Speech therapists, usually called speech-language pathologists, study and treat speech and communication disorders that affect their patients. Practicing speech therapists generally complete a master’s degree in the field.
Speech therapy training programs involve language and speech pathology studies in a 2-3 year master’s degree program. In these programs students learn relevant anatomy and physiology as well as linguistic, phonology, and communication assessment skills. After didactic coursework students complete 20-40 hours of on-site supervised clinical training. Upon graduation and certification from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association speech therapists can work in a variety of medical fields such as hospitals or private practices.
- Program Levels in Speech Therapy: Bachelor’s degree, master’s degree
- Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree with coursework in biological sciences and communications.
- Didactic Course Work: Physiology, anatomy, linguistics, phonology, communication assessment and scientific methods.
- Clinical Training: 20-40 hours of on-site, supervised training for degree completion; one year supervised practice in an entry level position before becoming eligible to practice. independently.
Master’s Program in Speech Pathology
Master’s programs in speech and language pathology are the generally accepted standard for practicing speech therapists. Such programs are accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation, which is a division of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). A large number of programs are available at educational institutions affiliated with medical schools.
A master’s program is usually completed in 2-3 years and offers advanced academic coursework, opportunity to conduct original research and extensive clinical experience. Didactic coursework includes anatomy and physiology, phonetics, linguistics and phonology, scientific methods and communication assessment.
Licensure and Certifications
Most state professional regulatory boards require speech and language pathologists to have a master’s degree plus at least 300 hours of supervised clinical experience to obtain licensure. Master’s programs usually must be accredited by ASHA. Many states require successful completion of the ASHA national certification exam. A varying number of continuing education hours are required in order to maintain licensure.
Workshops and Seminars
ASHA offers an annual convention each year and sponsors numerous other educational events for speech-language pathologists. Web-based seminars and online modules are available monthly with topics appropriate for clinical and school-based practitioners. As a medical field, there are continual changes in treatment methods and therefore continuing education is necessary to stay up to date.
Additional Professional Development
ASHA provides a substantial number of services for its members, and works to accredit practitioners in order to ensure they are eligible for state licensure. The professional organization has more than 130,000 members. To become a certified member, pathologists must earn a graduate degree, complete 400 hours of clinical observation and practice, and successfully complete the Praxis examination. The clinical practice must be supervised by a currently certified speech-language pathologist.
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