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Language Pathologist: Job & Career Info

Find out what language pathologists, otherwise known as speech-language therapists, do. Learn about the education and skills requirements, in addition to the salary and employment outlook, to see if this is the career for you.

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Career Definition for a Language Pathologist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), language pathologists assess, diagnose, treat and help to prevent disorders related to speech, language development, cognitive communication, voice, swallowing and fluency in people. Language pathologists develop an individualized plan of care to help patients with their language and speech challenges. Language pathologists also work with the family members of patients to ensure a successful plan of care for the patient.

Required Education Master's degree in speech-language pathology, many of which only require 2 years of study
Job Duties Assessing, diagnosing, treating and helping prevent speech, language development, cognitive communication, voice, swallowing and fluency disorders
Median Salary (2015) $73,410 for speech-language pathologists
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 21% growth for speech-language pathologists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Language pathologists should possess a master's degree in speech-language pathology. Because this is a growing field, most colleges and universities offer two-year graduate degree programs in this field once a bachelor's degree program has been completed. Speech pathology courses cover anatomy, physiology and psychological communication courses.

Skills Required

Language pathologists need to be effective communicators. They must have excellent listening skills and the ability to problem solve with patience. Language pathologists must also be able to put learned theory into practice by diagnosing patients and providing feasible treatment.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the BLS, the employment rate for language pathologists is expected to grow by 21 percent from 2014 to 2024. Most language pathologists will find employment opportunities with hospitals, schools and nursing care facilities. The mean annual salary for language pathologists was $73,410 in May 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Recreational Therapist

By earning a bachelor's degree in this or a related field, in addition to a certification, these professionals may seek employment planning and directing activity programs for patients with illnesses or disabilities. About as fast as average job growth of 12%, from 2014-2024, was predicted by the BLS. In 2015, these therapists earned a median annual wage of $45,890, the BLS said.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists must earn a minimum of a master's degree, in addition to licensing, in order to treat patients with injuries and illnesses using daily activities as therapy. The BLS predicted much faster than average employment growth of 27% during the 20142-2024 decade. Occupational therapists, according to the BLS in 2015, earned a median anuual salary of $80,150.

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