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What is any advice for becoming a Speech-language pathologist in Ontario?

What should I major in for undergrad that can also be a good degree on its own? What is this subject like? What are the Pros and Cons of this profession? What are some entry-level job salaries?

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Rose’s Answer

Hi there! My undergraduate degree was in communication disorders. When you get to your Masters you decide on audiology or speech therapy.

I have been in the field for 20 years and love it! I shadowed a family friend who was an SLP before I started my coursework and knew this was the right field for me.

It has afforded me flexibility as well. The pay is decent and it can be very family friendly- which was important for me. I now have my own practice www.abaspeech.org and this allows me to spend more time with my 3 kids and have the career I worked hard to get.

Cons are that there can be a lot of paperwork! I worked in the schools for 20 years which I loved but the paperwork can be daunting. I am. not sure what an entry level salary would be and this will vary greatly based on your location.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate this, thank you for the advice. Rhianna
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Briana’s Answer

Becoming a speech language pathologist (SLP) requires a Masters degree in order to be clinically certified. So that means going to a four-year undergraduate university, then applying for graduate school (which takes 2-3 years depending on your undergraduate degree). Many colleges offer an undergraduate degree in speech-language pathology or communication sciences and disorders. This is the fastest track towards moving into graduate school. However, you can also apply to graduate school for speech pathology with a related undergraduate degree such as Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Psychology, Psycholinguistics, Child Development, or Education. Just keep in mind that, should you have a different degree going into it, you may have to take some extra pre-requisite classes upon starting your graduate program, which can impact the overall cost and time it takes to get your graduate degree.

A typical SLP Master's program has these pre-requisite classes: hearing/acoustic science, speech anatomy, language development, aural/hearing rehab, phonetics, syntax, 1 biological science, 1 physical science, 1 social science, and statistics. And undergraduate degree in communication science and disorders should cover all these bases. I, for example, majored in Cognitive Science before going to graduate school, so I had to take some pre-requisite hearing and rehab courses.

Another pathway if graduate school is not a feasible option is becoming a speech language pathologist assistant (SLPA). You can do this by earning your Bachelors degree in communication sciences and disorders at a 4-year college, or by attending a 2-year community college or technical training program for SLPAs. Both of these options also include clinical observation and hands-on clinical hours in order to be certified.

When applying to undergraduate colleges, make sure to research if they have the major your prefer and what their "average" accepted student looks like in terms of GPA, test scores, extracurriculars etc. That way you can have an idea of the likelihood of being accepted. After graduating with your 4-year degree, most graduate schools require the GRE test in addition to a strong GPA and recommendation letters from your professors or other supervisors.

When in high school, it's a good idea to take AP courses that can lighten your college work load and count as credits toward your degree. Try to take classes that give you good foundational knowledge like statistics, biology, psychology, linguistics, and language courses. Since speech therapy is a patient-oriented health care job, doing things in high school that demonstrate strong communication skills and community engagement stand out. You can try: school newspaper, theater, tutoring, volunteering at nursing homes/hospitals/with children with developmental delays, Key Club/Kiwanis Club, chorus or choir.

Speech pathology is a very versatile career, so it's difficult to say any concrete stats on salaries and pros/cons. For example, the salary and pros/cons of being an SLP in an elementary school is going to be different than working in a hospital, or in outpatient rehab, or in a nursing home. Generally speaking, SLPs in medical environments have a higher salary than SLPs working in schools. If I were you, I'd try to determine what setting interests you the most, then you can research more specific salaries on places like Glassdoor.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for sharing your perspective. Rhianna
Thank you comment icon Thank you very much, this was super insightful! Rhianna
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