Should I get a major in speech-language pathology and audiology?

Do you desire to help people speak and hear well? Would you like to invest in someone’s health for the course of their lifetime? Do you have the gifts of patience, attention to detail and clear communication? If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider a degree in speech-language pathology and audiology! The SLPA program specializes in preparing students for careers as speech therapists or licensed audiologists.

What is the difference between speech-language pathology and audiology?

A speech-language pathologist also known as a speech therapist, assesses and treats people of all ages from infants through the elderly for a variety of issues concerning speech, language, voice, cognition and fluency as well as swallowing disorders. On the other hand, an audiologist evaluates and provides treatment for various hearing-related services. Audiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating a patient’s hearing and balance problems using advanced technology and procedures.

What skills will I develop?

An individual in the SLPA major will learn to recognize communication deficits in a wide variety of individuals throughout their lifespans. They will develop skills and learn the foundational information needed to be a therapist including how to assess, provide treatment and discharge patients. Students in this major will gain practical, hands-on experience which will provide valuable skills for various careers in this field.

What internship opportunities could I have?

There are plenty of opportunities outside of the classroom within this major. It is customary for the bulk of these opportunities to occur while in graduate school; however, there are opportunities to observe a variety of individuals to examine what preferences a student may have as they think about their upcoming career. Clinical hours provide a way for students to experience what working in a hospital setting is like while also gaining credit for their degree at the same time.

What careers could I have with this major?

There are a variety of patients that a license in speech-language pathology can allow you to treat. Speech-language pathologists work in schools, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes or in-home health. The majority of audiologists work in health care facilities, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices and audiology clinics, or in schools.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2021-2031 there will be a 21 percent growth rate in job openings for speech pathologists. For audiologists, it’s predicted that between 2021-2031 there will be a 10 percent growth rate in job openings.

How do I become a licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist?

Step one is to complete an SLPA undergraduate program. Next, an individual will apply to graduate school to complete a master’s degree. During graduate school, there will be in-depth externships and clinical rotations to get hands-on experience. As graduate school is completed, the individual will take an exam and then apply for a license to earn an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Credential.

Check out our blog: How do I declare a major?

At Bluffton University…

At Bluffton University, the SLPA major is an undergraduate course of study. Bluffton’s program is unique because we offer both in-classroom studies and clinical experience in the job field. With individualized advising, an exceptional small-scale learning environment and combined classroom and outside experience; an SLPA major from Bluffton University is a great first step toward becoming a licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist.

Schedule a campus tour today to discover more about Bluffton’s SPLA undergraduate program!

Written by Kaylee Rauch ’26, public relations student assistant and Tina Juarez, director of the SLPA program at Bluffton University