How Can I Become a Speech Therapy Aide?

Explore the career requirements for speech therapy aides. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and job duties to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Bilingual and Multicultural Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Speech Therapy Aide Do?

Speech therapy aides work with patients who have communication or swallowing disorders to help them develop speech and language skills. They work under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist. After a speech-language pathologist diagnoses a patient and develops a treatment plan, a speech therapy aide will work with the patient to implement the treatment plan and help the patient with their exercises. They will update the patient's records to note their progress. They may also prepare materials, maintain supplies, and schedule treatments, as well as assist in administering tests to patients.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Training Required 25 hours of clinical observation and 75 hours of clinical assisting experience
Education Field of Study Speech-language pathology assistant; speech therapy assistant; communicative disorders
Licensure and/or Certification Some states require licensure
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%-13% (for speech-language pathology assistants)*
Median Salary (2017) $40,383 (for speech therapy assistants)**

Sources: *O*Net, **Payscale.com

What Is a Speech Therapy Aide?

Speech therapy aides, also called speech therapy assistants or speech-language pathology assistants, follow procedures and treatment plans outlined by a licensed speech-language pathologist. A speech-language pathologist diagnoses and treats communication disorders, which often occur alongside other disorders, such as:

  • Autism
  • Down syndrome
  • Learning disabilities
  • Cleft lip/palate
  • Brain Injuries

As a speech therapy aide, you will help a speech-language pathologist provide therapy for clients with these disorders. To become a speech therapy aide, it is essential to be an active listener and skilled communicator. You must be socially sensitive to the reactions of others. You might find a work in schools, daycares, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, or private practices. You may also work with preschool children in underprivileged areas through the Headstart program.

What Should I Study?

You might enroll in a 2-year speech-language pathology assistant program, for which you will need at least a high school diploma or its equivalent in order to enroll. A speech-language pathology assistant curriculum includes basic instruction in speech, language, swallowing, and hearing. You would also be given an overview of the natural, social, and physical sciences. Some programs are designed for students who already have a bachelor's degree in another subject and may have prerequisite courses.

Another option would be to pursue a bachelor's degree in communicative disorders. You would study speech and hearing sciences and gain firsthand knowledge of speech therapy through internships and volunteering.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a speech therapy aide, you would provide support for speech-language and hearing screenings. You might keep records of clients' advancement and prepare materials for therapy sessions. A speech therapy aide also collects data to monitor program quality and manages administrative duties. Speech therapy aides do not have the same range of duties as speech-language pathologists; they cannot diagnose disorders or interpret the results of tests.

What Are the State Licensing Requirements?

The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends that you check your own state's specific licensing requirements to become a speech therapy aide. State licensing laws vary across the country. Maryland, for instance, requires either an associate's degree from a speech-language pathology assistant program or a degree from an allied health field with coursework in speech language. Speech therapy aides must also perform a minimum of 25 hours of clinical observation and 75 hours of clinical assisting experience.

Some states differentiate between speech therapy aides and assistants, in which case an aide would have a smaller range of training and duties. Not all states allow speech therapy aides to practice.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants have many duties that are similar to the work that speech therapy aides do. Occupational therapy aides need an associate's degree, and they work under the supervision of an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy aims to help patients learn daily living and working skills. Once the occupational therapist has assessed a patient and developed a treatment plan, the occupational therapy assistant will work with the patient to help them complete their exercises. They may also work with groups. Physical therapy assistants also implement treatment plans with patients under the supervision of a physical therapist. They help patients recovering from illness or injury with movement and pain management. They may update files or report observations to the physical therapist, and they also need an associate's degree.

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