5 Tips on How to Become a Speech Language Pathologist From a Certified Professional
After teaching special education for three years, Emily J. Cross decided to go back to school in pursuit of her Masters Degree in Communication Disorders. Although she enjoyed working within school settings, she ultimately sought to become a Speech Language Pathologist for the increased flexibility and earning potential. After having completed her degree and subsequently adding the credentials “M.Ed CCC-SLP” after her name, Cross founded “Cross Communication” for Children in the Washington D.C. metro area.
“Everyday I work with students from preschool through middle school who experience varying communication challenges,” Cross explained. “Knowing that I am working to make their quality of life better, by teaching the self-advocacy and effective communication skills they need to interact with others in their environments, is very rewarding.”
Cross has learned a lot about this career in healthcare thanks to her first-hand experiences. Based on her working knowledge, here are 5 tips on how to become a Speech Language Pathologist she would offer to any prospective SPL considering this career in healthcare:
1. Research the career before you invest in the Master’s Degree
There are certain traits which are ideal for Speech Language Pathologists to possess, such as kindness, compassion and understanding. This career in healthcare additionally requires a great deal of patience, and so those who do not possess a toleration for delays or gradual improvement may not be best suited for this occupation.
“A degree in speech pathology takes a lot of time, money and energy,” Cross stressed. “Make sure this is the career for you before putting forth all that effort.”
2. Choose a Master’s Degree program wisely
“I’ve learned that not all degree programs are created equally,” Cross noted. “Make sure you compare what each program has to offer, ensuring that you’ll be supported and given opportunities to fully experience the different aspects of this career.”
When choosing a Master’s Degree program in SLP, learners should consider common factors such as cost and location in addition to program requirements and mandated clinical experience. Learners should also make sure that their intended program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA).
3. Network with Speech Language Pathologists
There is no greater way to learn about a career than from a professional currently in the role. Therefore, networking with Speech Language Pathologists already practicing in the field can provide important insights and even lead to career opportunities.
“Life has a funny way of changing. You never know what setting or even state you’ll end up working in. Having a support network of other SLP’s is very helpful for a variety of reasons,” Cross expressed.
4. Learn about all of the different possible work environments
“Don’t just stick to just hospitals, schools or private practices,” Cross advised. “The ‘speech umbrella’ is huge, and throughout a 30 year career span a professional can continuously switch things up to keep things exciting!”
Workplaces which typically employ Speech-Language Pathologists include state, local or private educational services. They also include the offices of Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Audiologists or Speech Therapists themselves. Shadowing in these different environments can help provide prospective on which is a professional’s ideal workplace match.
5. Learn how to leave work, at work
“This is cliché, but leaving work at work is the hardest thing to do. Speech Language Pathologists have very demanding roles and the productivity expectation is extremely high,” Cross said.
Cross continued by explaining that she works in a day treatment program which assists children with severe emotional disabilities. She said that because this role can be both stressful and overwhelming, learning how to ‘take a break, sit still, unwind and recharge,’ has been extremely helpful in helping her achieve an elusive work-life balance.
Learn how to take the first step toward entering a career in healthcare as a Speech Language Pathologist today!