist requires completion of a graduate degree program, as well as state certification. Speech pathologist certification requires a master's degree. Additionally, lab work and fieldwork are required for certification.
Certificate in Speech Pathology
Speech pathology assistants are supervised by certified speech pathologists and help with screenings, progress reports, research projects, treatment plans and data intake. A speech pathology certificate program, which can lead to a career as a speech pathology assistant, can be taken during the latter years of a 4-year bachelor's degree program or after completion of undergraduate studies.
A certificate program in speech pathology prepares students to support speech pathology professionals through comprehensive practical and classroom experience. Students learn about disorders and treatments, communication devices and working with people with impairments such as autism, Down Syndrome or brain injuries. Laboratory work and some supervised fieldwork experience are typical program requirements.
Some speech pathology certificate programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in speech pathology or a related field to be admitted. If an undergraduate degree program has not been completed, most programs require completion of specific general education college courses prior to entry into the program. Other requirements for admission typically include standardized test scores, transcripts and letters of recommendation. A criminal background check will be required for practicum work.
This certificate program introduces students to clinical practice while offering instruction in language disorders and cultural communication. Courses include:
- Pathology and audiology
- Multicultural communication
- American sign language
- Speech and language disorders
- Diction and voice
- Speech and language intervention
Speech Pathology Certification
While each state has it's own certification criteria for speech pathologists, most require a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, graduate degree transcripts and an affidavit of clinical fellowship to apply for certification.
A professional speech pathologist typically holds at least a master's degree in a related field, and some specialize in working with bilingual patients, children or the elderly. A master's degree is the entry-level requirement to be certified as a speech pathologist, according to The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, (www.asha.org). A bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders, or a related field, followed by a master's degree program in speech-language pathology is an example of a typical path for professional certification.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has given states the authority to determine which courses from a graduate program are in line with the standards needed to apply for certification. Course examples include:
- Language development
- Speech and language assessment
- Anatomy and physiology
Salary Info and Employment Outlook
Private practices, hospitals and nursing homes, or any place where a speech pathologist works, may require the help of a speech pathology assistant. As of January 2016, speech-language pathology assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,980, according to PayScale.com. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment is expected to increase by 21% between 2014-2024.
Continuing Education Information and Professional Certification
To work as a speech pathology assistant, graduates must apply for professional certification from their local state boards of examiners for speech-language pathology and audiology following completion of the certification program. Clinical observation documentation, college transcripts and specific classroom hours are typical certification requirements. States vary on the level of education needed for certification (some only require an associate's degree) and continuing education requirements. In addition, not every state permits the use of speech pathology assistants, so potential students should be aware of the applicable laws in the states in which they plan to enter certificate programs.
A certificate program in speech pathology uses related courses and field work to prepare individuals to work with patients that have language and speech disorders or communication problems due to illness or injury. Certification requirements vary slightly from state but most require a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from ASHA.