How Do You Become an Elementary School Speech Therapist?

Speech TherapistIf you enjoy helping children and have a love of language, you may be interested in learning about how to become an elementary school speech therapist. Speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, are trained professionals who provide services that assist both children and adults who are experiencing speech difficulties. They can provide one-on-one assistance or group therapy, and they primarily work in schools. There are other settings in which speech therapists are employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read on to learn more about this career and the kind of education that is required to enter the profession.

What They Do

Speech therapists often work as part of a team. In a school setting, you would find yourself as an important member of the special education team. Speech-language pathologists use their expert knowledge, along with diagnostic criteria and testing, to assess clients for speech disorders or language delays. If it is determined that a problem exists, the therapist will then work to coordinate a plan of treatment that sets specific goals, objectives and measurements in order to best serve the client or student. In a school setting, this treatment plan is known as an IEP, which stands for Individual Education Plan. The plan lays out the kinds of issues the student is having in school, the goals of therapy, treatments to be used and the approximate length of weekly sessions that will be needed to address the difficulties.

Speech therapists use a variety of methods, assessments, exercises and tools to teach clients new language patterns and to help them gain new verbal effective communication skills. Other members of a treatment team can include teachers, school administrators, medical professionals and family members. These individuals all work together to support the clients and to ensure that interventions are being uniformly practiced across all life settings.

Work Environment

The majority of speech-language pathologists work in some type of educational setting. This can be at either a public or private school.They are also often employed in practices with other types of rehabilitation specialists such as occupational and physical therapists or audiologists. Hospitals, nursing homes and residential treatment facilities hire speech therapists, as well. Social service agencies sometimes will have speech-language pathologists on staff.

Education Requirements

In order to become an elementary school speech therapist, you will need to obtain a Master’s in Speech Pathology degree at an institution that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. You do not usually need to have a particular Bachelor’s degree in order to be accepted at most of these programs, though each has their own specifications and may require you to have taken certain academic courses. Your graduate program will provide you with classroom learning along with clinical experiences so that you will be able to appropriately diagnose and treat clients with a wide variety of speech, language or swallowing disorders. Upon graduating from your master’s program with a satisfactory grade point average and the completion of approximately 400 hours of clinical work, you will need to become certified in order to practice. Certification is usually granted with a Certificate of Clinical Competence by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Related Resource: Vocational School

Speech-language pathologists play a critical role in improving the lives of people with vocal communication problems. You will likely receive a great deal of personal satisfaction if you decide to become an elementary school speech therapist.