Featured Career: Speech-Language Pathologist

I’m still looking to build up my bank of featured careers! So if you’d like to be featured in the new year shoot me an email! amber (at) girlwiththeredhair (dot) com.

I’m also looking for more Stay at Home mom’s to feature! I feature any and all careers, so if you think your career is “boring”, it probably isn’t and I would LOVE to feature you 🙂

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Here are the last five careers I’ve featured and you can find ALL my career features HERE!

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Today I’m featuring long-time reader Joey who is a speech-language pathologist! Thanks Joey!

JOEY 1

1. What is your official job title and what exactly does your job entail?

I’m a registered speech-language pathologist (SLP).  I work for a small, private company where I see clients in the school system, as well as through contracts with different agencies.  I see children who have speech sound errors, as well as children who have delayed or disordered language and communication.  Speech sound therapy involves working on sounds people aren’t using correctly.  This could be lisps and distorted sounds (l, r, s), as well as patterns of sound errors (like when a child always substitutes a /t/ for a /k/, as in “teep” instead of “keep”).  Language therapy includes a lot of different components, from working with young children who are not speaking yet to working on grammar, syntax, and social communication with people who are a wide range of ages.  Fluency (stuttering) therapy is also a component of my job; however, clients who have fluency challenges make up a small part of my caseload.

When I go out to schools, I provide consultation for the speech-language assistants by initially demonstrating techniques and then observing and answering any questions.  I also consult to the direction the speech therapy will go in terms of which sounds or grammar concepts to work on.  At the beginning and end of the year, I give speech and language assessments to my clients and write up reports with possible goals, as well as progress.
For home visits, the process is somewhat similar, with modeling techniques to aides and parents.  I work in an office with different professionals (behaviour consultants, OT), so there is quite a bit of collaboration around goals. There are also meetings to discuss goals and funding.

I also run groups (e.g., an early language facilitation group) and give presentations.

2. How did you get into your field of work?

I became aware of speech therapy when I was in elementary school.  I had speech therapy for a slight lisp.  I didn’t see the SLP very often or for very long, but I remembered having a great time (playing a fish game of some sort) and not feeling like we were working on something “wrong” with my speech; rather we were just practicing sounds.  It stuck with me.

Needing to have a Masters intimidated me, so I didn’t pursue being a SLP until after I finished my bachelors (in English) and worked for a few years.  At that time, I researched the profession, shadowed in the school system, and chatted with some SLPs who specialized in different areas.  Everyone, for the most part, loved the job.  More importantly though, most people I talked to immediately let me know there was a wide range of jobs available and so many different things I could do as a SLP.  So, I applied, still unsure until the 11th hour, but headed down to school in the US to complete a post-bac year and then the Masters.  Glad I did, because being a SLP is a great fit for me and I truly enjoy my job.

JOEY 2

3. Describe a typical day in your work life?

My days are pretty different depending on what I have scheduled for the day, but here is a general overview.
With clients with whom I visit at home, I start work at 8:30 and typically spend the first 15 minutes checking and answering emails.  Then depending on the day, I prep to see my first client, go to the home for a visit, write a “note” while I am there with strategies, goals, and other pertinent information, then come back to the office or go to another visit.  In the homes, I talk with the parents and the aide (who works with the child on goals) to see how things are going, answer questions, and give feedback.

On certain days, my office has scheduled meetings for the whole team to discuss office policies and a myriad of other things.  These meetings last anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours, depending on the week.  In addition, I also schedule in meetings with the other SLPs in my office and with my “mentor” at work to discuss any tough cases and any of my questions (which is fantastic, as I’m a new-ish grad).

When I go out to schools, I usually start driving out to the school between 7:45 and 8:15.  The drive can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.  I typically see three or four children in the same class, although sometimes it’s only one.  Sometimes I attend meetings around program planning for students where I discuss the goals I made, as well as the strategies.

12-1pm is lunch!  My office is great – We have a gym to hold groups which is large enough for about 6 of us to work out at lunch together.

It’s pretty much the same for the afternoon: appointments, reports, prep, and meetings.  I also may run a group in the later afternoon (i.e., 4:00-5:30pm).

4. What’s your least favourite thing about your job?

Scheduling!  I’m very bad at this and always underestimate how long appointments will take.  I also overbook myself because I think I can handle it and then get unnecessarily frazzled.

JOEY 3

5. What is something about your job that surprises people?

That we don’t just work on speech sounds (lisps!) and fluency.  SLPs work with such a wide variety of clients, from young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to adults who have had strokes (for language, as well as swallowing).  Also, we work with clients on social aspects of communication (conversations, pragmatics, how people interact together to get their message across).

6. If you could describe your career in one word, what would that word be?

“Ever-learning” (not a “real” word, but suitable!).  In this profession, as with many, research is always changing and new ideas for strategies and best practice are being put forward.  I LOVE that I get to learn all the time and will continue to do so until my career is finished.

7. Anything else you’d like to add?

If you are interested at all in speech-language pathology as a career, then I recommend shadowing (or at least talking to SLPs) in a few different areas (pediatrics, school system, adult rehab, adult acute if possible) to see where your interests may lie (this completely changed for me when I finished school).  Also, keep in mind checking out schools in other countries if the place you live doesn’t have many options.  Canada only has a few schools which offer Masters programs for SLP, so many of the SLPs practicing in Canada actually went to school in the US (like me!).

13 Responses

  1. Kelly says:

    Another great career feature 🙂 My classroom aide from last year is going back to school for speech and I’m really excited for her- she worked last year with a student in my class with autism so I know she is going to be great at that job (after all the school!). Since I teach kindergarten the SLP is probably the specialist teacher that I work most closely with at my school, especially because we do have the autism program but also for kids who just need a little help with pronunciation. I always find it amazing how I can be like “I can’t understand ___” and in 3 minutes of listening to them she can tell me exactly what the errors are. Since I am a reading person, I can totally do that for reading but my mind doesn’t work in the speech way! Last year I had one child who I couldn’t understand AT ALL at the beginning of the year. He ended up getting help and in less than 2 months it was a completely different story. Amazing.

    I’m wondering why you decided to work at a private company vs. be a SLP in a public school? I know there are probably positives and negatives on both end so I was just curious 🙂 I’ve really only had experiences with the public school SLP.

    • Joey says:

      It was really just a matter of timing. A private place was advertising when I was looking and when I had the interview, I really liked the office philosophy and what the job entailed. I also liked that there were other professionals in the same office (OT and behaviour), so they followed a multidisciplinary model. Also, I’m still able to work in the schools with Pre-K and K (two of my fav age groups to work with) due to the contracts the office has in place. So it was a good fit overall. Excited to hear your aide is going back to school for SLP after good experiences in the classroom!

  2. My group of girlfriends always talks about how some of us totally missed the boat on pursuing this career. We just weren’t aware of it. I know a couple of girls who are SLP and they LOVE their jobs.

    I had to see a SLP when I was in 4th grade, though, and honestly it was not a good experience. The therapist was really nice, but after we finished the session, she would put a sticker on me that said, ‘ask me to say ship’ or whatever word we had worked on that day (I can’t remember what words I had trouble with, I have blocked the experience!)… I most definitely ripped that sticker off my shirt the minute I got out of therapy. I thought it was a pretty crappy thing to do as most kids don’t want attention drawn to words they struggle to say and I did not want other kids knowing I was going to speech therapy! I am pretty sure that sort of thing would never happen these days, though!!

    • Joey says:

      Eeeps, that’s nasty! I definitely don’t do that! Sorry you had such a bad experience.

      • Lisa of Lisa's Yarns says:

        Yah I asked my friend who is a SLP about it and she said that would NEVER happen these days! It was way back in the late 80s/early 90s and they maybe didn’t think about the stigma around going to therapy, I think? Oh well, despite that bad experience the therapy was helpful and I only had to go for a year!

  3. lisa says:

    Interesting career. I have a neice who considered doing this. She’s a middle school English teacher instead.

  4. Ris says:

    Oh this is so interesting! I had no idea what all it entailed!

  5. Nora says:

    I love reading about this profession; I have a friend who does this as well and she loves it (and coincidentally a lot of her challenges are similar to Joey’s, in terms of scheduling and etc.)

    I personally think it’s a very cool profession as well!

  6. This is such a cool feature on your blog – I like these posts 🙂

  7. Laura says:

    Just found your blog through dietician on the run, and had to check out a fellow redhead. 🙂 Really enjoyed reading! I am a MSW (social worker) turned stay-at-home mom, and would be happy to contribute if you’re still looking! Happy running!

  8. Kaleigh says:

    Just learned all about speech-language pathology last month and it’s the coolest thing. I love learning about careers I didn’t know about. Wish there were more ways to find out about all the options. I think the number of different careers goes up all the time and we don’t know about the new and exciting ones until we’re already doing something else.

  9. Moving On… says:

    […] sort of decided a few weeks ago that I’m not sure if counseling is for me. I saw Amber’s post and it inspired me to look into Speech Language Pathology. My school (the University of Tennessee […]

  10. Megan says:

    This has definitely inspired me to get my M.S. in SLP after I receive my B.S. in Psychology. A family friend is an SLP, and I may get to shadow her soon. Such a rewarding career!

    My nephew is ten months old, and he was born with a split uvula. The doctors said he MAY need speech therapy someday, so I think it will be interesting if I’m able to help him out at that point in his life. 🙂

    Thanks for posting this, Amber!