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Carol's Speech and Language Disorders Homepage

What is a Speech/Language Specialist?
    This article will address the question, "What is a Speech/Language Specialist?"  It will discuss the various names we are known by and the various roles you might find us in.  I will also discuss the training one needs to pursue this as a career choice.

     When speaking or writing to parents and other professionals I refer to myself as a Speech/Language Specialist because that is what my most current state certificate is titled.  However, since I work with elementary school children, I refer to myself as the "Speech Teacher" when I am speaking with them.  It seems to help them understand that I am just like any other special teacher...the music teacher, art teacher, reading teacher, gym teacher, etc.    I have also been referred to as the speech therapist, speech - language therapist, speech teacher, speech correctionist, speech pathologist, speech-language pathologist, or communication specialist.

    So just what does a SLS do?  In the school setting, I wear many hats.  Here are a few of the things I do.  I...

     Although I work in a public school setting, other speech therapists work in hospitals and clinics, early intervention programs, private practice, or corporate settings.   In hospitals, speech therapists work with adults and children who have developmental speech/language difficulties or have developed a problem because of an accident, stroke, cancer, or other disease.  These therapists may help them with speaking, comprehension, feeding, or swallowing.  A therapist who works with early intervention programs works with at risk children from birth through the age of 3 to help them acquire maximal speech and language skills.  They work closely with the parents, teaching them to help their little one at home.  Private therapists often specialize in a particular area of interest, but may work with any of the above areas and even accent reduction.  In recent years, some corporations are hiring speech specialists to help employees learn to become more effective communicators by improving public speaking skills, reducing accents, and general speech improvement.

    In the State of New Jersey, one must have a master's degree in speech pathology plus many hours of supervised clinical experience in order to receive school certification.  A State license is required for private practice or work in hospitals or clinics. This also requires a master's degree in addition to the clinical experience and ongoing continuing education.   Most therapists in the field strive to achieve the nationally recognized Certificate of Clinical Competence issued by  ASHA, the American Speech and Hearing Association.  This certificate requires a master's degree with a broad range of required courses, 500 hours of supervised clinical experience, a passing grade on a national exam for speech pathology, and a supervised clinical fellowship year.

    The field of speech and language pathology is an exciting one.  It is everchanging and offers a wide variety of experiences.