Are you wondering what careers are available with a Master’s degree in communicative disorders? This graduate-level degree trains students to diagnose and treat people whose ability to communicate is impaired by speech and hearing difficulties. As Forbes points out, the growing needs of an aging population are creating increasing demands for health professionals, including those in the hot field of communicative disorders. Graduates have many career opportunities, allowing them to work in a wide variety of settings with a broad range of patients.

Speech Pathologists

Speech pathologists work with patients of all ages to diagnose and treat language, speech, voice, cognitive, communication, fluency, swallowing and other similar disorders. They work in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and private practices to treat people who have difficulties producing clear speech or understanding language. They even work with those suffering cognitive communication impairments caused by memory, attention or problem solving difficulties. Patients whose ability to communicate has been damaged by cancer, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease generally benefit from the care of speech pathologists.

Special Education Teachers

With the growing awareness of the importance of early intervention and the legal obligations to provide for special education needs, many school systems hire speech pathologists to work as special education teachers. Special education teachers help children with disorders caused by issues like injury, cerebral palsy or autism learn to communicate more clearly. They help write Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) for students with speech problems, and train teachers in methods for helping these students. They also conduct diagnostic evaluations and screenings for the school system and teach listening, speaking, and learning strategies in regular classrooms. Because of the high demand for special education teachers trained in speech pathology, some school systems are now paying for teachers to earn their Master’s degrees in communicative disorders.

Speech Therapists

Speech therapists work with people who can’t make clear speech sounds, people with fluency and rhythm problems like stuttering, and people who have oral motor problems. After diagnosing the reason for a patient’s issue, a speech therapist uses special exercises to retrain and strengthen the muscles needed for articulation and pronunciation. Positions for speech therapists can be found in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and schools.

Private Practitioners

Some communicative disorders professionals choose to establish independent practices. Serving as clinicians, therapists and consultants, they often establish long-term relationships with their patients as they work with them to overcome their speech difficulties. This option appeals both to those who prefer the freedom of being their own boss and those who value a continuing connection with their patients.

Audiologists

After completing their Master’s degree in communicative disorders, students willing to continue their education at the doctorate level can pursue Doctor of Audiology degrees. As audiologists, they are trained to diagnosis and treat hearing and balance disorders in patients ranging from infants to elderly adults. Audiologists can work in hospitals, establish private practices or consult for industries or government agencies.

Since roughly ten percent of people have some symptom of a communicative disorder, the demand for skilled professionals capable of diagnosing and treating speech and hearing problems is growing rapidly. If you have been curious about what careers are available with a Master’s degree in communicative disorders, investigate the wide range of professional options available to decide which best fits you. For further reading about Master’s degrees and schools which offer higher education, take a look at 50 Most Elegant Graduate School Buildings in the World.