Online Speech Pathology Degree

Speech pathology is an important field that deals with various speech disorders and disabilities. A speech disorder is an impairment of voice and the articulation of speech sounds. Maintenance of fluency is often difficult, and conversation tasks can be both daunting and overwhelming. Those who suffer from a speech disorder often face obstacles like stuttering or a lisp. A speech pathologist helps in the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. They study effective treatment plans and provide appropriate information to patients and their families.

In order to become a speech pathologist, one must earn a degree in the field or specialize in speech pathology. Depending on your career and educational goals, there are many degree options that prospective speech pathologists can choose from. You an earn a Bachelor of Science in communication studies with a specialization in speech pathology or a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics. You even have the option of taking classes online. These courses may include phonetics, audiology, literacy development, and other similar topics. You’ll learn how to identify, manage, and possibly prevent communication disorders. It’s a field with a promising job outlook, great pay, and personal satisfaction.

Online Speech Pathology Programs

One route to becoming a speech pathologist is earning your degree online, a more convenient and flexible alternative to campus-based programs. Below are some accredited colleges with online programs available.

Ashford University — The applied linguistics program at Ashford University instructs students in such topics as how language can best be learned, social factors that affect language learning, and how technology can contribute to effective learning. Graduates of this program work as teachers, speech therapists, audiologists, translation and interpretation experts, marketers, and journalists.

Concordia University - Portland — Concordia University offers a dynamic Curriculum and Instruction English Language Development program. This program is a full year, completely online program designed to build on a teacher's knowledge and skills in developing student learning opportunities for underdeveloped native English speakers. Courses understand the fundamental structure of language and communication.

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Speech Pathology Defined

Speech pathology is the study of speech and language disorders. Someone who helps those suffering from speech problems is called speech pathologist or speech therapist. Speech pathology studies areas such as resonance, intonation, pitch, semantics and pragmatics.

There are many career paths to explore with a degree in speech pathology. The main areas of study for speech pathologists are cognitive speech communication, sensory awareness as it relates to the vocal chords, mouth and throat, language and speech. Therapists work with patients to develop new sounds, correct sounds and learn how to communicate effectively through written and speech communication. Besides standard quantitative and qualitative assessment methods, speech therapists also use instruments to help people learn new ways to communicate.

The degrees below can help set you on the right path towards a career in speech pathology.

Is Speech Pathology on the Rise?

There is considerable growth expected for qualified speech pathologists. Many speech pathologists work freelance with individual clients who are correcting speech impairment. This is a booming industry for working with small children whose parents notice a delay in speech development or issues with speech. Speech pathologists are one of the specialists who will experience the most growth in job opportunities in the next decade. Speech pathologists are employed by many different sources. This is a field that is growing in both urban and rural areas throughout the United States and Canada. Speech therapists work with developmental speech problems, lost speech and speech impairment brought on by an accident. Regular therapy can result in recovering and correcting speech issues.

Can I Work at a School as a Speech Pathologist?

Those hoping to work in education with speech pathology will usually be employed by the district as a contract employee. Seldom will an individual school have a speech pathologist on staff. The speech pathologist goes from school to school, working with individual students as often as once a week and as little as once a month. This schedule primarily depends on a school’s budget. The speech pathologist may also work with private clients while being employed by a school district. Speech pathologists can also come in to schools for parent and teacher workshops to teach simple exercises to improve diction and speech in young children.

What Do I Major in to Become a Speech Pathologist?

A common degree for speech pathologists is a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. This is the bachelor’s degree many who plan to become speech pathologists obtain. Though you may work in the school system, most speech pathologists do not obtain teaching or education degrees of any sort. Instead the focus is on the applied sciences and helping those with speech impairments correct their speech through exercises and proven techniques.

Do I Need a Master’s Degree?

All speech pathologists are required to have a master’s degree. In order to get into a master’s program, you need a bachelor’s degree in a related science field and the GRE and a letter of recommendation. Though speech pathology master’s programs are not new, there’s a limited number of programs compared to students hoping to study the field. It can be very competitive to get into a master’s program. The rise in a need for speech pathologists are causing more schools to add this to the degree programs offered.

What Certification Do I Need?

Speech pathologists must be certified by two organizations. The first is the Clinical Competence in Speech and Language Pathology certification (CCC-SLP) and the second is the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. There is also a national written and speech and pathology exam you must take to practice as a speech pathologist. To become certified by the CCC-SLP, a master’s student must have 300-400 hours working with speech impaired students. These hours are completed under the supervision of a certified practicing speech therapist. This portion of the master’s program is referred to as clinicals, similar to the clinicals a doctor or nurse completes.

Do Speech Pathologists Only Work With Children?

Speech pathologists work with anyone who has a speech impairment. This may be a child, but it can also be an adult or elderly person. The elderly are a group that greatly benefit from speech pathologists after dealing with a stroke, brain injury or other medical condition that prevents them from speaking correctly. Speech pathologists are on the rise partly due to an aging baby boomer generation who are expected to need significant speech therapy in the coming decade.

Are Speech Pathology Positions Growing in Schools?

The rapid increase of special needs students has caused speech pathology to come to the forefront of school concerns. Many private schools and public schools that receive a large amount of state funding sometimes have a speech therapist on staff. This therapist may work with individual students or small groups of students to improve speech impairments. This is happening most at early childhood development centers and child care centers within a district. The importance of detecting speech impairment early on has become an issue since studies show impairments caught early can be corrected fairly easily with the proper therapy.

Where Else Can I Work as Speech Pathologist?

Because fewer healthcare companies are covering speech therapy, these positions are now contracted out to therapists. Instead of having a therapist on staff at a hospital, the therapist will receive a sizeable contract that agrees to working a certain number of hours at the facility per week. This allows the therapist to see their own private clients, while also treating patients through the hospital or medical facility. This is a lucrative position for a speech pathologist and also allows them to network with patients who may seek their services outside of the hospital. You can also work at a rehabilitation center or nursing home. In most of these cases, you will be on contract and called to the facility as needed or have part time hours at the facility. You may also educate staff members at these places for practicing easy vocal exercises with patients when they are not in session with you. These exercises contribute greatly to a person’s speech development and improvement. The constant practice of these movements will help with the work a patient does when in treatment with the therapist.

How Much Will I Earn as Speech Pathologist?

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, speech-language pathologists earned a mean annual wage of $72,000 in May 2011. Those working in elementary and secondary schools earned $66,000. Salaries will vary, according to many different factors such as where you live and who you work for. Also, a master’s degree often leads to increased earning potential and more lucrative job offers.

Where to Earn a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology

Most students enroll in a Master of Speech-Language Pathology to work as a speech pathologist. This program usually lasts two to four years, depending on the area of specialization for the student. The master’s degree alone will not qualify you to work as a speech pathologist. Following your master’s degree, you will still have to sit for additional exams and become certified to work. If you end up working for a school, you may be required to take exams for their position in addition to providing the district with your speech pathologist certification. Certification for speech pathology is good throughout the United States, though any tests taken for working in schools will vary by state.

Other Things to Know About Speech Pathology

There is a large demand for Spanish speaking speech pathologists. The growing number of Hispanic people in the United States means more children with speech impairments. There is also a large number of elderly Hispanic people who can benefit from bilingual speech pathologists. If you fit this position, you will be able to land large contracts from hospitals and clinics offering this service to patients. While this will be needed throughout the United States, the areas that will need it most are California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. If you are willing to relocate, you will have very good chances of finding high paying jobs as a speech therapist in these states.

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