A speech therapy assistant aids a licensed speech and language therapist or pathologist. The assistant works in the medical office with clients and also behind the scenes to take care of various jobs for the therapist. A speech therapy assistant aids in the production of treatment plans for patients, helps to improve patients’ vocal abilities, works with patients on pronunciation issues and assists with diagnosing speech language disorders. Speech therapy assistants are not, however, qualified to make a diagnosis on their own. Tasks that a speech therapist might assign an assistant include screening patients with tests for speech therapy, supervising prescribed treatment plans, monitoring patients’ progress and results, and documenting changes in patients’ speech patterns or reactions to treatment.
To work as a speech therapy assistant, a two-year associate’s degree will provide the necessary qualifications. The program must be approved by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Coursework will involve classes in general health field knowledge, biology and, of course, numerous speech classes that focus on audiology, pronunciation, enunciation, speech therapy techniques, and speech impediments and disorders. The classes are similar to those a speech therapist would take, but they are not quite as in-depth, which is why a two-year program provides the necessary certification. Some speech therapy assistants get a bachelor’s degree, which would include more general and liberal arts courses.
Therapy assistants often choose to go back to school to become speech therapists or pathologists. With the background from the two-year associate’s program, the speech therapy assistant already has a strong foundation for the skills necessary to advance to a therapist position. Additional training will involve a heavier focus on biology and anatomy so the therapist can make diagnoses and prescribe accurate treatments. While speech therapy assistants may choose to become a therapist for higher pay, assistants generally earn decent salaries with solid benefits, depending, of course, on career level and location. Benefits include life, medical, vision, dental, liability and disability insurance, a 401(k) plan, paid housing, relocation expenses and travel allowance.
Speech therapy jobs can be found on the Internet or with the help of speech therapy resources, such as recruiters who knows the assistant’s background and skills. A speech therapy assistant can find permanent, temporary, full-time or part-time work in doctors’ offices or hospitals worldwide. Jobs are available in adult speech therapy or pediatric speech therapy. The assistant should plan speech therapy activities on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of the impediment and the extent of the problem.