Due to a projected 11% rise in the employment of speech-language pathologists or therapists by 2016, Speech-Language Pathology, as how it is commonly called in the US context, continues to be one of the many careers worth investing oneself in. This is substantiated by the fact that there has been a steady growth in the demand for contract services in hospitals, schools and nursing care facilities. A speech therapy job entails an array of services that typically include:
- Diagnose disorders of human speech, language and swallowing abilities through the use of quantitative and qualitative assessment methods.
- Help in the research and development of service delivery models to treat speech, swallowing and other aero-digestive issues focused on its early intervention.
- Provide counseling and education to individuals or families regarding communication and swallowing disorders.
- Address behavioral and environmental factors that affect the condition of the patient.
Although the work itself may not be very physically attuned, it can be very time consuming to attend to every possible element that may affect the condition of the patient. Some speech therapists work in hospitals wards and outpatient departments in conjunction with physicians or social workers, health centers or hospice care, research facilities, regular and special schools, client's homes, courtrooms and prisons.
A speech therapist works with a variety of people depending on the chosen workplace. One can work with infant care treating feeding and swallowing difficulties. A speech-language therapist can also attend to children with learning difficulty or specific language and hearing impairments, autism or social interaction problems, dyslexia (reading and spelling disorders) or other voice problems. In adult conditions, a speech therapist can work with eating and swallowing difficulties after an adult suffers from stroke, trauma, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, dementia, laryngectomy, dysfluency, and Cerebral Palsy.
Before one can be a certified Speech-Language Pathologist SLP in the US, a master's degree in speech therapy, a clinical fellowship (1 year employment in speech-language therapy work duly supervised by a certified SLP) and passing the Praxis Series Examinations are required. Only then can you earn the title CCC-SLP or Certificate of Clinical Competence - Speech-Language Pathologist.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the increase in the job opportunities for speech-language therapists would mainly affect those who work in healthcare facilities, schools and direct client services. This is in relation to the medical advancements improving treatment of trauma victims and premature infants, as well as the foreseen increase in retirements over the next few years. Since the bulge of available careers fall in healthcare and schools, a speech therapist could eye these opportunities and look out for available postings either in the classifieds or online.
As to earnings, the U.S. Department of Labor says that in 1994, speech therapists earned $52,410 annually. The highest 10% earned more than $82,420 and the lowest 10% earned less than 34,720.
As a speech therapist, upholding the right of every individual to free expression without any difficulty is of top priority.