Career Outlook for Speech-Language Pathologists
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are responsible for more than the evaluation and treatment of speech and language disorders. Individuals in this field also work with clients on swallowing rehabilitation, auditory and reading comprehension, communication and social skills, and alternative methods of communication.
Communication is central to human interaction and the field of speech-language pathology, which is projected to grow faster than the national average for all occupations in the next decade. 1
With regards to the SLP job outlook, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 25,900 new SLPs will be needed by 2026 — 18 percent more than the 145,100 SLPs in the United States in 2016. With this growing job market, many people may consider SLP careers where they’ll find meaningful work that is flexible to their needs and interests.
Salary Expectations of a Speech-Language Pathologist
The median SLP salary in 2017 was $76,610, up by more than 14 percent since 2010. Salaries vary by setting and geography and are commensurate with experience.
Median SLP Salaries by Setting2
- Nursing and residential care facilities: $93,110
- Offices of physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists: $83,800
- State, local, or private hospitals: $82,830
- State, local, or private educational services: $66,960
SLP Salaries by Geography
Salaries vary by geographic region and depend on the local average cost of living. The highest demand for SLPs tends to be in major metropolitan areas. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states with some of the highest average SLP salaries include Alaska, California, Connecticut, and New York.
Speech-Language Pathologist Salaries by State
|State||Median Salary (2017)|
|District of Columbia||$85,710|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Careers in Speech-Language Pathology
SLPs have the opportunity to work with diverse populations of clients across the lifespan and in a variety of environments. Settings for SLPs include public and private schools, health agencies, nursing facilities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and private practices.
More than half of SLPs work in educational settings3 such as Pre-K–12 public and private schools, colleges, and universities. SLPs who work in schools play an important role in helping children and families utilize special education services. They help students with social communication skills, language challenges such as stuttering and voice disorders, and swallowing disorders. There is an increased demand for SLPs who work with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder.
Other SLPs find that their interests are more suited to working in hospitals or in nursing or residential care facilities. As the US baby boomer population ages, more SLPs will be needed to help with conditions that cause speech, language, and swallowing issues. Many baby boomers who work as SLPs will also be retiring, thus creating job demand, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Some SLPs choose to work in the offices of physical or occupational therapists, or fellow SLPs, whereas others may choose to start their own private practice, take short-term assignments, or travel for their work.
How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist
If you’re interested in a career in speech-language pathology, it’s important to plan for the right education, clinical training, and licensure. You’ll need a master’s degree in speech-language pathology and should choose an ASHA-accredited program. Your master’s program will include academic and experiential coursework, and you’ll have to complete the required hours of supervised clinical experience, which includes clinical observation and direct contact with clients.
After you graduate from an accredited master’s program in speech-language pathology, you’ll often need to complete a supervised clinical fellowship and pass the Praxis exam in speech-language pathology before you complete your state’s requirements for licensure. If you want to work in a school setting, your state may also require a teaching certification. ASHA has more information about SLP licensure requirements in your state.
Citation for this content: Speech@NYU, NYU Steinhardt's online SLP degree