Speech Language Pathology & Audiology Overview
Audiology and speech pathology is the area of study and practice the related to the identification and treatment of hearing and speech disorders in order to assist children and adults. Individuals in this field will perform tests in order to determine the severity and complications of patients, followed by working with parents and other professionals in order to develop a treatment plan in order to remedy problems as much as possible.
What is Audiology?
Audiology is the field of study focused on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing issues and associated balance problems in children and adults. The top job duties of an audiologist include the following:
- Assessing and treating tinnitus
- Evaluating clients for central auditory processing disorders
- Prescribing hearing rehabilitation treatment plans
- Evaluating hearing loss issues
- Analyzing balance disorders
- Recommending hearing aid treatments or hearing amplification technologies
- Crafting hearing conservation plans
- Monitoring inner-ear problems
- Participating with specialists in cochlear implants
What is Speech Pathology?
Speech pathology or speech language pathology is the study of correctly producing fluent sounds and speech. Speech pathologists help identify, diagnose, and treat speech disorders that range from pronunciation, fluency, stuttering, voice, and resonance along with receptive language (understanding others) and expressive language (sharing thoughts or ideas with others). Top job functions of a speech language pathologist include:
- Treating language, communication, swallowing, and/or speech disorders
- Educating clients, guardians, and caregivers on speech pathology
- Collaborating with cross-functional professionals on behalf of clients
- Evaluating clients with speech-related disorders & creating treatment plans
Degrees in Audiology and Speech Pathology
There are a number of degrees to choose from when considering a future in speech pathology and audiology. Students can select from bachelor degrees in audiology and speech pathology through graduate programs from accredited colleges and universities. A brief overview of each type of degree program is listed below to help you better understand the higher education options available to select for your future.
Bachelor’s Degree in Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology
Online bachelor degrees in audiology and speech-language pathology are 4-year programs and can be found from accredited colleges and universities as either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) depending on the emphasis of the program and core curricula. Courses in the bachelor degree program will typically include classes in phonetics, psychology, linguistics, communication disorders, speech science, language science, and hearing science. It is common for students to earn a secondary degree or dual major in a related program such as psychology, counseling, or linguistics.
Graduate Certificate in Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology
The online graduate certificate programs in speech-language pathology and audiology require students to have an undergraduate degree in an approved program prior to matriculation. Certificate programs are generally less than one year programs that are designed to help working professionals and qualifying students gain additional knowledge in a defined are of speech pathology or audiology. Certificate programs are often used to upskill within a particular job type or prepare working professionals for a career transition.
Master’s Degree in Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology
A master’s degree in audiology and speech-language pathology is a 1-2 year program conferred as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) depending on the program contents and curricular emphasis. Classes at the master’s degree level are designed to help students delve much deeper into the science and psychology of SLP and audiology disorders. Onside or online master’s degree-level classes in audiology and speech-pathology typically include classes such as: clinical phonology, language learning, diagnostic procedures, fluency disorders, vocal disorders, aphasia, alternative communication, communication disorder research, speech instrumentation, aural rehabilitation, language learning disorders, cognition, multicultural language disorders, and a SLP and audiology thesis.
Doctorate Degree in Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology
The doctorate degree in SLP and audiology is conferred as a PhD and is known as a terminal degree as no other degrees exist beyond the doctorate program. The PhD program in audiology and speech pathology is created to provide students with the tools and knowledge to perform research to advance the field or teach upper level courses in audiology and speech-language pathology.
Education and Schools
Individuals in this field will typically pursue a doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D), which is a graduate level program which typically takes four years to complete. Audiologists will be exposed to a variety of sciences and areas of study, as well as become familiar with medical problems that may affect hearing or speech in order to better identify and treat such ailment.
A curriculum may include:
- Hearing Problems
- Speech Pathology
As a graduate level program, individuals should seek out programs that allow for specific or targeted education that assists in licensure in the student’s desired state. This is important as such requirements may vary from state to state, and regulations governing the kind of care that may be provided may greatly vary. Some areas may require graduation through an accredited program, which should be taken into consideration when vetting which school one plans to attend.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Job growth is expected to increase greatly over the next decade at a rapid 29% clip versus the average composite job growth of 5-6%. Even though the growth will be high in terms of overall percentage, actual number of jobs added will be smaller due to the relatively small size of the field. Individuals will have greater access to healthcare over the coming decade, and combined with an aging population, should create the need for professionals who provide diagnosis, assistance and treatment over the next decade. The annual median income for an audiologist and speech-language pathologist is currently $75,980.
What Can You Do with an Audiology and Speech Pathology Degree?
There are a number of work settings and jobs to explore within the speech pathology and audiology degree track. Students earning a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree in SLP and audiology are equipped to launch a career independently or in a interdisciplinary team of healthcare providers working for or with teachers, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, physicians, occupational therapists, or rehabilitation counselors. A list of the top employers of audiologists and speech pathologists is listed below to help provide further information about each career segment.
Top Employers of Audiologists
- Physician’s Offices
- Health Practitioners Offices
- Medical and Surgical Hospitals
- Health & Personal Care Stores
- Public Schools
Top Employers of Speech Pathologists
- Public Schools
- Health Practitioners Offices
- Medical and Surgical Hospitals
- Nursing Care Facilities
- Home Health Care Centers
Top Job Titles of an Audiologist and Speech Pathologist
Given the sheer number of organizations employing speech-language pathologists and audiologists from around the country, there are a large number of job titles associated with each profession. We have culled a list of popular job titles below for audiology and speech language pathologists to help you better understand some commonly used terminology in the field.
Top Job Titles of Audiologists
- Audiology Director
- Hearing Care Practitioner
- Hearing Instrument Specialist
- Audiology Doctor (AUD) or Doctor of Audiology
- Clinical Audiologist
- Educational Audiologist
- Pediatric Audiologist
- Certified Hearing Instrument Dispenser
- Clinical Director
- Dispensing Audiologist
- Hearing Aid Consultant
- Senior Hearing Specialist
- Audio Prosthologist
Top Job Titles of a Speech Language Pathologist
- Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist
- Educational Speech-Language Clinician
- Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)
- Speech/Language Therapist
- Speech and Language Clinician
- Communication Specialist
- Speech and Language Specialist
- Speech Therapist
- Speech & Hearing Handicapped Teacher
Top Paying States for Audiologists
- New Mexico $112,140
- District of Columbia $105,250
- California $94,760
- North Dakota $93,240
- Illinois $91,830
Top Paying States for Speech Pathologists
- District of Columbia $92,190
- Connecticut $92,160
- California $88,870
- New York $88,510
- Alaska $88,390
The American Academy of Audiology is the largest professional organization for audiologists in the country, and works to provide protection and protect the interests of its members. For additional information about audiology and speech pathology, check out our Speech Pathology Career Guide on our blog.