Educational Requirements to Become a Speech Therapist

Speech therapists diagnose and treat speech and voice conditions and disorders. The therapist helps patients who have difficulty forming words or communicating because of speech impediments or an illness or injury. States may require licensure for speech therapists, which means the candidate must meet state standards for education to qualify.

  1. Masters Degree

    • A master’s degree is usually required to work as a speech therapist, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Students may also pursue a doctorate degree in speech pathology to work in the field. The courses in a master’s degree program include anatomy, physiology, acoustics, neurological speech disorders, child speech and language disorders in adults.

    Clinical Practicum

    • In addition to classroom education, the graduate degree program also includes clinical experience for the speech pathology student. Supervised clinical practice provides the student with hands on experience working with patients under the direction of a licensed and trained speech therapist.


    • Students may pursue a fellowship after completing a graduate degree program. The fellowship is paid training that allows candidates to work in the field to complete their education and gain experience. Certification as a speech therapist or pathologist may require the completion of post-graduate clinical training to qualify for the credential. For example, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association requires a 36-week fellowship to qualify for certification in Speech-Language Pathology.


    • Certification may not be necessary to work as a speech therapist, but it can enhance job opportunities and provide the candidate with a professional credential. Candidates for the Speech-Language-Pathology Certification offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association must have a minimum of a master’s degree to qualify. The degree program must include at least 75 hours in speech pathology courses. The program of study must also include at least 400 hours of clinical practice with at least 375 hours spent with patients. Applicants must also complete a 36-hour fellowship to qualify for certification. Candidates must submit transcripts to verify education, scores from the Praxis examination and verification of fellowship completion to qualify for certification.

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