How Do I Become a Speech-Language Pathologist?


Illustration of a female speech language pathologist holding a card with the letter "E" on it.

Communication is a basic human need. Speech and language help us connect with others and interact with the world around us. When you choose to become a speech-language pathologist, you have the unique opportunity to enhance the quality of life for those who struggle with speech, language and swallowing difficulties by helping them improve their ability to communicate and their quality of life.

Speech-language pathology is a dynamic and rewarding career that affords you a range of employment settings and opportunities to specialize. Pursuing a master’s in speech-language pathology or communication sciences and disorders jumpstarts your journey to becoming a speech-language pathologist. An advanced degree prepares you with hands-on experience and cutting-edge practical knowledge to go and try to improve other people’s lives.

What Exactly Is a Speech-Language Pathologist?

Speech-language pathologists, also referred to as speech therapists, are health professionals who diagnose and treat speech, language, communication, fluency and swallowing problems that occur from birth, injury or other medical condition.

Communication problems occur across all age groups, and as a speech-language pathologist, you have the freedom to focus on a particular group, such as toddlers or adults, or to work with people of all ages.

Speech-language pathologists are highly trained, licensed professionals. To enter this vibrant field, you must:

  • Hold a master’s degree in speech-language pathology or communication sciences and disorders from an accredited program.
  • Complete hands-on clinical experience.
  • Earn a passing grade on the Praxis Speech-Language exam.
  • Receive National American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certification and state licensing.

All states require speech-language pathologists to be licensed, though specific requirements vary from state to state.

Speech-language pathology is a fast-growing career path that offers high job satisfaction and an average annual salary of $79,060 — and is expected to grow at a rate of 21%, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further exemplifying how rewarding this career path is, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked speech-language pathology as No. 3 in Best Jobs in Healthcare and No. 10 in overall Best Jobs.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Speech Pathologist

As a credentialed speech-language pathologist, you can build a flexible work schedule depending on your employment setting and the population you serve. It also provides you with a variety-filled career working with clients to address a range of issues and disorders, including:

  • Dysarthria: difficulty with the muscles used in speech.
  • Aphasia: difficulty speaking or understanding others because of damage to the brain.
  • Dysphagia: swallowing disorders.
  • Stuttering: repetition and pauses that break the flow of speech.

Many speech-language pathologists work in schools with children and adolescents. However, other settings need their skills and compassion. That includes hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, doctors’ offices, community health clinics, colleges and universities and private practices.

Research is critical to the advancement of speech-language pathology, and you may also want to apply your science background and entrepreneurial spirit by conducting research and developing new treatments or equipment that advance your field.

Unlock Your Potential to Change Lives

Selecting a master’s degree that matches your goals, interests, and career aspirations is the first step in becoming a speech-language pathologist. At Elmhurst University, the Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) degree can be your launching pad.

You will study alongside a cohort of peers who are at similar points in their career journeys and who will support you as you advance together through your master’s studies.

Students attend classes full-time and are able to complete the program in less than two years.

Elmhurst’s CSD master’s program provides students with critical clinical experiences in a variety of settings. In the on-campus Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, students work alongside professionals to assess and treat clients. In a state-of-the-art simulation center at Elmhurst Hospital, students practice clinical skills on high-tech mannequins in a realistic hospital setting. Nursing and occupational therapy students learn in the simulation center along with CSD students, creating opportunities for collaborative learning and interdisciplinary problem-solving.

Not only will you be well-prepared for national certification by ASHA and state licensure, 100% of students from Elmhurst’s Communication Sciences and Disorders master’s program to date have earned passing scores on the Praxis exam and received job offers upon graduation.

Prepare for a Rewarding Speech Pathology Career with a CSD Master’s

As a speech-language pathologist, you not only help people communicate effectively, you also give them confidence in themselves, their abilities, and their potential. Elmhurst’s Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders degree provides the first step toward achieving your goal to become a speech-language pathologist, so you can help others achieve their dreams. Request information below to get started.

Fill out my online form.

Illustration by Telegramme
Posted Feb. 14, 2023

Connect with #elmhurstu