Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) Job Responsibilities

A speech pathologist engages in a variety of tasks to help each client or patient that they work with. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), responsibilities often include:

  • Evaluation: Determining the severity of the speech or communication issue
  • Creation of Treatment Plans: Identifying methods of treatment based on patient evaluation and delivering a plan that meets client needs
  • Counseling and Training: Helping individuals and families navigate life with SLP related disorders
  • Data Collection: Recording initial evaluations and continuing to track progress as a way to validate treatment plans and discern whether those plans need to be adjusted
  • Business Ownership: Many SLPs are their own bosses, and will need to manage their own businesses
  • Supervision: Some SLPs may choose to become supervisors for students who are completing their practicums and clinical fellowship years
  • Researchers: Gaining a better understanding of speech communication disorders or improving the ways they are evaluated and treated
  • Providing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems for those who need non-verbal means of communication

 

Speech Pathology Specializations

Speech Pathologists can choose to work with a broad or narrow scope of speech, language, and communicative disorders. While online master’s in speech pathology programs do not usually offer specific concentrations in an area of speech, programs will usually prepare SLPs to work with the following:

Speech Disorders: Disorders involving one’s ability to speak, how speech sounds, and how it is articulated. People with speech disorders may have difficulty speaking or be unable to speak at all. They may have a stutter that affects their ability to communicate clearly. SLPs working with speech disorders even help those with improper voice pitch or harshness.

Language Disorders: These disorders involve the understanding of language and the ability to express thoughts and ideas. SLPs will help clients improve expression and idea communication in their spoken and written language.

Social Communication Disorders: Some disorders, such as autism, make it hard to understand social communication norms. Speech pathologists can help those with social communication disorders learn skills such as how to tell a story properly, understand when to ask questions, or properly greet others.

Swallowing Disorders: SLPs often work with clients who have dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).

Cognitive Communication Disorders: SLPs may help those with disorders involving cognitive communication. This includes areas such as organizing thoughts, memory, and paying attention. These disorders can be the result of a brain tumor, traumatic brain damage, or other cause.

Deafness and Hearing Disabilities: SLPs also help those who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate.

 

Where Speech Pathologists Work

How you specialize within the field may also depend on where you work. For example, those working in schools may work with younger patients who have stutters or autistic patients who need help with social communication. SLPs working in hospitals may help stroke victims with their ability to swallow.

Here are the settings where you are most likely to work after you become a speech pathologist:

Setting % of Speech Pathologists
Educational services; state, local, and private 43%
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 20%
Hospitals; state, local, and private 14%
Nursing and residential care facilities 5%
Self-employed workers 5%

Data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Last updated 2/20/18