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Make a difference by becoming a speech language pathology paraprofessional

By   Sarah Dixon Young

Speech and language pathologists help clients overcome communication difficulties, but they don’t do it alone.

Speech and language pathology paraprofessionals work with children ages three on up in a school-based setting, performing tasks that help the pathologist and child so that clear communication can be achieved. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that 42% of school based speech and language pathologists utilize a paraprofessional to assist them with their caseloads.

Lake Region State College partners with Williston State College to offer this exciting program to students in four semesters and one summer session. LRSC and WSC also work closely with the Department of Public Instruction's Special Education Unit and local education units for this program. Each spring, a limited number of students are accepted into the program which leads to the student obtaining a Speech Language Pathology Paraprofessional certificate in the state of North Dakota.

On the job, these paraprofessionals can expect to perform tasks prescribed, directed, and supervised by ASHA-certified speech and language pathologists. While the lead pathologist develops treatment plans for clients, the paraprofessional can execute specific tasks to help the client meet his or her goals.

At LRSC, one of the most enticing benefits of the Speech and Language Pathology Paraprofessional program is the online availability. All courses can be completed online, allowing students to participate from anywhere at any time. Only the field work portion must be done in person.

Students who excel in communication and observation, enjoy working with children, and are good at following directions would be excellent matches for this program.

In addition, having the two-year Associate in Applied Sciences degree gives an advantage to students who would like to pursue a higher level degree in Speech and Language Pathology.

Many speech language pathologists seek out their paraprofessional counterparts in order to expand their reach and practice. According to ASHA, these paraprofessionals would benefit their practice because pathologists would then “extend services (i.e., increase the frequency and intensity of services to patients or clients on his/her caseload), focus more on professional-level tasks, increase client access to the program, and achieve more efficient/effective use of time and resources.”

In the state of North Dakota alone, the demand for speech and language pathologists and paraprofessionals will increase 4% by 2018, according to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Students in this program can also receive financial support through funding from the Department of Public Instruction.

Tuition and fees for some courses can be paid for by a special grant from DPI who live in North Dakota and who have the support of a Special Education Unit.

A list of requirements and prerequisites can be found at