What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are known by many different titles. The most common are speech therapist, SLP, or speech teacher. Many specialties encompass the field (language, articulation, fluency, voice, swallowing, pediatrics, geriatrics, aphasia) and within each specialty there are more areas of focus related to work environments or diagnoses. Speech-language pathology is a career which offers both wide paths of options and expertise paths of specialties. With all these different paths there are uniting passion points for all SLPs: to enhance communication, increase life function for others, and make a difference in the lives of our clients.

What To Know About All Speech-Language Pathologists

The minimum requirement for education is a Master’s degree. Working in a health-care related environment (clinic, hospital, rehab center) requires a state license and achieving the Clinical Competency Certificate (CCCs) from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Working in an education environment requires state teacher certification for SLPs. Individual states or counties determine whether they require the CCC for school-based SLPs.

Where do SLPs work? Schools, hospitals, private clinics, homes, universities, and more!

Who do SLPs help? Here are just a few examples:

Language: children who are developmentally delayed; stroke patients; brain injury patients; individuals who are delayed in language development due to diagnosis (e.g., autism, Down syndrome)

Articulation: children who are developmentally delayed in attaining articulation skills; teens and adults who want to clarify or modify their speech (e.g., accent reduction, professional speakers)

Voice: individuals with vocal issues such as vocal nodules, vocal polyps, vocal health maintenance, surgery recovery

Fluency: individuals who exhibit stuttering during speech production

Swallowing: individuals who have difficulty with the oral and oral pharyngeal phase of swallowing (manipulating the food, preparing the food for the swallow, swallowing safely and effectively).

As you can see there is a wide range of specialties in this field. Personally, I love the options and freedom to continue to expand and learn in different areas and specialize in my career. There is a lot of knowledge, hard work, creativity, and passion that goes into caring for each child, teen, and adult.

I want to give a personal cheer and applause of thank you, SLPs! Your passion and achievements are making a difference every day in the lives of many people. Each gain you make with a client makes this world a better place because you have touched a heart, mind, and life by empowering them with communication and function. Better Hearing and Speech Month is also a celebration of YOU!

Melanie McGriff, M.Ed., clinic director/owner and speech-language pathologist

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