Inside Speech Pathologist Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Swallowing Is Part Of Scope...
I think what surprises people most about my career is that Speech Pathologists are also involved with feeding and swallowing. Most people and myself included before I went to school, believe that speech pathologists just work on helping people with articulation." (Speech Language Pathologist; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Speech Language Pathology at California State University East Bay in California; completed Master degree in 2010

"Wide Scope Of Practice...
I was surprised at how wide my field was. In graduate school, although I had a variety of experiences with patients, I didn't realize how varied the settings were that I could work in." (Speech Therapist; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Speech-Language Pathology at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee; completed Master degree in 2005

"Floored By The Paperwork...
How much paperwork is involved. I thought that the job would just be therapy with some report writing. The state requires way more paperwork that I was prepared for. It surprises me how much drama can happen within the educational setting." (Speech Therapist; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Communication Disorders at Central Michigan University in Michigan; completed Master degree in 2006

"Lots Of Research...
As a speech pathologist, its important that I stay abreast in my field and try to help it progressively move forward. I was surprised by how much research is involved in my field. Whether it be with a specific client or if it's a professional doing it own their own accord. I talked to some of my co-workers and they are all involved in some type of research. I also went back to my school and found out that some of my professors were currently doing research as well. One of them is even about to release a book on some of his findings." (Speech Pathology; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Communication Disorders at University Of Central Florida in Florida; completed Master degree in 2010

"Male/Female Ratio...
I was surprised at the ratio of women to men in this field. There is about 8 women for every 1 man. It's surprising due to the need of qualified SLPs in both educational and medical settings." (Speech-Language Pathologist; 2012)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in New Hampshire, male
School: Studied Communication Sciences And Disorders at University Of New Hampshire in New Hampshire; completed Master degree in 2010

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Speech Pathologist: "I love working with kids. It makes me feel younger to work with kids everyday. It is also nice to know that I make an impact on these kids and that what they learn will stay with them for the rest of their lives. The worst parts about my job include doing a lot of paperwork and taking data. There is a lot of paperwork involved in this job and it takes up a lot of time. I spend a lot of my time at home working on things for work. Also, taking data is sometimes difficult to do effectively." (2011)

Speech/Language Pathologist: "Some of the best parts of the job involve working with the students, and helping them to achieve their goals and perform better in school. What can be very difficult is managing the student's behaviors, especially those behaviors that result from not being able to communicate effectively with others. Some of the hardest parts of the job involve working with parents who are upset that their child is not succeeding, or working with parents who are not involved enough in helping their child be successful." (2011)

Speech Pathologist: "The best part of the job is the day-to-day therapy with the children and the collaboration with other specialists such as occupational therapists and augmentative communication specialists. I particularly love the challenges and rewards associated with working with children on the autism spectrum. The most difficult part of the job is keeping up with the paperwork demands. Screening, assessing, and developing annual education plans known as IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) can be very time-consuming and take away from the time that you have to devote to helping your clients." (2010)

Speech Language Pathologist: "One of the best parts of my job is interacting my students. It's very rewarding to help a child make progress, whatever that progress consists of: be it with following directions, making grammatical sentences, or making an "s" that doesn't sound funny. I work with wonderful teachers and am part of a large school system, so I have great benefits. The worst part of my job is that the paperwork frequently changes; as soon as you figure out how the district wants paperwork done, they change it! Also, sometimes my schedule is really busy, and I don't have as much planning time as I would prefer. In the school systems, speech language pathologist often have very high caseloads (i.e., lots of kids to serve)." (2010)

Speech Pathologist: "The best part of my job is seeing children better able to communicate with their peers, teachers and family because of the speech-language services I have provided. I enjoy working as part of a team. I'm constantly interacting and collaborating with other professionals. I suppose the worst part of my job is the increased requirement for written documentation in the way of progress notes and record-keeping for Medicaid reimbursement. However, one of the skills I've developed over time is the ability to organize and manage several different responsibilities. I enjoy having more than one aspect to my job." (2010)

Career Background

Speech Pathologist

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Career Video

Career Tips

"Vary Your Clinical Experiences...
Get as many different clinical experiences as you can while still in graduate school. You may learn about and come to love an area of your field you never would have considered working in." (Speech Therapist; 2013)

"Your Choice Of Internships Can Impact Your Career...
I would make sure that when you are in school you choose good internships in the areas you are interested in working. I made the mistake of not doing an internship in a hospital and that has now limited me in pursuing jobs in hospitals." (Speech Language Pathologist; 2013)

"Experience Will Guide Your Choice Of Specialty...
It is essential that you take as many courses as possible in anatomy and treatment techniques. In addition, it is important to get involved in activities related to the field or to do volunteer work in the field. It is also important to choose internships that will guide you in choosing the population you want to work with, adults or children. You must try to get as many internships and clinical experience possible before you decide where in the field you would like to work. All of these things will also be good for your resume." (Speech Pathologist; 2011)

"Gain Experience Between Degrees...
The master's program for Speech is very intensive and contains a lot of credits and coursework. I found it to be very helpful to have real-life experience in between getting my bachelor's and master's degrees. When taking courses, classes in psychology were very helpful to my coursework in speech. I did not take many education classes, but if you plan to get this degree and work in a school setting, I think that classes in education as part of a bachelor's program would be very helpful." (Speech/Language Pathologist; 2011)

"Get Your Degree In Communication Disorders...
1. It takes much longer to start a career in speech language pathology if you do not get your BA in Communication Disorders first. If you only decide to become an SLP after getting your bachelor's, it may take you up to four years full-time to complete your master's degree. 2. Consider pursuing an internship in a medical setting as it is easier to move from a medical setting to a school down the road than it is to do the opposite. 3. Complete internships in a wide variety of settings so that you are familiar with all that the field has to offer. You'd be surprised how many people end up liking working in a setting that they had initially been dead set against." (Speech Pathologist; 2010)

"See What A Speech Pathologist Does Firsthand...
1.Observe! Go and observe people working in the setting in which you think you want to work. Graduate school is very demanding in terms of time, money, and energy, and you want to be certain that you are going to end up somewhere you want to be. 2. Choose your intern sites carefully; this is where you'll really get what comes closest to "on the job training." 3. Write down your intervention ideas whenever they come to you. There is no owner's manual for therapy. But that's the good news in away. It means there's a lot of space for creativity. However, it also means that sometimes you may not feel so creative, but must come up with a therapy plan anyway. It's helpful to have a list of ideas handy. 4. Always remember that your clients are human beings, not just slots in your therapy schedule. Always treat all of them with respect." (Speech Language Pathologist; 2010)

"You Need Good Grades...
Graduate programs in speech pathology are very competitive and getting in isn't easy. I've had two bachelor's-level speech-language assistants, both very capable, with undergraduate cumulative averages of "B," who did not gain admission to a Boston-area graduate program. However, once you've completed your studies, being a speech pathologist requires you to have good "people" skills, flexibility, and creativity, as well as an extensive knowledge base. Be open to the many possible settings you could work in: pre-schools, schools, rehabilitation hospitals, and nursing homes, to name a few. If you're business-minded, you could even open your own private practice." (Speech Pathologist; 2010)