What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?

I didn’t fully realize the full scope of responsibilities of a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) until I began graduate school. Previously, I worked as an elementary classroom teacher and noticed the school SLP coming to pick up students from my class who had difficulty with a few of their speech sounds. I naively assumed that was their only job!

SLPs are required to have a master’s degree and are highly trained in the medical and school setting. They hold a national license and certification called the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) with ASHA (American Speech-Hearing Association) along with a state license in the state they work in.

Some of the settings we are trained to work in are:

– Public Schools

– Rehab Hospitals

– Private Clinics

– Skilled Nursing Facilities

– Private Practice as an Independent Contractor

So what do we work on with our clients? Typically, when we work with adults, it means they have lost speech or language, either by stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other degenerative disease.  With children, usually they haven’t developed speech or language skills due to a variety of factors. We also work with adults and children with oral motor skills and swallowing (dysphagia).

Some disorders we treat include:

-articulation disorders (speech sounds)

-expressive language disorders (how a person uses language)

-receptive language disorders (how a person comprehends language)

-apraxia of speech (motor speech disorder)

-dysphagia (swallowing)

-aphasia (loss of language due to brain injury)

-pragmatic/social skills

-oral motor skills

– accent reduction (adults only)

Above is not a complete list, but some of the most common areas we treat. This is a very simplified explanation of our job, but I hope it provides insight into the profession. It is one of the best careers around!


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