Speech Pathology Assistant: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Speech pathology involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of disorders related to speech, language and fluency. Speech pathology assistants work directly under licensed speech pathologists, aiding them in their daily responsibilities. While an associate's degree is typically acceptable for a position as a speech pathology assistant, certain states require further education to meet licensure requirements.

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Speech Pathology Assistant Job Description and Duties

Speech pathology assistants work in numerous settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics and long-term health care facilities. They can perform many tasks delegated by speech pathologists, such as assisting in hearing screenings and checking equipment. Speech pathology assistants also are permitted to follow documented treatment plans created by licensed pathologists and to informally document a patient's performance. Other tasks might include research assistance and aiding in the creation and maintenance of public relations programs.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the professional credentialing association for audiologists, speech pathologists and hearing scientists, has laid out rules and regulations to prevent the misuse of speech pathology assistants. Prohibited tasks include signing of formal documents, performing diagnostic tests, participating in conferences of any type and creating treatment plans without the supervision of a licensed speech pathologist.

Salary Outlook and Employment Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide data specifically for speech-pathology assistants, but it does have data for all medical assistants. The BLS notes that employment opportunities for all of these assistants regardless of speciality were expected to increase 31% from 2010-2020, which is faster than average. Medical assistants in general earned a mean annual income of $30,550 as of 2012 (www.bls.gov).

Educational Requirements for Speech Pathology Assistants

While there is no standard degree requirement for a position as a speech pathology assistant, the ASHA recommends completing at least an associate's degree program. Typical coursework covers communication disorders, normal communication processes and workplace behaviors. Speech pathology assistants also may be required to complete a certain amount of fieldwork before being fully acknowledged in their profession.

State Requirements for Speech Pathology Assistants

States have varying educational requirements for speech pathology assistants, with some requiring a bachelor's degree and graduate-level courses. In addition to differences in educational requirements, regulations regarding the employment of speech pathology assistants vary from state to state. While some entirely prohibit the use of speech pathology assistants, other states license them through their educational boards and limit their practice to schools and learning institutions.

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