Speech-Language Pathologist  What They Do

Just the Facts


Assesses and treats persons with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. May select alternative communication systems and teach their use. May perform research related to speech and language problems.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Monitors patients' progress and adjusts treatments accordingly.
  • Develops or implements treatment plans for problems such as stuttering, delayed language, swallowing disorders, or inappropriate pitch or harsh voice problems, based on own assessments and recommendations of physicians, psychologists, or social workers.
  • Writes reports and maintains proper documentation of information, such as client Medicaid or billing records or caseload activities, including the initial evaluation, treatment, progress, and discharge of clients.
  • Evaluates hearing or speech and language test results, barium swallow results, or medical or background information to diagnose and plan treatment for speech, language, fluency, voice, or swallowing disorders.
  • Participates in and writes reports for meetings regarding patients' progress, such as individualized educational planning (IEP) meetings, in-service meetings, or intervention assistance team meetings.
  • Completes administrative responsibilities, such as coordinating paperwork, scheduling case management activities, or writing lesson plans.
  • Develops individual or group activities or programs in schools to deal with behavior, speech, language, or swallowing problems.
  • Instructs clients in techniques for more effective communication, such as sign language, lip reading, or voice improvement.
  • Administers hearing or speech and language evaluations, tests, or examinations to patients to collect information on type and degree of impairments, using written or oral tests or special instruments.
  • Educates patients and family members about various topics, such as communication techniques or strategies to cope with or to avoid personal misunderstandings.

Insider Info

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Speech-Language Pathologists

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Voice Pathologist -- Diagnoses and treats voice disorders, such as those associated with professional use of voice.
  • Ear Specialist --
  • Hearing Specialist --
  • Speech Therapist --
  • Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist --
  • Audiometrist --