Category: Speech Language Pathology

Career Pathways of Speech-Language Pathology Professionals

Do you want to become a speech-language pathologist but are unsure what your career trajectory looks like? Apart from the high demand for jobs, what makes this career so fulfilling is the ability to change people’s lives. As a speech therapist, you can empower patients by helping them communicate more effectively, thus boosting their self-confidence. 

If this idea appeals to you, but you still have reservations, the best way to decide is to learn more about careers for speech-language pathologists. This way, you can determine whether it’s the right path for you. In this guide, you’ll learn more about speech-language pathologist jobs to gain insight into the profession. 

speech pathologist

What Is Speech-Language Pathology

Speech-language pathology (SLP) is the scientific study of diagnosing, assessing, and treating speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders. Professionals who specialize in this field are called speech-language pathologists or speech therapists. According to the BLS, the 2021 median speech-language pathologist salary was $79,060 annually. 

If you’re wondering about how to become a speech-language pathologist, here’s the general overview:

  1. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in a related field 
  2. Obtain a master’s degree from one of the accredited speech-language pathologist graduate programs
  3. Complete a clinical fellowship
  4. Pass the Praxis Examination
  5. Apply for ASHA certification and state licensure 

Where Do Speech-Language Pathologists Work?

One of the advantages of becoming a speech-language pathologist is the ability to work in various settings. This gives you flexibility and allows you to explore different areas throughout your career. Here are just some of the places you can work in to provide you with a better idea:

Educational Facilities 

Unlike other healthcare professionals that usually only concentrate in medical settings, SLPs are highly involved in the educational space. In fact, 56% of SLPs work in an academic environment, with 53% of them in schools and the other 3% in colleges or universities. 

SLPs in this setting work with students, parents, teachers, counselors, and other professionals to help diagnose and treat communication disorders. Their tasks may include the following:

  • Screening and diagnosing speech problems
  • Working with children with disabilities 
  • Writing Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs)
  • Collaborating with teachers to create lesson plans
  • Supervising clinical fellowships and practicum

Hospitals

Next, SLPs may be employed in hospitals, where they provide a range of inpatient and outpatient services. Generally, you get to work with patients of all ages unless you choose a specialized hospital, such as a children’s or military hospital. In such cases, you’ll focus more on treating a specific patient population.

Regardless, here are some things you may do as an SLP in a hospital setting:

  • Diagnosing, evaluating, and treating speech, language, and swallowing disorders
  • Creating and performing treatment plans
  • Helping traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke survivors through recovery
  • Educating patients and families on communication disorders and treatments 

Residential and Nonresidential Health Care Facilities 

Besides hospitals, residential and nonresidential healthcare facilities are also common work areas for SLPs. 

Residential facilities include nursing homes and assisted living communities, where SLPs help the elderly recover from illnesses or treat speech difficulties. On the other hand, nonresidential healthcare facilities refer to outpatient settings like doctor’s offices and speech clinics. 

Generally, SLPs who work in these facilities perform similar services as those who work in hospitals. If ever, there may just be some nuances based on the patient’s specific needs. For example, you usually need to provide additional care and support in residential facilities.

Private Practice 

Finally, SLPs can also work in private practice. This option grants you the most freedom since it gives you control over your schedule, target patients, and types of cases handled. It’s good to consider if you’re passionate about a specific area in SLP or know exactly what you want to do in the field. 

In this setting, the job scope ultimately depends on you and how you set up your private practice. However, one key difference is you’ll also need to handle marketing and administrative tasks like billing and insurance—much like running a regular business.

speech pathology professional

Speech Pathologist Job Specialization

Given the broad scope of speech-language pathology, you can specialize in a particular field for more focus. While this isn’t required to practice SLP, it helps you pursue a more specific career path. Examples of specializations include: 

  • Speech Disorders

SLPs with this specialization help patients with difficulty producing sounds and speaking fluently. They treat various speech disorders like stuttering, apraxia, and articulation disorders. 

  • Language Disorders

SLPs specializing in language disorders treat patients who struggle to understand language or communicate clearly with others. This usually results from aphasia, which affects speech comprehension and the ability to write due to damage to the brain. 

  • Social Communication

SLPs here assist patients with difficulty communicating socially, whether verbally or non-verbally. They help patients learn how to take turns in speaking, follow social cues, and understand proper speech behavior in different settings. 

  • Cognitive-Communication Disorders

SLPs with this specialization work with patients with disorders that affect their memory, problem-solving, and reasoning. Often, these patients have experienced a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

  • Speech Pathology Assistant

One of the alternate careers for speech-language pathologists is to become a speech pathology assistant, which doesn’t require enrolling in a speech-language pathologist masters program. While you can’t practice independently as an assistant, you can work with certified SLPs.

a child learning with a speech pathologist

Enroll in Speech-Language Pathology Programs Abroad to Discern Your Career 

SLP is one of the best careers you can pursue, given its positive outlook and rewarding nature. If you’re still discerning your choice, the best way to decide is to expose yourself to a real-world setting through speech-language pathologist programs. Here at Therapy Abroad, we offer SLP programs abroad to immerse you into the field and help you gain hands-on experience in a different country. For more information, call us today at 949-844-6366.

Filed under: Blog, Speech Language Pathology

How To Get SLP Observation Hours ?

how to get slp observation hours
slp student working on her observation hours Speech-language pathology (SLP) is a gratifying career that empowers patients to communicate effectively. It’s also a diverse field, so you can meet and work with so many different patients throughout your career. But before you can start practicing speech therapy, you’ll need to complete some education and certification requirements. One of these is your observation hours, a prerequisite to getting your ASHA certification. So to help you on your journey toward becoming an SLP, here’s a guide on how to get SLP observation hours to start your practice.

What are SLP Observation Hours

SLP observation hours refer to one component of the required practicum mandated by ASHA. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), you must finish at least 400 hours of supervised clinical experience to get your Certificate of Clinical Competence in SLP (CCC-SLP).  The 400-hour requirement is broken down into 25 hours of guided observation and 375 hours of direct patient contact. Generally, you should complete 25 hours while in undergraduate school since graduate programs require this before starting your degree program or clinical work. Aside from this, it’s important to note that observation and volunteer hours are not the same. Observation involves shadowing a professional SLP to see how they work and provide therapy services to patients. On the other hand, volunteering means offering hands-on support to clinics or other healthcare settings, usually involving administrative or clerical work.   As part of ASHA’s rule, your observation activities should fall within the scope of practice in speech-language pathology. All your activities can be done on-site or online and should be conducted under the direction of an ASHA-certified SLP. And finally, you should have your SLP supervisor document and sign your hours.

two slp students abroad talking

How to get SLP Observation hours?

So to help you finish your certification requirements, here are some ways how to get SLP observation hours. Remember—the earlier you complete them, the better! 

Check With Your Program Coordinator

The most straightforward way to get SLP observation hours is to ask your school’s program coordinator for possible opportunities. In most cases, schools allow you to have clinical observations within the campus if they have a speech clinic. If not, your coordinator may be able to connect you to some community sites where you can do your observation.  

Contact a Certified SLP

If you want to explore other outside opportunities, you can also take the initiative to look for certified SLPs in other schools, private clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. Before anything else, please contact the SLP for permission and ask them if you can observe for a certain amount of time. Remember to keep track of your hours since you’ll be responsible for all off-site observations. 

Sign Up at the Master Clinician Network

Another option is to sign up at the Master Clinician Network. This gives you access to a wide database of clinical videos with evaluation and treatment sessions. Aside from the convenience of having countless videos to choose from, you also have the chance to learn from different experts and observe many therapy procedures. Overall, you get the experience of shadowing knowledgeable SLPs from the comforts of your home. Whatever you decide to watch in Master Clinician, these can count towards your observation hours, making it easy to fulfill the required number of hours. But the main caveat is you’ll need to pay an annual membership fee of $45 for students. 

Attend Study Abroad Programs

Without a doubt, one of the best ways—if not the best—to complete 25 hours of SLP observation is through a study abroad program.  These programs allow you to observe and work alongside professionals to gain hands-on experience in the field and discover new healthcare practices. You’ll also get the chance to interact with people from different cultures. Through these experiences, you improve your cross-cultural competence and broaden your perspective on global issues.  If you’re interested in trying such opportunities, Therapy Abroad offers a range of SLP programs to help you learn more about the field. These include the SLP & AAC Program in Thailand and the Communication Sciences & Disorder Program in Belize and Dominican Republic. They all expose you to a unique multicultural environment and even grant you professional observation hours.

slp students learning from each other

The Benefits of Speech and Language Pathology Observation Hours

Observation is a requirement to receive your CCC-SLP certification. But more than that, it’s one of the best learning experiences to help in your education journey. Specifically, here are the top benefits of your SLP observation hours:
  • Preparation for Graduate Program. Clinical observations allow you to understand your course better and potentially find interests. These can ultimately prepare you for graduate school. They also aid in the discernment process and help you decide if SLP is the right career choice.
  • Learn Therapy Procedures. While observing professional SLPs, you learn more about therapy procedures. In other words, you get to see how the concepts you’ve learned in class can be applied in a real clinical setting.

Do You Want to Complete Your SLP Observation Hours Abroad?

SLP observation hours are important to get your ASHA certification. While there’s no hard rule on how you should complete them, doing your observations abroad undoubtedly comes with many advantages. Cultural awareness and higher chances of acceptance into graduate programs are just some of them.  So if you’re not sure how to get SLP observation hours, don’t hesitate to go out of your comfort zone and apply for study abroad programs. Therapy Abroad has a range of SLP programs to help you complete your observation hours while being immersed in a real clinical setting. To learn more about our programs, feel free to contact us at 949-423-6165 .
Filed under: Blog, Speech Language Pathology

5 Benefits of Speech Therapy Volunteer Abroad

student having therapy with a child
speech therapy abroad benefits Speech therapy, also known as speech-language pathology (SLP), ranks third among the best healthcare jobs and tenth in the 100 Best Jobs list from the US News. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that SLP has great employment prospects and offers flexible work options. Not to mention—it’s highly rewarding knowing that you can make a difference in people’s lives. That said, SLP is also a competitive field. So if you’re interested in pursuing this profession, consider looking for opportunities to be a speech therapy volunteer abroad. Doing this can help you through your learning journey, and better prepare you for your practice. Read on to learn more about how volunteering abroad can help you with your career as an SLP.

Is Speech Therapy right for me?

While speech therapy is undoubtedly a thriving career with several functional and emotional benefits, it’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone. To help you decide if it’s right for you, try asking yourself these questions:
  • Are you passionate about helping people?
SLPs work closely with patients to empower them to become better communicators. As such, it’s important to have that passion and willingness to help people with communication disorders and advocate for them.
  • How do you envision your career timeline?
It takes a considerable amount of time to become a licensed SLP. First, you’ll need to get a relevant bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in SLP. Then, you have to complete your post-graduate clinical fellowship and pass the praxis exam to obtain your state licensure and ASHA certification. Overall, it takes around six to eight years to finish all these, so consider whether this fits your career timeline.
  • Do you want flexibility in your career?
Contrary to popular assumptions, SLP is a highly flexible career. You can work in a wide range of settings, ranging from schools to hospitals to social service agencies. You’re also not restricted to a particular patient population, so you can work with patients of all ages and from all walks of life.

5 benefits of Speech Therapy volunteering abroad

overseas student communicating with each other Should you decide to pursue speech therapy, one of the best ways to prepare for your career will be to take SLP volunteer opportunities abroad. In general, volunteering is a great way to hone your skills and learn more about the field. But doing this abroad is especially valuable as it offers benefits you won’t get in a local setting. Check them out below.

Gain Hands-on Experience

Overseas volunteer opportunities allow you to gain hands-on experience by exposing you to a real-life work setting. You get to work alongside SLP professionals, have one-on-one time with them, and observe how they work. You’ll also have responsibilities of your own. Thus, you can apply what you’ve learned in school and better understand how different procedures work.

Improve Intercultural Communication Skills

One of the best parts about studying or volunteering abroad is it immerses you in a new culture. In turn, you can improve your intercultural communication skills. During the program, you’ll constantly be interacting with locals, thus allowing you to learn the conversational language more easily. Some SLP volunteer programs abroad may include some form of language training. For example, Therapy Abroad’s Communication Sciences & Disorders Program in the Dominican Republic comes with Spanish language immersion, allowing you to learn basic conversational Spanish through vocabulary and linguistic instruction. Foreign language skills can be a huge advantage in grad school applications or the job market since it shows that you can interact with a wider range of patients. According to a 2019 study, speaking a foreign language can increase your wage prospects by around 11%. This number is even higher for certain languages, such as 32% for Spanish and 22% for French.

Build Cultural Humility

Speech therapy programs abroad also help you build cultural humility, a form of self-reflection that respects others’ beliefs and worldviews. Throughout your time as a volunteer abroad, you meet people from all walks of life, which allows you to learn more about different cultures. It also helps with personal growth since you become more aware of your worldview and potential biases you may have. Cultural humility is extremely important in healthcare. It teaches you to embrace diversity and openness and build deep relationships with your patients. With this ability, you can treat all your patients with fairness and give them the best possible care in all contexts.

Practice in a Multicultural Environment

Through overseas volunteer opportunities for SLP, you get to practice your skills in a multicultural environment. You can also work with individuals from different cultures. As a result, you can better adapt to unfamiliar or changing environments and effectively collaborate with healthcare workers or patients.

Increase Awareness of Global Social Issues

Finally, taking SLP volunteer programs abroad can help you improve your global awareness. While studying in a new country, you don’t just see how SLP works in action but also develop a better understanding of global and social issues. Specifically, you’ll learn more about local healthcare issues and international approaches that can make you more competent in your practice.

How are Therapy Abroad’s SLP programs different from others?

speech therapy volunteer abroad As highlighted above, volunteering abroad is a great way to sharpen your skills and increase your cultural and global awareness. If you’re interested in SLP volunteer opportunities abroad, Therapy Abroad offers a range of programs you can join. These include the SLP & AAC Program in Thailand, and Communication Sciences & Disorders Program in Belize or the Dominican Republic. These programs only come with limited slots, so make sure you apply now. For more information on what you can expect to do and learn, feel free to contact Therapy Abroad today at (949) 423 6165.
Filed under: Blog, Speech Language Pathology

The Best Way to Get Into Speech Language Pathology Graduate School

a speech language pathologist with a patient

According to the Speech Pathology Graduate Programs website, speech-language pathology is a field of study within the broader category of communication sciences and disorders, also known as CSD.

Speech-language pathologists work to diagnose and treat a wide variety of patients, from children to elderly adults, who have speech, communication, or swallowing disorders. 

In order to become a licensed speech-language pathologist, you must first attend SLP grad school. During your time in graduate school, you will learn how to assess, diagnose, and treat a variety of speech and swallowing disorders. You will have courses in both an academic and clinical setting. 

a speech language pathologist with a patient

Speech Pathology Grad School Requirements

The requirements for grad school will generally include a bachelor’s degree and an acceptable grade point average. In many cases, you will also need a certain score on a graduate entrance exam to increase your chances of getting accepted. You may also need a personal statement and letters of recommendation.

Here’s a list of requirements for getting into speech-language pathology grad programs:

A bachelor’s degree

There are no shortcuts here. The name itself suggests that it is a graduate school; therefore, a college degree is a prerequisite. And just like law school, you don’t have to graduate from a specific college course just to get in. In fact, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, you don’t have to acquire a specific major, although a degree in line with communication sciences is ideal.

A certain grade point average

The average grades that people need to get are a determining factor of the chances they have in getting into the program. However, the GPA requirement varies for different programs. What can be required from one will greatly differ from the other because of what it takes to get there and move forward from there. It must be noted though that even though the GPA varies, a competitive GPA of 3.0 is a standard. Your GPA and GRE scores can help with your application.

A GRE General Test Score

It is not mandatory as only some schools and programs offer this test. However, having this as an extra credential doesn’t hurt. If anything, it increases your chances of getting in because people would have an impression that you go the extra mile and you have the capability to excel in the field. The better your score, the better your chances are for being accepted into a graduate program.

Several letters of recommendation

A glowing review from a professional who knows you and has worked with you in the past can really give you an advantage when applying to a graduate program. When you have letters of recommendation to back you up and further strengthen your credentials, it is certainly a great help. You can ask for recommendations from school advisers and even SLPs you may know. 

A personal essay

Graduate school admissions officers want to know more about you than just your grades and test scores. Why do you want to pursue a career in speech-language pathology? What motivates you? Why would you be a great fit for their program? These are a few of the questions you may be asked to answer as part of the admissions process. Most programs and schools provide you with questions and prompts to get you started. But for others, you may have to choose your own topic to explore. 

speech language pathologist helping a little girl

How to Get into SLP Grad School

It may seem intimidating applying to grad school, but becoming a speech-language pathologist is attainable for those who are willing to put in the work. To help guide your way through this career path, here are the general steps you’ll need to take. 

Finish a college degree first

While a certain course of study isn’t required, you must have a bachelor’s degree in order to apply to grad school.

Consider taking a GRE General Test

Even though it was previously mentioned that it is not necessary, a GRE score can add to your credentials most especially when you finished a bachelor’s degree that is not related to this field. Besides, you can take this test multiple times, up to five (5) times within a year.

Observe how different speech-language pathologists do their work

Before you enter a SLP graduate program, you will want to observe several SLPs to make sure you enjoy the work. SLPs can work in a variety of settings, including preschools, colleges, private practices, corporate services, armed forces, and even the United States’ Public Health Service.

Build a network that involves speech-language pathologists

It may seem redundant, but it is important to highlight that people in your network can really help you succeed in your career. Eventually, these will be the same people who will vouch for you and refer you to institutions you can work in.

Also, building rapport and connections with actual people in this field can earn you a lifetime’s worth of mentors that can help you be better, not just as a professional but also as a person.

Do some volunteer work

Volunteering can help you gain experience in the field, and it’s also a great thing to add to your resume when applying to graduate school. It doesn’t need to be full-time work; part-time volunteering is enough. Furthermore, it allows you to discern whether you want to pursue a career in speech-language pathology at the end of the day.

 

What is the Best Way to Get Into SLP Grad School?

There aren’t really any shortcuts when it comes to getting into SLP grad school. If you earn a bachelor’s degree and maintain a good GPA, get an acceptable score on the necessary graduate entrance exam, and gain some volunteer experience in the field, you have a great chance of getting into SLP grad school. 

 

a speech language pathologist treating a little boy holding a teddy bear

FAQs About SLP Grad School

Is it hard to get into grad school for SLP?

While it’s definitely not easy, getting into SLP grad school is attainable for many people. For example, you don’t necessarily have to be a graduate of communication disorder studies to get into a good program. 

What GPA do you need to get into grad school for speech pathology?

There are no requirements for a certain GPA. It varies from program to program, but a GPA of 3.0 or higher should be acceptable.

Is a masters in speech pathology worth it?

The answer to this question is different for every individual, but we believe it is. As a speech-language pathologist, you are not just doing work that earns you money. You are also being of service to people and helping them achieve a better quality of life. It is a noble job that allows you to make a difference in the world.

What are the easiest SLP programs to get into?

According to the list from the Word Scholarship Forum, among the easiest programs to get into are New England College, Walden University, California State University Bakersfield, Boston Architectural College, Cameron University, Wilmington University, and Benedictine University.

How do I get into SLP grad school with a low GPA?

You can work on your other qualities and skills. There are resources online that can help you make a higher score on the GRE or write a fantastic personal essay. You can also talk with speech-language pathologists so that they can vouch for you. Other than that, you can also volunteer.

What is the acceptance rate to speech-language pathology grad school?

According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, the acceptance rate to speech pathology grad school is 39% in the recent school years. In fact, the average rate for those who got accepted was just 23.1% over a decade from 2010-2020.

How do you stand out for SLP grad school?

Just as internships are helpful in giving you real-life experience about the field of work you want to pursue, doing volunteer work can consequently do the same. What’s better is that it helps you stand out in SLP grad school because of the first-hand experience that comes together with textbook knowledge.

Woman who wants to getting into SLP graduate school helping a little girl

How To Get SLP Observation Hours Abroad And Make Your Application Stand Out

As mentioned, you can volunteer and shadow already established SLPs. But if you want to go beyond that, you can take a program yourself even when you are an undergraduate!

The Therapy Abroad SLP program in Thailand, for example, is a wonderful way to gain experience in a clinical setting, and it also looks great on your resume or grad school application. 

It is a two-week long program for undergraduate or graduate students ages 18 and above. This Therapy Abroad program helps students gain hands-on experience serving school-age children alongside professionals in the field. It is perfect for students specializing in speech-language pathology and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). 

Nowadays, school admissions committees want to have students who are well-rounded and equipped with some experience in their intended course of study. A Therapy Abroad experience in SLP can help you make a difference in the lives of others and strengthen your application for speech-language pathology graduate programs as well.

If you’d like to learn more, you can check out this program and apply here. You only have to provide basic information and you’re ready to go through the easy admissions process!

Filed under: Speech Language Pathology, News, Blog, Graduate School