What Does A Speech Language Pathologist Do? 

What Does A Speech Language Pathologist Do? 
What Does A Speech Language Pathologist Do? 

Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called speech pathologists or speech therapists, work with patients who have disorders including the inability to produce certain sounds, speech rhythm and fluency problems, or difficulties with their voices. 

If you are considering what a speech-language pathologist does, this article involves an assessment of the job description and the condition a speech-language pathologist treats.

What Does a Speech-Language Pathologist Do?

What Does a Speech-Language Pathologist Do?
What Does a Speech-Language Pathologist Do?

A speech-language pathologist is a health professional who diagnoses and treats patients who are suffering communication and swallowing problems. Their patients are both children and adults in clinics, schools, and hospitals.

When a speech-language pathologist evaluates the ability to communicate or swallow, they also diagnose underlying problems, develop a treatment plan, and provide therapy. To treat different disorders, their work may include:

  • Help people learn how to form sounds.
  • Teach how to speak clearly and properly.
  • Use therapy to strengthen muscles used to speak or swallow
  • Help patients increase the number of words they can say/understand
  • Work with other professionals to improve the way patients put words together in sentences
  • Provide augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems for severe language disorder conditions.
  • Educate patients and their families about how to overcome challenges.
  • Provide aural rehabilitation to improve the life of people with hearing loss.

Education, Training, and Certification

Education, Training, and Certification
Education, Training, and Certification

Education and Training

A speech-language pathologist has to obtain a degree from an institution the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). If you want to become a speech-language pathologist, you need to get a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. This position doesn’t require an undergraduate degree in speech pathology but you must undergo specific prerequisites.

In addition to subjects in anatomy, physiology, disorders, and the principles of acoustics, you also need to receive supervised clinical training in master’s programs.


Speech pathologists must be licensed, but the requirement varies based on each state. To learn more about licensure in the state, you can in the list at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Speech-Language Pathologist Skills and Competencies

Speech-Language Pathologist Skills and Competencies
Speech-Language Pathologist Skills and Competencies

In addition to the clinical knowledge and experience, speech-language pathologists need certain soft skills including:

  • Compassion: Like other healthcare jobs,  speech-language pathologists need to take care of clients’ well-being as well as support them emotionally.
  • Patience: The patient who needs a care plan from a speech pathologist may not respond to the treatment quickly. It’s important to have patience until the goal is met.
  • Listening and Speaking skills: As a speech pathologist, you must have clearly communicate with patients and other therapists to provide the most effective treatment.
  • Critical Thinking: When deciding on a treatment plan, speech-language pathologists need to evaluate the available options before deciding the best one.
  • Attention to Detail: This skill allows speech-language pathologists to carefully track their patients’ progress.

What Conditions Does a Speech-Language Pathologist Treat?

Here are some major conditions that a Speech Language Pathologist regularly deal with:

1. Speech Disorders

This condition makes it difficult to produce sounds, for example:

  • Apraxia: The brain has trouble directing the movements to speak.
  • Articulation Disorders: The inability to form certain sounds.
  • Stuttering: The speech is broken by pauses and repetition
  • resonance disorders.
  • Dysarthria: Get trouble in speech due to brain injury.

2. Language Disorders

Some examples of this condition:

  • Aphasia: Difficulty speaking or understanding other persons due to damage to the brain.
  • Auditory processing disorder: The brain has trouble understanding the sounds.
  • Cognitive-Communication Disorders
  • Typically, a brain injury causes problems with memory, attention, organization, reasoning, or cognitive-communication disorders. Therefore, it’s very difficult for a person to speak, listen, read, or write.

3. Social-Communication Disorders

These disorders make it difficult to communicate socially like greeting, asking questions, and taking part in conversations. Social-communication disorders can be caused by autism spectrum disorder or conditions like a traumatic brain injury.

4. Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing disorders or dysphagia are problems with eating and swallowing. These symptoms include coughing, choking during or after eating, taking much time to finish meals, and more.


Speech-language pathologists are highly-educated professionals who have can work in a variety of places such as hospitals, nursing care facilities, or other health-related locations. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of a speech-language pathologist is $77,510 ($37.26/hour). This is a potential career for those who study anatomy and physiology to evaluate and treat a broad range of delays and disorders.