Essential Information About Speech Therapists
Speech therapists, or speech-language pathologists, generally diagnose language, speech, and swallowing disorders in their patients and then create treatment plans that help those patients improve their oral and written communications. There are several steps you must complete to become a speech therapist, some of which can be completed online, such as earning an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree. However, obtaining state certification to practice in the profession typically cannot be done online. The chart below shows the required skills, job growth, and salary expectations for speech-language pathologists.
|Required Skills||Communication, critical thinking, compassion, analytical skills|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||27%|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$77,510|
Source *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Become a Speech Therapist Online
While a majority of the steps to become a speech therapist can be done mostly online, many of these steps also have a real-world component. It's important that you receive training in the field, which means that becoming a speech therapist involves hours of clinical experience and internships, which cannot be done in an online setting.
Step 1: Obtain an Online Bachelor's Degree
Your first step to becoming a speech therapist is earning an online bachelor's degree. One major requirement for speech therapists is obtaining an advanced graduate degree, so you want to make sure the online undergraduate degree program you choose prepares you for a speech-language pathology or communication disorder master's program. Therefore, you should ideally choose an online Bachelor's in Communication Science and Disorders degree program or something closely related.
Also, most graduate programs in communication science and disorder and speech pathologist programs require prerequisite undergraduate coursework in language development, audiology, and other related subjects. While online Bachelor's in Communication Science and Disorders degree programs consist of online classes, some might also require real-world clinical observations or case-study activities.
Step 2: Obtain an Online Master's Degree
Next, you need to earn an online master's degree. It's highly recommended that you choose a speech-language pathology graduate program that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA), as most states require that your graduate degree be accredited by this organization to obtain state certification. There are several kinds of online speech therapist master's degrees you can earn, including the Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. Online speech therapist programs usually consist of online coursework but also typically require real-world clinical internships.
Step 3: Obtain State Certification
To practice as a speech therapist, you must obtain certification, licensure, or registration, which is a process that cannot be done online. First, it's recommended that you obtain the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), which is offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This certification usually satisfies all or most of the certification or licensure standards for most states. The CCC-SLP certification requires a graduate degree from an accredited program, 1600+ hours of clinical experience, a passing grade on the Praxis Examination in Speech-Language Pathology, and continuing education to be completed every 3 years.
As exact licensure varies by state, it's best that to check with the health licensure or medical board of your state regarding exact licensing requirements. Also, if you choose to work in a school setting, you may be required to earn teacher certification as well.