Recently a middle school student emailed me:
I am doing a project for school on my dream job. When I am older I want to be an Elementary school speech pathologist. Do you think it would be possible for me to ask you a few questions over email about your career?
Of course, I said. Then she sent me a lot more questions than I expected, but I thought this would be a perfect blog post:
How did you get into this occupation? I had a friend of a friend that was a speech pathologist and I looked into it after I had worked in the corporate world for several years. I decided that I wanted to become a speech pathologist and make a difference in the lives of kids.
How did I find this job? Working as a speech pathologist most school districts post their jobs on the school district website.
How did I get interested in this interested in this field of work? I became interested in the field because I knew I wanted to work with kids and make a difference. I didn’t know exactly how that would look. I thought maybe I could work in the clinic setting. That’s what I initially thought I would do, but I changed my mind after enjoying my school placement.
What part-time jobs or volunteer work may help me get into this field? Your best bet is to volunteer with special needs children. Those kinds of opportunities happen through the park district as well as you can also be a helper in the classroom. I know many high school schools offer some kind of credit for students that go and shadow a teacher at an elementary school.
What are you expected to do on the job? I am expected to provide therapy to students with communication problems I also attend meetings about students that are academically at risk. Another thing I do is I perform evaluations on students suspected of having a speech problem.
What are some specific skills needed to be successful in the job? I would say that it is really important to be organized because you do need to stay on top of your schedule to make sure you’re seeing all the students of the times when the teachers can have them leave (so that they don’t miss too much of their academic day). You also need to make sure you are following special ed laws which also mean you have to be aware of the paperwork and there’s a lot of paperwork for each student speech therapy. I think being organized is the most important. I would say you need to be very flexible about your work because there are a lot of changes within a school day for students. Sometimes you can’t pick them up because they’re having a crisis or they’re in the middle of a test so you have to be flexible with your scheduling. Additionally you have to be flexible with how kids present when they come to speech therapy because sometimes they don’t want to work and you have to figure out how to get them to open up. It could be a great session – you can never tell.
What preparation and training and education is required for the job? You need to get a masters after obtaining a college degree. The first year after graduation is called your CF year (clinical fellowship year) where you are supervised so that you learn best practices for the setting you choose whether that would be a school or a hospital.
What is there that gives you personal satisfaction? I have seen students progress and meet their goals and being able to communicate more effectively at school. That makes them more employable in life and will help them get ahead.
What are the negatives? There is a lot of paperwork. I spend time filling out paperwork and making sure it’s right because there are laws and so you may need to be sure you don’t break them!
What are the work hours? If you work at a school, you work the school calendar so you would get summers off and other teacher holidays would be off as well.
Can you recommend any resources or websites about your career type? Yes I would suggest you check out Asha.org which is the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. They are the people that also provide a certificate of clinical competence (CCC) to all speech pathologists. It also elevates your pay and provide many resources for people who want like to become a speech pathologist.
Feel free to contact me with any more questions about my job!