Tools of the Trade
Communication Sciences and Disorders is the academic discipline that prepares students to enter the profession of speech-language pathology and/or audiology. Individuals pursing such careers have an interest in working with people who have communication deficits in the area(s) of speech and/or language and/or hearing and also swallowing disorders.
An individual must earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from a graduate program that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) of ASHA, pass the national examination in speech-language pathology, and complete a nine-month Clinical Fellowship. The academic institution offering the degree must also hold a regional accreditation.
Individuals who are ASHA-certified are qualified to work with individuals across the life span who have communication and swallowing disorders in a variety of work settings such as schools, hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and private practice.
It is important to note that most states within the United Sates require that individuals hold a state license in speech-language pathology and/or audiology in order to legally engage in clinical practice.
ASHA is the professional organization that determines the standards and ethics by which speech-language pathologists and audiologists practice their profession. ASHA also has a division called the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) who is responsible for determining accreditation standards for graduate programs in speech-language pathology and/or audiology. The CAA is also the group who accredits such academic programs.
Speech-language pathologists can also participate in state organizations such as the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association (PSHA) and regional organizations such as the Northeastern Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Pennsylvania (NESHAP). Individuals can also participate in local organizations, agencies, and support groups within their community.