Sections

Speech Pathologist Career Guide

Are you compassionate, empathetic and a strong communicator? Do you have a passion for helping others and improving their life?

If the answers yes, then a career in speech pathology may be the one for you!

A speech pathologist is someone who assesses, diagnoses, and rehabilitates speech and language disorders. They can work with people of all ages, from children who are just learning to speak, to the elderly who have experienced a stroke or other speech altering debilitations.

Employment of speech pathologists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. To become a speech pathologists, you will need to achieve at least a masters degree and pass a national examination in order to be licensed.

We impact lives. My gut tells me that this is why you chose to be a speech-language pathologist. You wanted to help others communicate and advocate for their wants and needs. You wanted to make a difference on a person’s daily needs. Your brain loves the sciences, and you get to use this skillset to help others.

phuonglienpalafox

Speech Pathologist Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Speech Pathologist Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Speech Pathologist field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33774 Speech-Language Pathologist Female 25 $45,000 Malden, MA 01/01/2010
33472 Speech-Language Pathologist Female 36 $65,000 Redondo Beach, CA 01/01/2010

Overview

What a speech pathologist actually does

A speech pathologist, or speech language pathologist (sometimes called speech therapists), is someone who assesses, diagnoses, and rehabilitates speech and language disorders. Speech pathologists can work with people of all ages, from children who are just learning to speak to the elderly who have experienced a stroke or other speech altering debilitations.

Most speech pathologists work in the health care industry, with many speech pathologists working in hospitals, clinics, or for government agencies. Some speech pathologists find careers in schools as well. Regardless of where speech pathologists work and what age range the work with, their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Evaluating levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty in a patient
  • Identifying treatment options
  • Creating and carrying out an individualized treatment plan that addresses specific functional needs
  • Teaching clients how to make sounds and improve their voices and maintain fluency
  • Helping individuals to improve their vocabulary and sentence structure
  • Helping patients to strengthen the muscles they use to swallow
  • Counselling patients and their families on how to cope with communication and swallowing disorders

Why they are needed

Speech pathologists are trained specifically to identify language-based learning disabilities and to implement techniques to help those who need it improve their speech. When speech pathologists work with young children, they are helping them to learn this techniques early on. This means that they can use them throughout their life and will continue on to be healthy, happy and successful. When they treat older patients, they are helping them gain their confidence again and to have a better quality of life!

Pros and cons of a career as a speech pathologist:

Pros:

  • A career as a speech pathologist offers incredibly high job satisfaction. This is because their work makes a huge differences to the lives of many
  • Theres lots of variety in the work of a speech pathologist
  • Speech pathologists get to meet new people every day. So, if you love working with all sorts of people then it is the perfect job for you
  • Speech pathologists are in high demand and there are plenty of opportunities to make good money
  • There is flexibility in the schedule of a speech pathologist as they can often schedule their own appointments
  • There are opportunities for this job all over the world
  • There are lots of career progression opportunities (e.g., speech pathologists can become specialists in certain areas or open their own clinics)

Cons:

  • To become fully qualified lots of studying is required
  • Being a speech pathologist is a physically demanding job as it often requires you to lift patients, to set up things and to stand up or kneel down for periods of time
  • It is an incredibly emotionally challenging career as speech pathologists work closely with the patient and their family and will witness their distress and worry
  • Patients may not progress as hoped, which can be hard
  • Speech pathologists may have to work long hours

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of speech pathologists is projected to grow 25 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

This demand for speech pathologists is expected because as the large baby-boom population grows older, there will be more instances of health conditions such as strokes or dementia, which can cause speech or language impairments. Speech-language pathologists will be needed to treat the increased number of speech and language disorders in the older population.

An increased awareness of speech and language disorders, such as stuttering, in younger children should lead to a need for more speech-language pathologists who specialize in treating that age group. Similarly, an increasing number of speech-language pathologists will be needed to work with children with autism to improve their ability to communicate and socialize effectively.

In addition, medical advances are improving the survival rate of premature infants and victims of trauma and strokes, many of whom will need help from speech-language pathologists to recover.

Career paths

To become a speech pathologist you will need a masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology or Communication Disorders and Sciences. During this time, you will learn about speech and language development, age-specific speech disorders, alternative communication methods and swallowing disorders. Masters degrees also include supervised clinical experience. The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA), part of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, accredits education programs in speech-language pathology. Graduation from an accredited program is required for certification and, often, for state licensure.

In order to get accepted onto a masters degree program you will need an undergraduate degree. Masters degrees do not necessarily require a specific degree, but many institutions have their own preference.

As well as a masters degree, speech pathologists must also obtain licensure and they must  gain hands-on experience through supervised clinical work, which is typically referred to as a fellowship. This training is a type of internship in that prospective speech-language pathologists apply and refine the skills learned during their academic program under the supervision of a certified speech-language pathologist. The CCC-SLP certification requires candidates to complete a fellowship lasting at least 36 weeks.

Example Job Titles for Speech Pathologist

Below is a list of common job titles in the Speech Pathologist field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a speech pathologist was $79,120 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,840 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $121,260.

The top paying industry was nursing and residential care facilities, where the median annual salary was $95,250. This is followed by hospitals, where median annual salary was $85,420. Next was offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists ($83,550) and then educational services ($70,290).

Autonomy and Flexibility

Like many jobs, the level of autonomy and flexibility for a speech pathologist depends on their level of experience and knowledge. Speech pathologists in their early career are likely to be supervised by more senior members of staff. This means that they are likely to have less control over their decisions and less flexibility over how they plan their day. As they get more senior and have more experience, speech pathologists will have greater control over the treatment they give and how they plan their day.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a speech pathologist, based on salary and total number of jobs available, were:

  1. West Virginia, where the average annual salary is $76,794
  2. Maine, where the average annual salary is $81,374
  3. New Hampshire, where the average annual salary is $75,609
  4. Connecticut, where the average annual salary is $76,257
  5. North Dakota, where the average annual salary is $72,470

The worst states for speech pathologists, according to Zippia, were Hawaii, Tennessee, Arkansas, Minnesota and Montana.

Work environment

38% of speech pathologists in the United States were employed by educational services. 23% were employed by office of physical, occupational and speech therapists and audiologists, 14% by hospitals, 5% by nursing and residential care facilities and 4% by self-employed workers.

Speech pathologists may work in one location (e.g., an office in a school or at a hospital), or they may travel between different locations (e.g., to different schools, care homes or hospitals). They may work closely with other medical professionals, such as occupational therapists or physicians.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Speech Pathologist careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Speech Pathologist career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Speech Pathologist.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

Speech pathologists are likely to be a Myers-Briggs INFP personality type. The INFP, otherwise known as the ‘Healer’, is empathetic, understanding, caring and compassionate. All of these are key qualities that speech pathologists need to help others with their speech related issues.

Accomplishment and mastery

As there is a lot of education required to become a speech pathologist, the sense of accomplishment and mastery is high when they qualify and get given responsibility and autonomy. On top of this, every single time a speech pathologist helps one of their patients, they will feel a huge sense of accomplishment and mastery.

Meaning and contribution

It is undoubtable that the work of a speech pathologist is highly meaningful and makes a massive contribution to the lives of many. Speech pathologists help people, old and young, to overcome their speech difficulties. Without the unique skills of speech pathologists, thousands of people would struggle with their confidence, with their communication and with their eating.

Life fit

Most speech pathologists will work full time. Some pathologists, such as those working for schools or outpatient hospitals, may need to travel between different schools or facilities. Overall, it is a career that should provide a reasonably good life fit.

Who will thrive in this career?

You will thrive as a speech pathologist if you get great satisfaction out of helping others, as improving the lives of others is at the forefront of what a speech pathologist does. To thrive, you must have natural communication skills and the ability to empathize with lots of different people. Those who have the ability to solve problems will also have an advantage, as speech pathologists will often have to help patients solve their problems and solve problems within the treatment plan.

Who will struggle in this career?

Firstly, fif you are not physically fit, you may struggle to keep up with the demands of job, which can involve lifting patients and/or standing up and kneeling down for periods of time. Those who are seeking a desk job that doesn’t involve interacting with or helping lots of people are likely to struggle as a speech pathologist. Similarly, those who prefer to work in the one place and not travel from job to job may struggle, especially if you can’t drive and will have to rely on public transport.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Speech pathologists will need skills and talents such as:

  • Problem solving skills, as speech pathologists will have to help clients solve the problems and they will need to solve problems in treatment programs
  • Critical-thinking skills, as speech pathologists must adjust their treatment plans as needed. They must be able to find alternative ways to help patients
  • Patience, as working with patients can be a slow and frustrating process. Sometimes, results will not be seen and there is no quick fix and patience is needed to keep working towards a goal
  • Compassion and empathy, as speech pathologists will work with patients who are frustrated by their difficulties and must be able to support and understand them
  • Communication skills, both written and verbal, as speech pathologists will need to communicate with patients and keep written documents up to date
  • Analytical skills, as speech pathologists must select the most appropriate diagnostic tool and analyze results to develop an appropriate treatment plan

Education

To become a speech pathologist you will need a masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology or Communication Disorders and Sciences. Graduation from an accredited program is required for certification and, often, for state licensure. Aspiring speech pathologists must also obtain licensure and hands-on experience through supervised clinical work, which is typically referred to as a fellowship.

Certifications

In all states, speech pathologists are regulated. In most states, speech pathologists are required to be licensed and all other states require registration. Licensure typically requires at least a master’s degree from an accredited program, supervised clinical experience, and passing an exam. For specific requirements, contact your state’s medical or health licensure board.

If speech pathologists want to progress and advance, they can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Certification typically satisfies some or all of the requirements for state licensure and may be required by some employers. To earn this certification, candidates must graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, and complete a fellowship under the supervision of a certified speech-language pathologist. To maintain the CCC-SLP credential, speech-language pathologists must complete 30 hours of continuing education every 3 years.

Speech-language pathologists who work in schools may need a specific teaching certification. For specific requirements, contact your state’s department of education or the private institution in which you are interested.

Speech pathologists may choose to earn specialty certifications in child language, fluency, or swallowing. Candidates who hold the CCC-SLP, meet work experience requirements, and pass a specialty certification exam may use the title Board Certified Specialist. Three organizations offer specialty certifications: American Board of Child Language and Language DisordersAmerican Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders, and American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders.

How to Become

Summary

A career in speech pathology is a career that involves passion, empathy and strong communication. A speech pathologist is someone who assesses, diagnoses, and rehabilitates speech and language disorders. They can work with people of all ages, from children who are just learning to speak to the elderly who have experienced a stroke or other speech altering debilitations.

Employment of speech pathologists is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. However, speech pathologists need to achieve at least a masters degree and then pass a national examination in order to be licensed.

Immediate action

To have the best chances of getting accepted onto a masters programme, you should aim to have experience working in a healthcare setting (or even better, a setting related to speech therapy). Therefore, you can immediately begin looking for voluntary places near you so you can begin to gain some invaluable experience.

Education and learning

Speech pathologists will need a bachelor’s degree in a related field. They then need to achieve a master’s degree in speech pathology or communication disorders and science, which should be accredited by the relevant body.

Skill development

Speech pathologists develop lots of their skills through their university education and through their supervised fieldwork. They will continue to develop their skills throughout their career as they get more experienced and knowledgeable.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Speech Pathologist careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33774 Speech-Language Pathologist Female 25 $45,000 Malden, MA 01/01/2010
33472 Speech-Language Pathologist Female 36 $65,000 Redondo Beach, CA 01/01/2010

Resources