How to Continue My Speech Therapy Education in Arkansas
If you're like many other Arkansas residents interesting in pursuing a career as a speech therapist, then you may have obtained only your associate's or bachelor's degree thinking that you could succeed in the field with this minimal level of education. The hard truth that you and many others have likely already learned is that you cannot actually work as a speech therapist without a higher level of education. Fortunately, if you've already had some higher education, then you won't be starting from scratch and you won't have quite as far to go as a person just developing an interest in the field.
First, let's take a look at the level of education you currently possess. If you have an associate's degree, typically earned from a community college and completed in approximately two years, your next step is to obtain a related bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The good news is that credits earned while pursuing an associate's degree are designed to be transferred, so it is particularly easy to transfer your credits to an undergraduate program after being accepted. That way, you can earn your bachelor's degree in two years or less, depending on the prior courses you have taken and the educational requirements of your learning institution.
If you already have your bachelor's degree, then you are extremely close to working as a speech therapist in Arkansas; it's just necessary that you take a few more important steps in the right direction. First and foremost, you'll need to enroll in a master's degree program in a related subject. As a side note, you can pursue a master's degree in the field even if your undergraduate degree is not related to speech therapy, which makes it possible for those from diverse backgrounds and/or who developed an interest in the field later in life to start working as speech therapists more quickly. Spend some time finding the right master's level program. You'll want to find one that offers you internship opportunities and licensure guidance and help every step of the way. The program should also be fully accredited and should have a reputation of turning out successful speech therapists who enjoy long, successful careers in the field. Master's degree programs typically take anywhere from one to three years to complete, but this will vary depending upon your program and institution.
Once you've got your education, all that is left is to seek licensure in the field. In Arkansas, this is done by completing several supervised experiential learning and working hours and by passing a national examination. This process can take a while to complete but once you have done it, you'll be able to begin working as a real, licensed speech therapist and living your career dreams. Obviously, the path toward becoming a speech therapist isn't an easy one, but most professionals in the field feel the hard work and dedication they put in is well worth it in the end.