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Speech Language Pathologist

What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do?

Speech-language pathologists evaluate, treat, and research all types of communication disorders in both children and adults. They help people with speech disorders to develop the communication skills needed for self-expression, social interaction, academic success and employment. Specific tasks include:

  • Identifying speech, language, voice and fluency disorders;
  • Planning, directing, and conducting therapy for impairments;
  • Providing guidance and counseling to patients and their families;
  • Consulting with other professionals concerned with the patient’s welfare, such as physicians, psychologists, physical therapists, social workers and teachers;
  • Recording the method of treatment and the patient’s progress;
  • Acting as a consultant to educational, medical, and other professional groups;
  • Maintaining confidentiality

How Do I Become a Speech Language Pathologist?

Most entry-level positions in speech-language pathology require a master's degree. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends that undergraduates prepare for graduate work by pursuing a broad liberal arts degree with an emphasis in communications, sciences and disorders. Master's degree programs typically last 2-2 1/2 years and may require a thesis. Speech-language pathologists who want to teach or conduct research need a PhD. Speech-language pathologists must be licensed by the Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology in the Virginia Department of Health Professionals. The Board may grant a license to an applicant who has a current and unrestricted Certificate of Clinical Competence in speech-language pathology issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and has a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited college or university and passes a qualifying examination approved by the Board. Licensure as a school speech-language pathologist requires a master's degree in speech language pathology and an endorsement in speech-language pathology by the Virginia Department of Education.

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