Speech Therapist: Schooling Requirements for a Speech Therapist

Published Sep 10, 2009

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Speech Therapists, also known as speech language pathologists, work with patients who have difficulties with oral communication to improve their interpersonal communication skills. They are generally required to hold a master's degree in speech language pathology and may also need state certification to find a job. This article describes the educational requirements to be a Speech Therapist.

Speech Therapist Career Summary

Speech Therapists help patients resolve issues related to their ability to pronounce sounds, speak fluently and control their tone of voice or accent. They also assist patients with compensating for cognitive disabilities, such as memory impairments or attention deficits, to improve their ability to communicate. Speech Therapists often work in schools or clinics or hospitals and usually meet with patients individually, but may assist groups in some situations.

Schooling Requirements for a Speech Therapist

Speech Therapists are required to hold a master's degree in the subject before they can find a job. A speech language pathology master's degree program takes full-time students two years to finish, in addition to the four years needed to complete the prerequisite bachelor's degree program. Students earning their master's degree in speech language pathology learn about the anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing, the neurological aspect of speaking and language and language acquisition. Some schools offer doctorate programs in speech language pathology, but these usually prepare graduates for careers beyond the level of Speech Therapist, such as researchers or professors.

Speech Therapists need to have a firm understanding of many diagnostic and therapeutic concepts related to speech and language pathology. The topics listed below are covered in master's degree programs for speech language pathology:

  • Communication Disorders: Courses on communication disorders cover the diagnosis and treatment of several issues affecting language and communication, including disorders relating to speech articulation, fluency and motor control.
  • Clinical Principals of Speech Language Pathology: People studying to become Speech Therapists learn the ideas governing the treatment and diagnosis of communication and speech disorders.
  • Treating Communication Disorders in Schools: Since many Speech Therapists work in educational settings, they need to understand how to design speech pathology treatment plans for school-age children.

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