Becoming a Clinical Voice Pathologist
Clinical Voice Pathologists diagnose and treat individuals who have problems in voice, speech, swallowing and language, which result from a variety of causes, such as emotional problems, developmental delay, stroke, brain injury, a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, or any physical disabilities. Their responsibilities include analyzing patients’ communication capabilities, developing appropriate treatment plans, teaching sign language techniques, monitoring patient progress, counseling patients and their families on how to cope with communication disorders etc. In addition, they also perform administrative tasks, such as keeping accurate records, scheduling meetings etc. Some of these professionals may conduct research work in the area of voice disorders and communications problems.
Clinical Voice Pathologists are employed in different settings such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, offices of audiologists, social work agencies, educational institutions, research facilities etc. They often work full time. They are involved in either group or solo practice.
To become a Clinical Voice Pathologist, the aspiring candidates need to earn a two-year master’s degree in speech pathology from an accredited institution. The syllabus may include topics in anatomy, physiology, speech development, alternative communication methods, principles of acoustics etc.
Certification and Licensure
Since a Clinical Voice Pathologist needs to be licensed in almost all states of the USA, the candidates need supervised clinical experience, a master’s degree in related field and to pass the necessary examination to earn a required license. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offer exam-based certification to these professionals.
Apart from clinical knowledge, Clinical Voice Pathologists possess various traits such as strong attention to detail, empathy towards patients, ability to emotionally support the patients and their families, actively listening abilities, high level understanding of patients’ needs and interest, effectively counseling skills, problem solving and decision making capacities, tolerance for abnormal behavior of clients, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, competent in computer operations etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Clinical Voice Pathologist remains excellent across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 19% during 2012-2022. The average annual salary of a Clinical Voice Pathologist was $69,870 in May 2012.