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Speech Technician


Description

Most people take speaking for granted. For most people speaking is as natural as breathing, it is something they just do. However, there are people for whom speaking is difficult and they need the help of professionals such as speech technicians to help them learn to speak properly. Speech technicians, work directly under the supervision of a licensed speech therapist to help individuals overcome and prevent communication problems in language, speech, voice, and fluency. These difficulties may be caused by accidents, genetic disorders such as cleft palate, or by delayed development.

Someone who has recently suffered a stroke or major trauma may have lost the ability to speak. People with stutters, lisps, slurs and learning disabilities often see speech therapists and technicians, as well as those with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or swallowing disorders. A speech technician is trained to assist these people overcome speech disorders through various therapeutic methods. They are responsible for organizing and implementing a therapy program designed by a speech-language pathologist to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing people. It is important to distinguish, however, that they are not qualified to diagnose conditions or prescribe treatments, like their supervisors.

Treatments for developmental or medical conditions may involve a variety of activities, and depends upon special individual needs. Sign language and automated devices are two of the many methods they employ. Other methods include books, pictures, toys, sound analyzers or multimedia computer programs.

Some speech technicians work with people who have heavy accents, who are trying to adapt to a new society or country. There are also a few who work with actors, singers and broadcasters to work on accentuation, enunciation and proper pronunciation. Speech technicians may also specialize in working with people who have a particular type of disorder (e.g. stuttering), or in working with a particular age group (e.g. pre-schoolers). They always work under supervision and provide any type of assistance where possible.

While speech technicians help people of all ages, the pre-school years are the most critical for speech and language development. Many people flock to this career not only because of the direct patient care, but because they get to work with children. Therefore, if helping children is something that interests you, than this could be an excellent way to help kids learn how to speak properly.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Speech technicians must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with patience and sensitivity to their patient's needs. They must have good concentration skills and be able to pay close attention to details. They are trained in assisting therapists of hearing disabilities therefore they enjoy employing and teaching ear-damage prevention methods. Finally, they enjoy working in a team environment and helping families and individuals improve their speech.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Perform hearing and speech support functions to provide care, treatment and training for primarily the mentally ill and patients with communication disabilities
  • Assist in development of program materials and techniques for carrying out speech, language and hearing therapy
  • Assist hearing and speech specialists in routine hearing screening tests and follow-up testing
  • Assist and train clients in the use of electronic and non-electronic alternative communication systems
  • Operate and calibrate hearing and speech equipment
  • Prepare evaluation and therapy equipment for use
  • Carry out lesson plans for improving expressive communication and receptive language abilities, self-awareness and increasing attention span
  • Conduct basic group language development or speech improvement classes
  • Assist specialists in planning and designing programs formulated to meet development and treatment needs
  • Participate in differential diagnostic evaluations of incoming and current patients
  • Maintain routine records and progress reports
  • Continually update knowledge and develop on-the-job training to develop and increase skills and knowledge, including reading publications, magazines, books and journals concerning the audiology and speech pathology fields
  • Speech technicians generally work about eight hours per day. Those working in private practices generally tend to have more flexibility in their schedules, however may also work evenings and weekends to accommodate their patients' schedules. In clinics, they work in offices and treatment rooms. Technicians work on a contract basis may be required to travel between the various locations they work, such as day care centers, hospitals, and schools.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Speech technicians work in speech pathology and audiology private practices, hospitals, schools, and community care centers. They are also employed in universities and government agencies, or in an administrative role in speech and hearing programs.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for speech technicians? Those who work in larger practices or hospitals can move into supervisory or management positions with experience. Otherwise, with additional training and education, they can become speech therapists or language pathologists. Speech technicians may also decide to switch to other types of therapy assistant positions such as music therapy or alternative rehabilitation practices.
 

  Educational Paths  
The majority of speech technicians have a bachelor's degree in linguistics, speech therapy or a related field. Otherwise, speech technicians may attend a speech technician program at a community college and learn through hands-on training. It is also a good idea for individuals to volunteer at a hospital or clinic to see if this is the type of work that they will like doing for their career. They may also choose to take a sign language course in school as many patients they will work with are deaf. Speech technicians will both teach sign language to children and communicate with patients using the hands.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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