Speech Therapy Majors: Salary and Career Facts

Speech therapy majors learn to help others overcome speech disorders and help youngsters in their speech development. In most cases, speech therapy is synonymous with speech-language pathology. Get education program and career info, plus licensure and earning details. Schools offering Bilingual and Multicultural Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Speech Therapy Major?

Speech therapy majors focus on key studies in speech therapy while completing their bachelor's degree. They learn about speech disorders that affect people of specific ages, swallowing disorders, and speech and language development. Speech therapy majors often pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist.

Speech-language pathologists assess patients to determine what speech-language or swallowing issues are affecting them. They develop a treatment plan, which may involve exercises to develop the muscles used in speech or swallowing. Speech-language pathologists meet with patients and may help them learn or practice these exercises and monitor their progress. They may need to modify the treatment plan as the patient progresses. As of 2014, 44% of speech-language pathologists worked in education services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nineteen percent worked in medical offices.

Degree Required Master's degree
Training Required Must complete degree from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA)
Key Responsibilities Evaluate patients, diagnose patients, develop treatment plan, maintain files and assess patient progress
Licensure or Certification Licensing is required in most states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 21%*
Average Salary (2015) $76,900*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Speech Pathology?

Aspiring speech therapists and speech therapy assistants major in speech pathology. Speech therapists are also often referred to as speech-language pathologists. Students of speech pathology degree programs study the disorders and diseases that affect speech patterns and the anatomy that creates and perceives speech. As a speech therapist, you'll work with patients in overcoming speech-related disorders and disabilities. In some instances, you will aid patients who've lost their speech or hearing. You may also assist those who have trouble swallowing.

What Does a Major in Speech Therapy Prepare Me To Do?

A bachelor's degree program prepares you for entry-level positions with speech therapy clinics and for furthering your education. Often, speech pathology programs are coupled with audiology programs. The audiology courses focus on the parts of the anatomy that receive sound and the diseases that can affect these parts. In a speech pathology program, you'll learn a general knowledge of anatomy, speech disorders and treatments.

Some of the studies you may come across in your bachelor's degree program include sign language, anatomy, observation, phonetics and speech disorders. You may focus some of your studies on pronunciation, phonetics, vocal rehabilitation, orofacial anomalies and neurology. A bachelor's degree isn't enough to become a licensed speech-language pathologist, but it does qualify you for speech-language pathology assistant positions. As a speech-language pathology assistant, you can work for public school districts, performing screenings and developing therapy plans under the supervision of a licensed pathologist.

Is There Licensure?

Currently, almost all U.S. states require speech pathologists to become licensed. You can earn your licensure through the Praxis Examinations in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. These exams are created by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Master's degrees are often a prerequisite to earning licensure, so you'll probably need to continue your education past the bachelor's degree level. You're also required to complete clinical practicums. Your state may require more or less requirements to practice speech-language pathology, so make sure to check with your state's board for details.

How Much Can I Earn?

Licensed speech-language pathologists earned an annual average of $76,900, according to May 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Depending on the industry setting in which you work, your salary may differ. For example, the bureau notes that those working in elementary and secondary school settings earned an average of $68,150, while the corresponding figure for those working in nursing care facilities was $91,560.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Speech-language pathologists meet with patients, diagnose them, and develop treatment plans for their patients. These tasks are also performed by physical therapists, occupational therapists and audiologists. Audiologists focus on issues related to hearing and balance. They may work with patients who've suffered hearing loss. Occupational therapists specialize in helping patients learn or relearn basic daily skills, such as buttoning shirts or printing. They may work with patients who are recovering from a stroke or other illness or injury. Physical therapists work with individuals affected by illness, injury or disability and help them with their gross motor movements. They may implement exercises designed to reduce pain or improve a patient's ability to walk without assistance. Like speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists need a master's degree. Physical therapists and audiologists need a doctoral degree.

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