Continuing Education is Key to Career Versatility and Longevity in This Field

If you’re an SLP  grad student, it’s likely that one of your communication science textbooks was authored in part by Dr. Paul Fogle. With more than 40 years in the field and textbooks including Foundations of Communication Sciences and DisordersCounseling Skills for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists; and Essentials of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 2nd Edition to his credit, not to mention a forensic SLP consultancy business, you could say Dr. Fogle is the ultimate authority on career longevity and versatility in the SLP field.

We recently sat down for a conversation with Dr. Fogle. He had a lot to say about what it takes to keep things interesting and stick it out for the long haul in this field. One of the recurring themes in our conversation was career versatility and how the SLP field lends itself so well to making unique contributions and working with diverse patient groups.

The field is truly interdisciplinary in nature, involving an understanding of everything from special education and learning disorders to anatomy and physiology to neuroscience and psychology. This gives you the freedom to move with relative ease from one area of focus to another. In some cases, being qualified to work in a different setting or an all new specialty is just a matter of completing some continuing education courses through a university extension program.

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Case Study of a Long and Diverse Career in Speech-Language Pathology

After completing his master’s program in the early 1970’s, Dr. Fogle worked for the Los Angeles Office of Education at a facility for adolescents with neurological disorders. But that wasn’t all he was doing.

“During that time I was doing a lot of extra things to learn as much as I could. I was training at UCLA with adult stutterers, and I also worked on Wednesday afternoons at Los Amigos hospital in Los Angeles doing human brain autopsies.”

With these experiences to draw from, he eventually went back to school for his PhD and specialized in stuttering as well as neurological disorders in adults and children. He also studied marriage-family-child counseling, counseling psychology, educational counseling, and clinical psychology.

Using this education and experience as a springboard, he eventually went on to work in acute, sub-acute, and convalescent hospitals, start his own practice, teach at the university level, and serve as an expert forensic SLP witness on medico-legal cases.

While he cautions that working as an expert witness is a very niche role, his career’s trajectory demonstrates the range of versatility that speech language pathologists can experience. In just his first two years Dr. Fogle was doing autopsies on brains, working with kids with gunshot wounds, and providing his services for clients whose disorders were not fully understood at the time.

And that is saying nothing about the countries his SLP career has taken him to. Through work missions, conferences, presentations, and stints as a guest lecturer, Dr. Fogle has visited Egypt, Singapore, India, Venezuela, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and Romania, to name a few.

Getting the Education You Need to Take Your Career to New Heights

Experience plus more education equals more career opportunities. As Dr. Fogle explains…

“We do work in quite a variety of areas, and what is nice is that we can change. Many therapists start off working in the schools and decide they want to work in a hospital. Then they go back and get some more training, brush up on some things, do some continuing education courses, and go into hospitals.”

The nice thing about this field is that the opportunity for more education is never far away.  In fact, it’s fundamental to the SLP profession.

Just to maintain your state license and CCC-SLP through ASHA, you’re going to need to meet regular continuing education requirements. And if you decide to go back to school and complete courses in a new niche, you’re not only opening up opportunities for diversifying your career, you’re also fulfilling those CE requirements.

Continuing education also comes in the form of workshops, conferences, and professional development courses where you could learn more about…

  • Autism and developmental disorders
  • Fluency
  • Cochlear implants and auditory processing
  • Neurogenic speech and language
  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Language and literacy
  • Multicultural issues

According to ASHA, there are more than 300 schools throughout the country offering graduate certificates, master’s degrees and doctorates where you can explore these and many other specialty areas, along with emerging therapies and new SLP technology.

Real Examples of Career Versatility Through Education

It’s one thing to talk about how speech language pathologists already have a wide range of professional options, or how they can access even more with some additional education and experience. It’s quite another to look at real concrete examples.

We combed through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) jobs posting webpage to find a sampling of career opportunities and their prerequisites.

Naturally, they all require a master’s degree, state licensure, and in some cases ASHA specialty certification. Any additional requirements are noted…

  • Speech Language Pathologist at a human services agency in Boston
  • Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist at a children’s center in Springfield, Virginia
  • Speech Language Pathologist at a pediatric clinic in Colorado Springs
  • Speech Language Pathologist at a public school in Phoenix
  • Speech Language Pathologist at a rehabilitation center and school in Greenfield, New Hampshire
  • Associate Dean of a College of Health Professions in Mount Pleasant, Michigan – also requires a doctorate degree in an SLP field and prior experience as a professor
  • Speech Language Pathologist at an institute for deaf persons in Rochester, New York – also requires proficiency in sign language or the willingness to learn
  • College Instructor in Communication Sciences and Disorders in Sarasota, Florida – also requires experience teaching at the college level
  • Assistant Professor in Speech Language Pathology in Los Angeles – also requires a doctorate in SLP

If you want to travel the world on your SLP credentials, ASHA also lists international opportunities…

  • Speech Language Pathologist in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – also requires experience working with autism
  • Speech Language Pathologist at a pre-K-12 school in Moscow, Russia – also requires experience working with children with sensory integration needs
  • Rehabilitation Manager in Innsbruck, Austria – also requires clinical experience with children who have hearing loss; this position only requires a bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist with a home-based early intervention program in Okinawa, Japan – also requires two years of experience working with infants and children up to two years old

Take it from Dr. Fogle, a man whose knowledge of SLP has allowed him to see the world and achieve an unparalleled level of success and notoriety in the field: Whatever your area of interest, dig in with tenacity and distinguish yourself as an expert – the success you can achieve runs parallel to what you can learn.