Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master's degree. They must be licensed in most states; requirements vary by state.
Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master's degree. Although master's programs do not require a particular undergraduate degree for admission, certain courses must be taken before entering a program. Required courses vary by institution.
Graduate programs often include courses in speech and language development, age-specific speech disorders, alternative communication methods, and swallowing disorders. These programs also include supervised clinical experience.
The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA), part of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, accredits education programs in speech-language pathology. Graduation from an accredited program is required for certification and, often, for state licensure.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Almost all states require speech-language pathologists to be licensed. A license requires at least a master's degree and supervised clinical experience. Many states require graduation from an accredited master's program to get a license. For specific requirements, contact your state's medical or health licensure board.
Speech-language pathologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Certification satisfies some or all of the requirements for state licensure and may be required by some employers.
Speech-language pathologists who work in schools may need a specific teaching certification. For specific requirements, contact your state's department of education or the private institution in which you are interested.
Analytical skills. Speech-language pathologists must select the most appropriate diagnostic tools and analyze the results to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Communication skills. Speech-language pathologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments in a way that patients and their families can understand.
Compassion. Speech-language pathologists work with people who are often frustrated by their difficulties. Speech-language pathologists must be able to support emotionally demanding patients and their families.
Critical-thinking skills. Speech-language pathologists must be able to adjust their treatment plans as needed, finding alternative ways to help their patients.
Detail oriented. Speech-language pathologists must take detailed notes on patient progress and treatment.
Listening skills. Speech-language pathologists must listen to a patient's symptoms and concerns to decide on the appropriate course of treatment.