Speech therapists (or speech language pathologists) provide rehab to patients in outpatient clinics, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, and schools.
Duties of Speech Therapists:
They are responsible for duties such as completing evaluations determining a patient’s physical abilities, weaknesses, personal needs, and support systems, developing a plan with goals for patients to achieve by the end of their stay in the facility, treatment (usually daily, depending on the setting) addressing weaknesses in the areas of language, cognition, and ability to swallow or consume food, providing input on patient’s readiness for discharge and transition to another level of care (listed above), and making recommendations regarding what diets are safe for a patient to consume and educating other staff on safety regarding this consumption.
Master’s degree in Speech Therapy:
A Master’s degree in Speech Therapy is required to practice as a therapist in the field. This means a Bachelor’s degree in a related field will be required for admission to a graduate program; many aspiring speech therapists choose to major in Communication Science Disorders, as this is good preparation for a graduate program in Speech Therapy.
This graduate program would take 2 years to complete if enrolled full-time. This program is a generalist program, as many other healthcare professions are.
Courses may include neuroscience, feeding and swallowing mechanics, psychology, acoustics, cognitive sciences, and anatomy.
Fieldwork rotations for speech therapists:
Residencies/fieldwork rotations for speech therapists are called fellowships. The duration of these fellowships are two fellowships totaling 36 weeks. This can be completed full-time or part-time according to the student’s schedule and needs, however, a total of 1260 hours must be completed by the end of the graduate program.
This requirement is part of the graduate coursework for a Master’s in Speech Therapy. Once graduated and practicing as a speech therapist, some choose to complete additional fellowship years, earning extra credentials and the ability to take certification exams to further learning.
Specialty areas can be declared once working in the field. These specialty areas include:
- Child language and language disorders
- Fluency and fluency disorders
- Swallowing and swallowing disorders
- Intraoperative monitoring
Salary for speech therapists:
The average salary for speech therapists is $79,000 depending on setting and geographic location.