Speech language pathologists (SLPs) diagnose and treat children and adults with speech, language, and hearing disorders, including stuttering, deafness, and disorders caused by brain injuries. The master's degree program teaches students about common speech language disorders and methods of treating patients, such as counseling and speech therapy.
Students learn about professionalism and ethics in the field of speech language pathology, and how to communicate effectively with patients who may have little or no hearing capabilities or speech. Students complete internships in schools and medical facilities, a graduate thesis, and a supervised practicum before beginning a 400-hour clinical fellowship.
Graduates of these programs qualify to test for professional certification from ASLHA. Most states require speech language pathologists to be licensed, and this certification meets most or all of the requirements.
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Speech Therapy Certification and Certificate Program
Students in this program complete between 54 and 60 units of coursework in speech language pathology dealing particularly with methods of assessment and treatment. Common courses in this program include:
- Speech disorders
- Language disorders
- Speech language counseling
- Adolescent speech disorders
- Adolescent learning disabilities
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), speech language pathologists held over 131,400 jobs in the United States in 2015 (www.bls.gov). This number is projected to grow by 21% from 2014 to 2024. Job growth in this field is attributed to an aging population and improvements in speech pathology services. The mean annual salary for a speech language pathologist in 2015 was $76,900.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
A Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology degree program culminates in a one-year clinical fellowship that leads to a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology. This fellowship program trains future SLPs in the areas of patient care, diagnosis and treatment. Certificate candidates work in medical facilities and complete clinical requirements under the supervision of a mentor. The fellowship typically requires up to 400 clinical hours, most of which is spent working directly with patients.
Graduates who hold a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology are eligible for ASLHA certification. Certification by the ASLHA requires passing scores on the Praxis Series exam, which is offered through the Educational Testing Service. Licensing requirements for speech language pathologists vary by state.
Speech language pathologists typically hold master's degrees due to the complexity of the job, the clinical hours needed and the certification hours prior to graduation. Students should be aware of state requirements because they will vary.