The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that training and education requirements for speech therapy aides can vary by state, and that their area of clinical care is more restricted than that of other support staff, like speech therapy assistants (www.asha.org). Those studying to become speech therapy aides should expect to work under the supervision of licensed or certified speech-language pathologists.
Students who want to pursue careers as speech therapy aides online can enroll in four-year bachelor's degree programs in communication disorders, which are available at public and private universities or colleges. Majors with speech therapy courses include communication disorders. Schools may require that applicants have a previously earned associate's degree to be eligible for admission. These bachelor's degree programs should help students work as aides in speech therapy settings and may also be used as a stepping stone to graduate studies in speech-language pathology.
The online availability of these programs requires a blended format. In-person requirements entail observation experience. Students who are looking for an option that is fully online in a related field can look into psychology programs.
Program Information and Requirements
Communication disorders majors may have an observation requirement. For online students, this kind of study may be individually arranged with the instructor. This observation experience can take place locally near the student's home community. Proctored exams at an approved local setting may also be required. Outside of these program components, students can complete assignments, view lectures and interact with classmates or instructors in a virtual classroom in their own time.
Online bachelor's programs in communication disorders require general education coursework, which may have been previously completed in an associate's degree program. Courses in subjects like statistics could have math prerequisites. Subjects typically covered in these online undergraduate programs include the following:
- Language and hearing development
- Anatomy for speech and hearing
- Articulation disorders
- Speech acoustics
- Communicative disorder assessment and treatment
Continuing Education Information
Speech therapy aides who hold a bachelor's degree in communication disorders or a related field may return to school for a 3-year online or hybrid master's degree program in speech-language pathology. It typically satisfies the educational requirements for becoming a state-licensed or ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist, although there may be additional steps in the licensing or certification process. Online students sometimes have to participate in periodic on-campus clinical programs as well as local clinical training.
Online programs for speech therapy aides are usually provided in a blended format so students get the hands-on experience they need. Topics that are studied in these programs include phonetics, audiology and speech acoustics. A related program in psychology can be taken fully online.