Why Become an SLP?

Speech-language pathology offers practitioners the opportunity to change lives by helping people overcome communication and swallowing challenges.

As a speech-language pathologist (SLP), you can treat clients across the life span in diverse ways, such as the following:

  • Helping a child with a speech sound disorder be understood by his classmates
  • Assisting a transgender woman to achieve her authentic voice
  • Working with a senior citizen to safely enjoy her favorite foods again

Take a closer look at this rewarding field, which also offers flexibility, a promising job outlook, and high job satisfaction1 as reported by practicing SLPs.

What Is Speech-Language Pathology?

Speech-language pathology is the practice of evaluating and treating speech, language, voice, and swallowing disorders.

The work of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) can have a transformative impact on the quality of life for clients in need. SLPs are trained to provide an array of services to people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds.

Prepare to Change Lives as an SLP

Take the next step toward becoming an SLP. Request information today about Speech@NYU, NYU Steinhardt’s online master’s in speech-language pathology program.

What Speech Pathologists Do

SLPs work with people across the life span with many types of conditions and needs, including the following:

  • Acquired conditions such as brain injuries and strokes
  • Congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy and cleft lip and palate
  • Developmental anomalies in speech and language
  • Speech differences in areas such as accent and transgender voice modification

Because swallowing and speech use the same musculature, SLPs are considered to be the preferred providers for both speech and swallowing disorders.2

Speech Pathologist Job Description

In speech pathology jobs, you may perform tasks such as the following:

  • Evaluate speech, language, or swallowing difficulty
  • Create treatment plans that address certain functional needs
  • Work with patients to develop and strengthen swallowing muscles
  • Help children and adults improve their oral and written language skills
  • Assist individuals in improving their voices and achieving fluent speech production

Types of Speech Pathologists

The wide range of services you’ll perform as an SLP gives you the flexibility to improve clients’ quality of life within many professional environments. Some SLPs work in private practice, but you can pursue opportunities in a variety of settings depending on your area of interest.

Educational Speech Pathologists

The majority of SLP jobs in education are in K–12 schools, according to data from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).3 SLPs in early childhood and educational settings may conduct early intervention, work with children who have disabilities, or collaborate with a team to develop customized learning plans for students.

Medical Speech Pathologists

SLPs in the medical field may work in hospitals, residential healthcare facilities, skilled nursing facilities, early intervention services, outpatient clinics, and rehabilitation centers. They diagnose and treat clients as part of multidisciplinary treatment teams and may provide services for individuals across the life span and areas of specialty.

Other Types of Speech Pathologists

Speech-language pathology jobs are available in many other settings, including research labs, government agencies, and teletherapy, in which SLPs deliver services online. SLPs may also choose to work in university settings, where they are responsible for influencing and educating future speech-language pathologists.

The specialized skill set of SLPs is at times sought by the corporate world, where they may also provide assessments, training, and consultative services as well as help employees improve their communication in areas such as public speaking, accents, and cross-cultural communication.

Advance in This Rewarding Field

Take the next step toward becoming an SLP. Request information today about Speech@NYU, NYU Steinhardt’s online master’s program in speech-language pathology.

Speech-Language Pathology vs. Audiology

Related to speech-language pathology jobs are careers in occupational therapy, school counseling, and audiology. While speech-language pathology and audiology are related fields that share a professional licensing organization, they differ in their focus.

Audiologists evaluate and rehabilitate people with hearing and balance disorders, while speech-language pathologists focus on communicative and swallowing disorders. SLPs receive some training in audiology to perform hearing screenings and evaluations to determine the impact of clients’ hearing skills on communication and make appropriate referrals when needed.

How to Become an ASHA-Certified Speech Pathologist

Licensure requirements for SLPs vary by state, but to become a speech-language pathologist, a master's degree in the field is typically required.4

To obtain ASHA certification as a speech-language pathologist, you are required to complete the following:5

  1. Earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from an accredited university.
  2. During your master’s program, complete a minimum 400 hours of supervised clinical experience, including 25 hours of clinical observation and 375 hours of direct client contact.
  3. After graduating, complete a supervised Clinical Fellowship of at least 36 weeks.
  4. Take and pass the Praxis exam in speech-language pathology.
  5. Apply for ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence, an internationally recognized credential that helps you to stay current in the field by engaging in continuous professional development.

The Clinical Fellowship (CF) is a mentored professional experience that must be completed before a graduate can practice independently.6 The CF experience is typically completed in 36 weeks of full-time employment, but it can be completed part time by working a minimum of five hours per week until equivalent hours are met.

State licensure is required for practice. Requirements vary by state but typically do not exceed ASHA’s minimum requirements.

ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology

ASHA certification as an SLP means that you have completed their requirements and earned the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). This nationally recognized professional credential indicates that you have met rigorous academic and professional standards that may exceed the minimum requirements for state licensure.

Speech-language pathology is constantly evolving, and SLPs must be lifelong learners. Continuing education is required by both ASHA and some state licensing boards to maintain certification, ensuring that practitioners are staying up to date with advances in the field and taking an evidence-based approach to care.

Several English-speaking countries participate alongside the United States in the Mutual Recognition Agreement with ASHA, making it possible for ASHA-certified SLPs to obtain equivalent licensure to work in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.7

Take the Next Step toward Becoming an SLP

Speech@NYU, NYU Steinhardt’s online master of science program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, offers dedicated academic and clinical support services to help you prepare for licensure as an SLP.

The online modality of the master’s program is accredited by ASHA’s Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA). Request information today to learn more about Speech@NYU.

Speech Pathology Job Outlook

Due to an aging baby boomer population and increased awareness of childhood speech and swallowing disorders, the number of Americans requiring speech-language pathology services is expected to increase in the coming years. As such, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand and job outlook for careers in speech pathology will also rise.8

171,000

Projected SLP employment in 2026

18%

Expected growth in US jobs for SLPs between 2016 and 2026

Median Salary for a Speech Pathologist

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2018 median salary for practitioners in speech pathology jobs was $77,510. SLPs who worked in nursing or residential facilities received an even higher average salary of $94,680.9

Speech Pathologist Job Satisfaction

A career in speech-language pathology has been shown to be a fulfilling path, and the majority of ASHA-certified SLPs who participated in ASHA’s 2015 Work-Life Survey reported a high level of satisfaction in their careers.10

89.2%

of SLPs were satisfied or very satisfied with their career choice regardless of career setting.

89.7%

of SLPs who worked in school settings were satisfied or very satisfied.

86.6%

of SLPs who worked in hospital settings were satisfied or very satisfied.

Many SLPs take advantage of the variety and flexibility the field of speech-language pathology offers, working in multiple settings over the course of their careers.

Is Speech-Language Pathology Right for You?

Speech-language pathology could be a fit for you if you want to spend your career helping others while continually advancing your knowledge and skills. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to treat a diverse range of clients facing a variety of disorders?
  • Are you comfortable working with people one on one and in small-group settings?
  • Does the thought of collaborating with physicians, social workers, occupational therapists, special educators, and other healthcare workers appeal to you?
  • Would you like to have the flexibility to work in a variety of professional settings throughout your career, including schools, hospitals, treatment facilities, nursing homes, and private practices?

Change Lives as an SLP

Request information today about NYU Steinhardt’s online master’s in speech-language pathology program.

1 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2015 Work life survey. CCC-SLP survey summary report: Number and type of responses (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
3 American Speech-Language Hearing Association, “Employment Settings for SLPs” (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
4 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Speech-Language Pathologists, How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
5 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Apply for Certification in Speech-Language Pathology” (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
6 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “A Guide to the ASHA Clinical Fellowship Experience” (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
7 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)” (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
8 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Speech-Language Pathologists, Job Outlook (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
9 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Speech-Language Pathologists, Pay (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference
10 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2015 Work life survey. CCC-SLP survey summary report: Number and type of responses, (accessed May 2, 2019) Return to footnote reference