Choosing Between Speech Pathology Or Occupational Therapy As a Career

Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy are rewarding and challenging careers that involve helping people with a limiting physical condition. Both careers focus on helping people overcome life challenges so they can adjust and live a productive life.

When considering a career in either speech pathology or occupational therapy, most people will make a choice based on their own personal goals and desires. Speech language pathology is the evaluation and treatment of speech and language disorders. Speech pathologists help individuals who have physical disabilities associated with speech such as difficulty in pronouncing words, hearing impairments, voice disorders, cognitive communication impairments, memory and problem solving disorders, and swallowing difficulties.  A speech therapist will work with people who have difficulty speaking, forming words or sounds, or who are recuperating from an injury or illness that has affected their ability to speak. Speech disorders can result from a number of conditions such as delayed development, a genetic disorder, an accident, or a medical condition such as a stroke. Although they are involved with helping adults, many speech pathologists tend to focus on children because early childhood is an important time for speech and language development. Those who want to specialize in helping children will often choose speech pathology as a career.

Many people choose speech pathology due to a number of specialized areas one can pursue. These areas can include disorders in fluency, neurogenic speech and language, language development, articulation, alternative communication, and swallowing. They employ a wide variety of assessment plans, diagnostic techniques, and treatment procedures. For those interested in research and development, speech language pathologists can specialize in seeking an understanding of the causes of a speech disorder and develop effective methods for evaluation and treatment of the condition.

One will often choose a career as an Occupational Therapist because they have a genuine interest in enabling people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapy is a career that focuses on activities regarding daily living. Their job is to help people with impairments to adapt and function in everyday life activities.  They help individuals with developmental, emotional, physical, and mental disabilities. The goal is to improve functioning and wellness. Functioning tasks can include such actions as meal preparation, showering and dressing, managing money, and implementing their daily routine. They will also help them function better in the workplace. Areas focused on include memory, cognition and perception and motor skills.

Occupational therapists assist patients with achieving their set goals by improving their ability to participate in daily routines, modifying the environment to help them function better, and adapting an activity to better support their needs. They work with individuals, children, families, groups and the community to facilitate health and well-being by establishing or re-establishing their previous occupation. As well, Occupational Therapists are becoming increasingly more involved in tackling the impact of social and environmental factors that affect a person’s ability to return to their previous occupation.  

Occupational Therapists focus helping patients return to their previous occupation, while speech pathology focuses on the specific area of communication disorders. Both professions are in great demand and provide a valuable service to the community and health profession. Whichever one you pick, you are sure to have a rewarding career.