Stuttering, lisp, difficulty finding words – if you suffer from a speech disorder, even small talk can become a big problem. An estimated one million Germans are affected by a speech disorder.
The consequences are harder to quantify. What is certain is that many of those affected have difficulties making contacts. In the worst case, it comes to professional problems or social isolation. Fortunately, there are professionals who can help – speech therapists.
The work of a speech therapist is to diagnose and treat speech, voice and swallowing disorders . Most of her patients are children who have speech disorders or are lagging behind in their language development. But even adults sometimes need speech therapy if they have to learn to speak again after a stroke, for example.
Study instead of vocational training?
According to THEMBAPROGRAMS, speech therapy is a classic apprenticeship in Germany. Recently, however, there has also been the option of studying the subject at a university. Most courses, however, require vocational training as a speech therapist and offer part-time studies. A few universities offer a primary qualification course. After seven to eight semesters, you graduate with a full state license to become a speech therapist and a Bachelor of Science degree .
In the speech therapist training, the trainees first learn about the physical requirements for speaking . You will examine the vocal and speech organs and learn about the various diseases that can affect the throat, nose, larynx and the upper airways.
Course content in the bachelor’s degree
The contents of the study include the diagnosis of diseases and the various forms of therapy. Other subjects on the timetable are, for example, phonetics, voice training or speech training. The practical training takes place in clinics or speech therapy practices.
The study of speech therapy should contribute to the professionalization of the profession . There is also a higher proportion of biomedical content. These enable students to diagnose speech disorders even better. In addition, the basics of scientific work and empirical research are taught.
In addition, students have the opportunity to concentrate on a specific area of work during their studies, for example working with older people or children. Practical study phases prepare the students for their later professional life.
Focus in the master’s program
Those who decide to study have the option of adding a master’s to their bachelor’s degree. In the master’s degree, students can deepen the knowledge they have already acquired and specialize even further in a certain area of research or work. The main focus areas offered in the master’s degree are, for example, speech therapy or leadership and management.
Aspiring speech therapists should definitely have good own vocal qualities. In everyday working life, empathy, patience and contact skills are required. An interest in medical contexts , but also in subjects such as psychology or statistics, is required for the course. You should also have a good command of English, as most of the specialist literature is only available in English.
Career prospects after studying speech therapy
The most common place of work for a trained speech therapist is probably a speech therapy practice . Speech therapists are also employed in hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, facilities for the disabled and speech therapy kindergartens. After a few years of professional experience, many start their own speech therapy practice.
In addition to these classic areas of work, speech therapists are also active in other areas of language training. They advise parents or educators, for example, or train the voice and speaking flow of adults who work in so-called “speaking professions”.
Graduates in particular also have the opportunity to take on advisory activities at health insurance companies or industrial companies, or to work in management. Master’s graduates can also pursue an academic career, for example in university research and teaching.
Collect professional qualifications abroad
A degree enables speech therapists to work internationally. A good opportunity to prepare for it is one or more semesters abroad during your studies. Studying abroad is also worthwhile for everyone else. In other European countries, speech therapy has been academic for a long time.
As a result, speech therapists are much more often active in research and teaching and take on advisory activities. Students can benefit from the advanced professionalization of the subject and acquire valuable additional qualifications . In addition, foreign language skills are improved during a study visit abroad and intercultural skills are gained, which later employers will be happy to see.