Speech therapists, also known as speech pathologists, work with children and adults to treat speech disorders and other communication issues. They use a wide variety of techniques such as language intervention and oral muscle strengthening exercises to help their patients communicate more effectively. In some cases, they treat swallowing problems as well.
Speech therapists can find work in a wide variety of environments, including:
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Doctors’ offices
- Rehab centers
Speech therapists deal with many different types of speech issues, including fluency disorders, receptive disorders, and aphasia. Whether their clients were born with speech issues or developed them from an accident or other trauma, they must know exactly how to address their specific needs.
Should I become a speech therapist?
Although the speech pathologist job description can be rather broad, with proper training, you’ll be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. And with an average salary of $77,510 per year in the United States, the career can be quite rewarding financially as well as emotionally!
A career in speech therapy is a great way to make a difference and leave a lasting, positive mark on peoples’ lives. However, before signing up for a degree program, it’s important to make sure that you fit the speech pathologist personality type. Let’s take a look at some traits that make an excellent speech therapist so you’ll know if this exciting career path is right for you!
Compassion for all people.
Compassion is arguably the most important characteristic that every speech therapist should possess. Many people seeking speech therapy will feel vulnerable and anxious, especially for their first few visits. It’s crucial to show empathy to all your clients and let them know that you understand what they’re going through. For your therapy techniques to be effective, you’ll need to make them feel comfortable at all times.
Compassion is especially important when working with young children and their families. Many children will be afraid to see a therapist for the first time, and their parents will be uncertain as well. In some cases, the parents will be worried and upset that their child will never be able to speak normally. You’ll need to show empathy to both clients and caregivers, every step of the way.
Another situation where compassion is crucial is when someone has experienced an accident or other trauma. They may feel like no one could possibly understand what they’re going through, or that they’ll never be able to communicate properly ever again. Your job as a speech therapist is to give them hope and show them that this simply isn’t the case.
Excellent social skills.
Good social skills are a must for all aspiring speech pathologists. Since your goal is to help clients speak more effectively, you need to have clear, sharp verbal communication skills yourself. Aside from working with clients all day, you’ll need to coordinate with parents, doctors, and other healthcare workers as well.
The speech therapist career path is ideal for extroverts, as well as those who like working in groups. Being social all day every day is one of the main parts of the job: Therefore, people who find themselves getting tired or irritated after too much social activity may have a difficult time. In order to succeed, you’ll need to be able to get along with people of all ages and backgrounds.
A drive to help others.
A desire to make a difference and enrich the lives of other people is essential for success as a speech therapist. You’ll face many challenges on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes, your only reward will be your client’s smile after a long therapy session. Therefore, you should be the type of person who gets great satisfaction from helping others and seeing them improve. You should always be of the mindset that your client’s success is your success!
A healthy dose of enthusiasm.
As a speech therapist, it’s important to always be enthusiastic and motivated—even when your clients aren’t. Many times, you’ll work with patients who are feeling negatively about their situation and may need some extra encouragement. They may feel intimidated or depressed by the long path ahead of them, but it’s your job to encourage them and make them feel enthusiastic again.
If you have a naturally upbeat personality, this shouldn’t be a problem at all. It helps if you’re the type of person who always sees the glass as “half full.” This job will quickly teach you to enjoy a good challenge, so you can’t ever allow the feelings of defeat to get the best of you!
The ability to learn from your mistakes.
As a speech therapist, your education doesn’t end on the day you graduate. In fact, you’ll learn something new almost every day on the job. You probably never considered that your clients will be teaching you as much as you teach them, but many experienced speech pathologists say that this is the case.
And when working with clients, you can’t get discouraged if you make a mistake, or if your techniques aren’t as successful as you hope. Most of your clients won’t master new exercises on their first attempt, and sometimes you may even feel like this is your fault: But it’s important to remember every single “failure” is just a chance to do better next time for both you and your client.
An aptitude for teaching.
Since so much of your job will center around instructing others and demonstrating proper speech techniques, you’ll need to be comfortable with teaching. You’ll be expected to guide clients through exercises on a regular basis, and correct their improper speaking form. It’s very important that you clearly convey what your clients are doing wrong and how they can fix it. If you aren’t confident in your teaching abilities, you need to be willing to put in the extra effort until you feel comfortable instructing others.
A rewarding career in speech therapy awaits!
These are only a few of the most important aspects of the speech pathologist personality type. Some of these characteristics, such as being a good teacher, can be learned with a lot of practice. Others, such as empathy and a drive to help others, are something that comes naturally.
Before committing to a speech pathology program, be sure to reflect on all these traits and make sure your personality is cut out for the job. If you feel like a lot of these characteristics describe you already, then a career in speech therapy could be perfect for you!
Erica Ciko Campbell
Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Biology| Utica College
Associate of Science (A.S.)| Herkimer County Community College
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