Here is an honest look as to why you might want or not want to become a speech pathologist.
Do you want to get a speech pathologist talking? Ask them why they like their job. The reasons abound as to why becoming a speech pathologist is a great idea and we are statistically one of the happiest professions. Here are just a few reasons:
- Good pay
- Good hours
- The ability to change directions in your career and remain a speech pathologist
- The ability to contribute to a growing body of medical knowledge
- Individual freedom
Sign me up! What’s not to like?
However, speech pathology isn’t the only great job on the planet and we still regularly field comments posed like this:
I currently need a career change and I’m looking into Speech Language Pathology or Occupational Therapy. What I do right now just doesn’t fit with my personality. However, I can’t make-up my mind as I’m not sure which career path would be good for me….
We asked fellow professionals what would make it difficult to pursue speech pathology careers and got some really thought provoking answers.
1. Are you okay with progress being slow?
Different careers offer different paces as to when work can be considered complete. When we work with children and adults who have impairments we make “huge” gains. Huge to them, but tiny and incremental, which add up to significant changes over time. Speech pathologists who love their job are patient and methodical. This doesn’t mean we are not ecstatic when we dismiss a child or adult from needing services. Heck, I would argue that the elation is even greater because of the time you have put in.
2. Do you talk a lot?
Educators by their nature are usually very chatty and we indeed spend the lion’s share of our day with our mouths open. This point did not hit home until the last semester when I worked on some computer-based projects in a work/share environment. It was eerily silent and interaction was highly discouraged. I realized how socialized I had been to yapping as I was internally driven to verbally share after every typed paragraph. I shared this with my little sister who is brilliant and quiet and she reminded me that introversion is not a disorder. Seriously though, when I began this job my spouse thought there was something wrong because I was exhausted from speaking by the end of the day.
3. Do you like to work one-on-one?
Several SLPs who came over from teaching shared that they made the jump over to speech therapy because they were missing the individualized connection with the ones that they were serving. Yes we work in groups at times but it is usually less than three and you are responsible for the outcomes. No shared responsibility or hiding in a crowd. Every day you note progress, and write insurance notes and evaluations with the differences that you made. There is pride in this facet of our jobs that is appealing. If you solely envision serving on a team, know that this job is a bit of both.
4. Are you creative?
We spend a lot of time making things, downloading things, and most importantly adapting things. Let me give an example by way of explanation. Children with impairments cannot do what is being asked of them in class, hence the impairment. We create materials that are modified versions of their classroom expectations. Yes, most SLPs seriously enjoy making crafts and materials but they are being humble about what is, frankly, truly genius: the ability to meet a child at the level that they are performing and raise them up. You deconstruct an activity in your mind and re-present it in a way that is digestible to a small person. This is creativity at its finest.
5. Do you love thinking about language and communication?
Speech-language pathologists geek out on words, what they mean, word play and how words (through language) interact with one another. In order for an SLP to teach language and communication, she needs to think about how language is acquired. In other words, how do people learn to talk? So, it’s not surprising to hear SLPs use cheesy, word humor at parties and attend pun-offs (http://www.punpunpun.com/).
6. Do you find yourself advocating for and championing others?
People with communication disorders are misunderstood (I warned you about the punning above!). Seriously, when a person can’t communicate it is frustrating. This usually manifests itself in a child as undesired behavior. Communication difficulties can be misconstrued as low IQ. Yet, there is not a correlation between communication disorders and low intelligence. With adult populations, some disorders cause slurring and a person can “appear drunk.” Aphasia can make a person seem confused or not be able to verbalize communication at all. You, the SLP often explain the disorder to people in their work and home environment so that your client or student is treated fairly for who they are.
We know why we are here but there are always two sides to every story. An honest account of why speech pathology careers make sense can only lead to being able to call more of the right types of people colleagues.
Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Jobs – ASHA Speech Pathology Careers