Speech therapy represents a growing career field. Speech therapists, also called speech language pathologists, work with both children and adults. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field will grow by 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. Speech therapists earned an average annual wage of $73,970 as of May of 2013, according to the BLS. If you are pursuing this career path, use the job interview as a window into the daily work life with that employer. Speech therapists work in schools, hospitals, nursing facilities and private practices.
Understanding the Clients
Ask what type of clients the clinic or practice serves, including age, economic background and culture. Speech therapists work with a variety of clients and it helps to understand the background of the people with whom you will work. Young clients include children who are struggling to make certain sounds or who have problems such as stuttering. Older clients include adults who’ve suffered a stroke or brain injury and have difficulty swallowing or need to relearn how to talk. Clients from different economic backgrounds may have access to different resources to assist with treatment. Various cultural backgrounds may impact the individual’s familiarity with various sounds.
Planning and Preparation
Ask how much planning time is allotted for each client and whether the employer allows additional planning time for clients who require more intense speech therapy. Also ask what type of resources the organization provides for use in each session. You will need to plan your sessions prior to meeting with each client. This allows you to make the best use of your time with each client. Some employers will pay the therapist for this planning time and provide a variety of tools to use in each session.
Ask if the employer provides time to complete paperwork, whether it requires documentation from the therapist and if administrative support is available. For many speech therapists, paperwork is a necessary part of the job. You will need to make notes on your sessions for several reasons. You refer to these notes to track the progress of each client, to provide evaluations for the client or the client’s parents and to bill insurance companies. The level of paperwork required by the therapist varies from office to office.
Size of Caseload
Ask your interviewer what size caseload you would be expected to carry and whether the practice turns away clients if the caseload reaches a maximum level. Each provider serves a different number of clients. Some clinics limit the number of clients they see based on their therapists' schedules. Other clinics accept any client seeking help. When the clinic works with anyone requesting speech therapy, the caseload for each therapist increases. This leads to longer workdays for the therapist.
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