Employment as a certified speech-language pathologist or a certified audiologist requires a master's degree which can be obtained from the numerous universities and colleges which offer communication disorders programs, speech-language pathology programs, or audiology programs. In a small number of States, non-certified audiologists and speech-language pathologists can practice with a bachelor's degree. Admission criteria, course requirements and tuition vary from program to program; therefore, interested students are encouraged to contact the university of their choice to obtain specific information. All programs include course work as well as supervised clinical practicums. In speech-language pathology, course work focuses on normal and disordered articulation, language, swallowing, fluency, cognition and voice. In clinical practicums, students will be involved in evaluation and treatment of patients with a disability in these areas. In audiology, course work focuses on the anatomy and function of the ear, fitting, dispensing and selection of amplification, assistive listening/alerting devices and other systems, diagnostic testing, and calibration and use of audiological equipment. In clinical practicums, students will be involved in the evaluation of patients with possible hearing loss, the provision of aural rehabilitation and related counseling services.
To become certified in each of these professions by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), you must have a master's degree, pass the national examination administered by the Educational Testing Services, and successfully complete a clinical fellowship (CF). Most states mandate and control regulations and licensure to practice the professions. All states mandate that persons interested in school-based employment comply with state education requirements, which are identical or very similar to ASHA's standards. You must contact the state credentialing agency to obtain an application to practice.
Speech-language pathologists and audiologists work with infants through adults for a variety of speech, language, voice, swallowing, cognitive, and hearing problems, the result of such conditions as stroke, brain injury, degenerative disease, learning disability, attention deficit disorder, etc. Speech-language pathologists are responsible for evaluation, goal setting, treatment implementation, patient and family education, and re-integration of patients. The goal is to improve patient skills so they may function in their environment to the best of their ability. Audiologists work closely with otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat specialists). The goal is to obtain a clear picture of hearing status and make recommendations for hearing aids or follow-up medical treatment.
Speech-language pathologists and audiologists work in hospitals, private and public clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, contract agencies, private practices, and public/private schools and universities.
Median salaries for certified speech-language pathologists and audiologists with 1-3 years' experience range from $30,400 to $36,000 per year. Nationally, for all levels of experience, salaries average over $40,000. Individuals with dual certification, or employed as department heads or directors, earn a median salary over $62,000.
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