Career Profile: Speech and Language Pathologist
Being able to speak seems like a natural and normal thing to do. However, many young children or even adults lisp or stutter, and people who have had strokes or accidents often lose their ability to speak. Speech and language pathologists help people with various kinds of problems to speak more clearly so that they can communicate with the people around them.
Do you enjoy the sciences or do you prefer words and language? As a speech and language pathologist, you could work with both. Speaking is about knowing words and being able to put sentences together, but it is also about using the right part of the mouth and having the physical ability to get the words out. Speech and language pathologists can help with both.
Knowing how sounds are formed is an important part of helping people with speech problems. For example, someone with a lisp needs to know that “s” is made at the ridge inside the mouth, and “th” is made between the teeth. Proper breathing methods and pronunciation techniques for other problems are part of what speech and language pathologists need to know.
In Canada, speech and language pathologists need a university education, normally at least a Master’s degree with courses in English and the sciences. Studies in areas like social work and psychology can also be useful. National certification from Speech-Language and Audiology Canada is also necessary for people working in the field. At first, speech and language pathologists might earn about $40,000 per year, but people with experience can get salaries of over $80,000.
Besides the technical knowledge, people in this field need to be able to work well with people. Their patients might be small children, accident victims, or elderly people who have had strokes or other health problems. They can work in schools, hospitals, or research facilities. Pathologists need to consult with other people such as parents or teachers, and they need to be able to explain what they are doing so that the people know what to expect. Sometimes, they might teach classes or give presentations about their work.
Being able to plan and look ahead is very important for this work. Speech and language pathologists have to get to know each patient’s needs, diagnose the problem, and find a solution. Sometimes, a patient’s needs might be beyond a speech and language pathologist’s skills, and knowing when to get help is a very important part of the work.
Speech and language pathologists spend a lot of time working with people, but they also need to work independently as they research the best techniques for helping patients. Do these qualities describe you? If so, you might want to consider becoming a speech and language pathologist.
Alberta Learning Information Service. “Speech-Language Pathologist.” http://occinfo.alis.alberta.ca/occinfopreview/info/browse-occupations/occupation-profile.html?id=71002785
Living in Canada. “Audiologist and Speech Language Pathologist Salary Canada.” http://www.livingin-canada.com/salaries-for-audiologists-and-speech-language-pathologists.html.
McGill School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “Professional Training in Speech-Language Pathology (M.Sc.A.).” http://www.mcgill.ca/scsd/programs/slp/.
Payscale.com. “Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) Salary (Canada).” http://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Speech-Language_Pathologist_(SLP)/Salary.