Florida Speech-Language Pathologists are in High Demand
Florida speech-language pathologists are in high-demand – at our Southwest Florida pediatric therapy clinic and elsewhere. Speech-language pathology (SLP) ranks as one of the most desirable – and fulfilling – careers out there. Not only do these professionals enjoy significant job stability, good compensation, and numerous opportunities for career advancement, they have a direct role in the tangible well-being of their patients – and that’s truly why most of us are drawn to this field.
We know that at FOCUS Therapy, watching a pediatric speech therapy session can seem a bit like you’re watching play time. (And don’t get us wrong – we do have A LOT of fun!) But there is actually a great deal of study and consideration that goes into tailoring each session to help the individual child reach their goals.
We find that for parents, it’s helpful to know exactly the kind of training and dedication these professionals take on to get to the point of being able to structure play-based therapy (the kind we find most effective when working with children).
What Exactly Do Florida Speech-Language Pathologists Do?
Speech-language pathologists are experts in communication, and can actually work with people of ages – from infants to the elderly. They treat many different kinds of issues related to communication and swallowing. Some of these include:
- Speech sounds. This is how we say sounds and put sounds together to form words. We sometimes refer to these as articulation or phonological disorders. They can also include dysarthria and apraxia of speech.
- Language. This is how well we understand what we hear or read and how we use words to tell others what we’re thinking. With adults, this is referred to as aphasia.
- Literacy. This refers to how well someone is able to read and write. Lots of people (especially children) with speech & language disorders may also have trouble reading, writing, and spelling.
- Social communication. This is how well someone is able to follow social rules, like talking to different people, how close you should stand to someone when you’re talking, and how to take turns in a conversation. Formally, this is referred to as pragmatics.
- Voice. This is how a voice sounds. One might talk through their nose, speak too loudly, lose their voice easily, sound hoarse, or struggle/be unable to make sounds at all.
- Fluency. Most people know this as “stuttering,” and it refers to how well speech flows. Lots of young children stutter, but many grow out of it. Those with persistent issues should consult with an SLP.
- Feeding and swallowing. This involves how a person chews, sucks, and swallows liquid and food. Poor nutrition can cause a host of health problems. Southwest Florida speech-language pathologists can help.
- Cognitive communication. A deficit in this area would involve problems with organization, attention, memory, problem-solving and other thinking skills.
You can find speech-language pathologists in private pediatric practices like FOCUS Therapy, but they’re also employable at schools, hospitals, doctors’ offices, rehabilitation clinics, and colleges/universities.
Steps to Becoming an SLP
The basic steps to becoming a speech-language pathologist in Florida are:
- Earning your bachelor’s degree in a related field. This is a four-year commitment. Two undergraduate degrees that many SLPs commonly earn are a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. These are ideal if you know early on you want to become a speech-language pathologist. But it’s not uncommon for people to switch majors a few years in. Other bachelor’s degrees that can be well-suited to a later career in speech-language pathology are education, linguistics, and psychology (particularly if you pair them with a minor in something like communication sciences and disorders.
- Earning your master’s degree in speech-language pathology. Once you finish your undergraduate degree, you’ll enroll in a graduate program accredited by the CAA, which is part of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA. The exact curriculum can vary depending on the program you choose, but it’s 60 credit hours of material, consisting of both academic and clinical work, giving students an opportunity to learn about key concepts, like dysphasia and apraxia. Typically, you must have certain undergraduate prerequisite courses, such as anatomy & physiology of the speech and hearing mechanism, introduction to audiology, language development, and phonetics.
- Passing the Praxis exam in Speech-Language Pathology. This exam tests your understanding about the foundations of speech-language pathology, screening, patient assessment, treatment implementation, and more. Most grad students take it during their last semester.
- Completing a clinical fellowship. Candidates for SLP licensure must complete 300 clock hours of supervised clinical practicum AND have nine months of professional experience, full or part-time. (Those who do not meet the latter provision can be granted a provisional license which is valid for up to two years).
From there, one can apply for license verification. It should be noted that there is reciprocity for Florida speech therapists. That means SLPs from other states can be verified for a license in Florida if they’re licensed in another state (assuming the licensure criteria is equal to or more stringent than the licensure criteria in Florida) – and vice versa.
On top of all this, if you want to maintain your Florida SLP license, you are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education biennially, 50 hours for those with dual licenses.
What About Becoming a Certified Speech-Language Pathology Assistant in Florida?
To become an ASHA-certified speech-language pathology assistant (C-SLPA), one must:
- Complete a 2-year minimum SLPA program degree from an accredited institution.
- Receive a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from an accredited college or institution.
- Receive successful completion of coursework from an accredited university that encompasses courses like speech sound disorders, phonetics, language disorders, and language development.
Demand for Florida SLPs and SLPAs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for speech-language pathologists is expected to grow by nearly 30 percent between 2020 and 2030 – MUCH faster than for all occupations.
Florida is among those with the highest demand/employment level for speech-language pathologists.
If you’re looking for a speech-language pathology job in Southwest Florida, FOCUS Therapy wants to hear from you! We also accept student fellowships and externships.
Contact us online or by calling (239) 313-5049. FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida – including virtual speech therapy.
2020 Standards for ASHA Speech-Language Pathology Assistants Certification, July 2020, ASHA
More Blog Entries:
Does My Child Need Pediatric Speech Therapy? Dec. 13, 2021, Fort Myers Pediatric Speech Therapist Blog
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