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About the Profession
Speech-Language Pathologists are in high demand!
Speech-Language Pathology is a rapidly growing field. The increased recognition of communication problems in preschool and school-aged children, medical advances in saving the lives of those individuals with congenital and acquired disabilities, and the increasing population of older citizens has created a growing need for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ranks speech-language pathology among the top 30 (of 700) fastest growing occupations over the next decade. The BLS also reports that the national employment rate of SLPs is expected to demonstrate average growth(i.e., reflecting an increase of 7% to 13% through the year 2016. It is predicted that 12,000 additional SLPs will be needed to fill the demand between 2006 and 2016 - and 11% increase in job openings. Furthermore, according to the BLS, occupational projection estimates for 2004 to 2014 ranked speech-language pathology 17th out of the 20 large-growth occupations that usually require a master's, doctoral, or first-professional degree.
In ASHA's 2008 Schools Survey, the majority of respondents(72%) reported that job openings for SLPs in their type of employment facility and geographic area were more numerous that job seekers. Likewise, in ASHA's 2009 Health Care Survey, 47% of respondents reported that job openings were more numerous than job seekers and 26% reported they had funded, unfilled positions.
What is the job of a Speech-Language Pathologist?
Speech-language pathologists help individuals of all ages to develop communication skills by treating disorders of speech, language, voice, and swallowing. Speech-language pathologists provide services that include prevention, identification, assessment, and treatment of disorders, such as:
- Language Disorders - difficulty comprehending and/or expressing language, which may be developmental or may result from a stroke or other brain injury
- Stuttering - difficulty producing speech smoothly; affects individuals of all ages
- Articulation Disorders - difficulty producing speech sounds correctly
- Voice Disorders - difficulty with vocal quality, which can result from illness, injury or vocal behaviors such as yelling
- Swallowing Disorders - difficulty swallowing, which can result from stroke, brain injury, illness, or surgery
What is the average salary for a speech-language pathologist?
ASHA reported in their 2009 Health Care Survey that the median annual salary for SLPs working in health care facilities was $70,000. In ASHA's 2008 Schools Survey, the median salary for SLPs working 11-12 months was $65,000 while the salaries for those working 9-10 months averaged $57,000.
Entry-level requirements for employment as a speech-language pathologist include a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology, also called Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Many individuals who apply to graduate school in Communication Sciences and Disorders have an undergraduate degree in this field. However, others have an out-of-discipline bachelor's degree but not the necessary pre-requisite coursework in Communication Sciences and Disorders. The courses in the Longwood Online Speech-Language Pathology Pre-Requisites Program are designed for these individuals who want to apply to graduate school but need the pre-requisite coursework.
Other necessary coursework includes courses in Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics. These courses are usually taken during undergraduate preparation, and individuals with bachelor's degrees in a variety of disciplines frequently have already taken these courses.
Clinical education is a large component of the graduate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders. ASHA requires that students complete 400 clinical clock hours of practicum experience, which includes 25 hours of observation.
In order to obtain the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), individuals must pass the national exam and complete a Clinical Fellowship (CF) during their first employment after graduate school. The CF offers the new speech-language pathologist the opportunity to be mentored by an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist during the first year of employment.
Learn the benefits of ASHA certification at ASHA.
What is ASHA?
The American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 140,000 members and affiliates who are speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists in the USA and internationally.
Learn More At: American Speech-Language Hearing Association
Additional Services Provided by Speech-Language Pathologists
- Teaching individuals who cannot speak to use augmentative communication systems
- Providing accent reduction therapy to professionals in a variety of corporate and entertainment occupations
- Developing new treatment strategies
- Engaging in research to expand the knowledge base in the discipline
- Preparing future professionals
Speech-Language Pathologists Work in a Variety of Settings
- Public Schools: The greatest number of speech-language pathologists work in public schools. A significant shortage of speech-language pathologists has existed in Virginia public schools for a number of years, with rural school divisions facing the greatest difficulty in securing licensed professionals to fill these positions. School speech-language pathologists collaborate with teachers and parents to provide services to toddlers, children, and adolescents. Speech-language pathologists play a critical role in facilitating children's communication and literacy skills.
- Health Care facilities: Health care facilities include the following: general medical hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, pediatric hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home-health agencies. Speech-language pathologists provide in-patient acute care and out-patient rehabilitation services to a wide range of patients, such as individuals who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury, individuals with swallowing difficulties, and many others.
- Clinics and Private Practice: Once a speech-language pathologist has earned the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), he or she may open a private practice to provide services to individuals with all types of communication and/or swallowing disorders or can specialize in a particular population or type of disorder. Clinics offering these services often hire new graduates and provide the necessary supervision to get started in the profession.
These are just a few of the employment settings available to you as a speech-language pathologist. For additional possibilities please visit ASHA.
Why Choose a Career in Speech-Language Pathology?
Pick a reason or choose all of them (from ASHA Reward Yourself Brochure)
- To serve members of your community
- To be an independent, responsible professional
- For opportunities to be creative
- To earn a good living
- For the option of different work settings
- Because you like asking questions and finding answers
- Because you want academic and intellectual challenges
- To contribute to a growing and vital body of language
- For the personal satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference in people's lives