Speech Pathologist

What do they do?

What is speech pathology? What is a speech pathologist? First things first!

Speech pathologists are called many names including:

  • speech pathologist
  • speech-language pathologist
  • speech therapist
  • language therapist
  • voice therapist
  • feeding and swallowing therapist
  • miracle worker - haha!
Speech Pathologist

They call speech-language pathologists many names since they work with individuals with different communication/feeding/swallowing needs.

Education and Credentials

In the United States, a speech therapist must have a Master's from an accredited institution in Communicative Disorders or Speech and Hearing Science. 

After graduation, the speech therapist must complete a clinical fellowship year (CFY) to get a state license and a certification of clinical competency (CCC) from the American Speech Hearing Language Association (ASHA.) This fellowship year takes about 9 months and a license speech-language pathologist will supervise the clinical fellow. 

To renew a licence and ASHA membership, a speech pathologist must complete a certain number of continuing education courses per year.

When finding a speech therapist for your child, make sure their title is followed by the following acronym "CCC-SLP."

What does a speech pathologist do?

A speech pathologist helps others improve their communication and swallowing abilities.

Communication skills are the ability to speak, understand, listen, pronounce words, express ideas, write, use voice appropriately, read, grammar, narrative structure, social language skills….and the list goes on....

First, a speech pathologist completes an initial assessment. The assessment may include patient/parent interview, testing (standardized or non-standardized), and/or observations. The assessment last for 1-3 hours.

After the initial assessment, the speech pathologist will write a report about the client's strengths and areas of need. If needed, the speech pathologist creates individualized goals. Goals are based on the results of the assessment as well as the needs and desires of the patient. 

At the assessment, therapy can begin! Therapy will Depend on the client's unique needs. For more information on therapy, click here: What Is Speech Therapy?

Who goes to see a speech pathologist?

People may seek a speech pathologist if they have one or more of the following disorders:

  • Speech disorder
  • Language learning disorder
  • Hearing impairment
  • Speech language Impairment
  • Autism
  • Developmental delay
  • Voice disorder
  • Apraxia
  • Aphasia
  • Stuttering
  • Brain injury
  • Dysphagia
  • Neurological disorders (.e., Parkinson's, ALS)
  • Head and neck or brain cancer

Or, people may have no known disorders, but difficulties with:

  • Speaking
  • Articulation
  • Following directions
  • Reading 
  • Writing
  • Formulating ideas
  • Finding the right words
  • Grammar: oral or written
  • Answering questions
  • Clear voice
  • Swallowing


Place of Work

Speech pathologists work in different settings including:

  • Schools
  • Pre-schools
  • Daycare
  • Private Practice
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Nursing Homes
  • Rehabilitation Facilities
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