Speech therapists are trained professionals responsible for preventing, analyzing, and treating language, speech, communication, or swallowing disorders. SLPs or speech-language pathologists have multiple work settings having various roles, responsibilities and serve diverse client populations. As it is a rewarding job, you may wonder how to become a speech therapist. Well, the answer is clear, and to become one, you need to complete the academic and clinical courses, get a degree as well as license to practice. Here are the details provided for becoming a speech therapist.
Steps to Follow For Becoming a Speech Therapist
You need to know whether you have a keen interest in entering this domain or not. Then only can you question how to become a speech therapist? SLPs need to perform numerous important functions like strong communication skills along with great motor skills, professional behavior, social abilities, cognitive and intellectual skills, etc. You should have the eagerness to assist the patients with communication issues.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree:
Ideally, you should start the journey by getting a degree in communication sciences or any other related field. However, if you already possess a bachelor’s degree in any other field, then you do not need any specific degree for moving to a master’s degree in the relevant field. For becoming an SLP, you just require to complete some prerequisite courses.
You can begin by researching about the master’s program which may interest you and then compare their perquisites to your already taken courses. Sometimes, you may have to go back to continue classes, but you do not have to go back for an entire new degree. Several universities provide a prerequisite courses sequence that can take over one or two periods. Moreover, you also have to observe certain clinical hours with an SLP.
Go for a Master’s Degree:
In this step, you can gain knowledge about methods and principles of preventing, assessing, and intervention for people having swallowing and communication disorder. These are the fundamental skills to become a speech therapist. You will finish the academic coursework along with clinical hours of work with clients. Ensure to search for a program accredited by CAA or Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology.
The CAA programs will teach you how to become a Speech therapist and can prepare you with the educational requirements and needed skills in order to succeed. During the master’s program, you get introduced to concepts like voice articulation, phonology, neurological substrates, and literacy. In addition, you will have the chance to specialize in an area like early interventions or neurogenic disorders. Supervised clinical practicums are also important for continuing education as it allows you to diagnose and train patients from different linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Complete your clinical fellowship:
After you graduate with the master’s degree, the next thing you have to do is to get a clinical fellowship. In this one-year position, you will turn from being a student to an independent clinician. During this period, a certified SLP will monitor you so that you can develop and refine all your skills and knowledge.
Clear the Praxis Exam:
This is the fifth step in how to become a speech therapist, and here, you have to crack the Praxis exam for becoming a certified speech-language pathologist. It is a requirement to obtain the ASHA certificate of the CCC-SLP. While selecting a master’s program, one should also check the number of students who clear the exam successfully in that field every year.
Get a CCC-SLP:
Once you successfully complete the master’s degree, pass the Praxis exam, and finish your clinical fellowship, you can then apply for CCC-SLP. This certification is necessary for working in the field. You will also have to apply for state licensure too.
Keep license and certification updated:
After you acquire all your certifications, you will get ready to serve as a speech pathologist. However, you also have to keep all licenses and certifications updated through CEUs or continuing education units so that you can pursue the career for a longer time period.
A speech pathologist is an exciting job and a profession full of opportunities. You can help patients and change their life for the better. By following all these steps, you can start your journey of becoming a speech pathologist.