How to Become a Speech Therapist in 5 Steps

Speech therapists diagnose and offer treatment to individuals who have various language, speaking and swallowing disorders. For instance, you might work with people who have problems forming clear speech or those who stutter. Read on for a step-by-step overview of becoming a speech therapist, including details on undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certification. Schools offering Health Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Step 1: Research Speech Therapist Career Duties and Required Education

Speech therapists work with all ages, in locales ranging from schools and hospitals to private practices and clinics. After diagnosing a patient's disorder, a speech therapist develops an individualized program of speech exercises for that patient, and then monitors and evaluates his or her progress. They offer techniques for improving a patient's voice pitch and language fluency.

Speech therapists also counsel patients and their families. They often work together with other professionals including social workers, physicians, teachers and psychologists. The majority of states require that speech therapists possess at least a master's degree in from an accredited speech-language pathology graduate program.

Step 2: Begin Preparing at the High School-Level

Excelling in high school can make you a stronger candidate for admission to a bachelor's degree program in communications sciences and disorders. Maintain a high grade-point average and study subjects such as physics, mathematics and biology. Outside of school, seek opportunities to volunteer with people who have speech, language or voice disorders.

Step 3: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders

The path followed by most aspiring speech therapists begins with a bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders from a 4-year institution. As a student in one of these programs, you will learn about language development and function and fulfill your initial clinical experience requirements. Your coursework might include subjects such as foreign languages, science and technology, audiology and phonetics.

Step 4: Pursue a Graduate Degree in Speech-Language Pathology

If you plan to seek the national Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology, choose a graduate program that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. These programs teach you to evaluate and treat speech, language and voice disorders while you take part in additional clinical training. Your curriculum might offer courses such as speech and hearing science, neuroscience, fluency disorders and hearing disorders. You may also complete a thesis.

Step 5: Become a Certified Speech Therapist

After earning a Master of Arts or Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, candidates for state-level certification also must complete hundreds of hours of supervised clinical experience and pass a national examination administered by the Educational Testing Service. If you plan to work as a speech therapist in a public school, you also may need to earn your state teaching certification. Speech therapists must often continue their education to retain their certifications.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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