Speech-language pathology may sound like a narrow and specialized field, but the skills associated with this type of expertise can actually be applied in various occupational settings. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work with people of all ages to correct various types of disorders, including cognitive, psychological and physical issues. Their skills are often applied as direct therapy to affected individuals, but people in the profession frequently pursue research or consultant positions as well.
Schools and Other Educational Facilities
Elementary, middle and high schools are by far the largest source of employment for SLPs in the United States, which accounts for roughly half of jobs in the field, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's online portal. Schools often employ speech and language experts to help correct issues as they emerge to minimize the impact they have on the child's education.
SLPs may work directly with students and their families to help correct issues that hinder their ability to communicate effectively. Many are also responsible for conducting proactive measures to identify and manage speech and language issues in the student body through screening and evaluations. They often visit different rooms on a regular basis to observe behavior and performance of students as they participate in the class.
Some people pursuing a career in speech-language pathology specialize in a specific age group to become intimately familiar with issues and treatment for certain stages of development. All SLPs working for schools should be prepared to complete and submit paperwork to the appropriate authorities on a regular basis as part of their responsibilities.
The field of speech-language pathology encompasses all types of verbal communication as well as physical disorders related to speech, including swallowing. Children and adults can be affected by physical and cognitive issues that prevent them from swallowing normally, which can hinder their ability to eat or breathe. SLPs employed in a healthcare setting work with victims of cancer, strokes and dementia to improve their quality of life. Recent reports suggest a rising demand for speech-language pathology professionals who are fluent in both Spanish and English.
Research and Administrative Organizations
While many SLPs work directly with people suffering from communications or swallowing disorders, there are also plenty of positions with scientific organizations and public departments. Some of these roles involve the examination and refinement of policy, as well as documenting and organization statistical data. State and federal government agencies also employ language pathologists to work with veterans as well as active members of military and civil services.
There are many different professional environments where SLPs can apply their skills on behalf of their employer's clients. These professionals may work as part of a sound production team or as advisors to second-language speakers who are still mastering English. Some take on a training or coaching role to help employees at a company find better ways to interact with clients who have disorders that impact their ability to communicate.
Exploring a SLP Career
With the numerous and diverse applications of speech-language pathology, it should come as no surprise that practitioners find themselves in many different job settings throughout their career. Individuals pursuing this occupation may determine a specialization during their education or explore the options open to them as they gain practical experience through employment.