In order to get a speech pathology degree, it will be necessary to attend a college or university that offers a speech pathology program. People who plan to practice as speech pathologists should be aware that they may also be required to pass certification exams that will qualify them to offer services to patients. Specific requirements for clinical practice vary between nations and individual regions within nations, and people interested in speech pathology careers should find out what the requirements for practice are where they plan to work before pursuing a degree, so that they select an appropriate program and method of preparation.
In order to become a speech pathologist, it is usually necessary to have a master's degree in speech pathology. To reach this educational level, students will first need to get a bachelor's degree in this or a related field, such as audiology, physiology, or biology. Many universities which have master's programs in speech pathology also offer undergraduate degrees; students should check on the prerequisites for master's programs that they are interested in so that they can take the appropriate classes while they get a degree at the undergraduate level.
While taking classes as an undergraduate, someone on track for a career in speech pathology might want to consider getting a clinical internship to work with a a professional in the field. In addition to providing work experience and giving the student an idea of what the work might be like, an internship can bolster an application to graduate school for a master's degree. Master's programs can be highly competitive, so getting the edge on applications definitely helps students will get into the programs they want.
Typical training for undergraduates includes basic anatomy and physiology, along with specific explorations into conditions that cause difficulty with speaking or swallowing. A graduate degree will provide students with more in-depth information about speech pathology, possible treatments for various conditions, medical ethics involved in the practice of speech pathology, and so forth. Students should seek out a speech pathology degree from an institution accredited by a professional organization of speech pathologists, as this will facilitate certification.
After someone has graduated with a speech pathology degree, he or she can pursue professional certification to practice, along with membership in professional organizations. Working speech pathologists should plan on attending continuing education programs throughout their careers to keep up with advances in the field. They may also want to consider getting additional training so that they an achieve board recognition in a specific area of interest, such as pediatric speech pathology or stroke recovery.