What Is A Speech Pathologist?

What is speech pathology? What is a speech pathologist? First things first!

Speech pathologists are called many names including:

  • speech pathologist
  • speech language pathologist
  • speech therapist
  • language therapist
  • voice therapist
  • feeding and swallowing therapist
  • miracle worker - haha!

So many names exist because speech pathologists work with individuals with many different communication needs. More on this later.

Education and Credentials

In the United States, a speech therapist must have a Masters from an accredited institution in Communicative Disorders or Speech and Hearing Science. 

After graduation, the speech therapist must complete a clinical fellowship year (CFY) to obtain a state license and to receive a certification of clinical competency (CCC) from The American Speech Hearing Language Association (ASHA.) A fellowship lasts about 9 months. The clinical fellow will be supervised by a license speech language pathologist. 

In order to continually renew a licence and ASHA membership, a speech pathologist must complete a certain number of continuing education courses per year.

When researching a speech therapist for your child, make sure their title is followed by the following acronym "ccc-slp."

What does a speech pathologist do?

A speech pathologist helps others improve their communication and swallowing abilities. But what are communication skills?

Communication skills are the ability to speak, understand, listen, pronounce words, express ideas, write, use voice appropriately, read, grammar, narrative structure, social language skills….and the list goes on....

First, a speech pathologist completes an initial assessment of a client based on a case history and patient interview. Standardized (tests) and non-standardized  (interviews, observations) measures are completed. This assessment may take 30 minutes to about 3 hours.

After the initial assessment, a report is written about the client's strengths and areas of need and individualized goals are created. Goals are based on the results of the assessment as well as the needs and desires of the patient. 

Finally, therapy can begin! Again, therapy will GREATLY depend on the client's unique needs. For more information on therapy, click here:

What Is Speech Therapy?

Who goes to see a speech pathologist?

A person may seek out a speech pathologist if they have one of the following disorders:

  • Speech disorder
  • Language learning disorder
  • Hearing impairment
  • Speech language Impairment
  • Autism
  • Developmental delay
  • Voice disorder
  • Apraxia
  • Aphasia
  • Stuttering
  • Brain injury
  • Dysphagia
  • Neurological disorders (.e., Parkinson's, ALS)
  • Head and neck or brain cancer

Or, a person may have no known disorder, but difficulties with:

  • Speaking
  • Articulation
  • Following directions
  • Reading 
  • Writing
  • Formulating ideas
  • Finding the right words
  • Grammar: oral or written
  • Answering questions
  • Clear voice
  • Swallowing


Place of Work

Speech pathologist work in many different settings including:

  • Schools
  • Pre-schools
  • Daycare
  • Private Practice
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Nursing Homes
  • Rehabilitation Facilities

Want a job?

Now we can answer the question, what is a speech pathologist? If you want more information the various work settings, check out what is a speech pathologist and where do they work?

Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

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