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Working as a Speech Language Pathologist

What Does a Speech Language Pathologist Do

Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, Parkinson’s disease, a cleft palate, or autism.

Duties

Speech-language pathologists typically do the following:

  • Evaluate patients’ levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty
  • Identify treatment options
  • Create and carry out an individualized treatment plan that addresses patients’ specific functional needs
  • Teach patients how to make sounds and improve their voices
  • Work with patients to develop and strengthen the muscles used to swallow
  • Counsel patients and families on how to cope with communication and swallowing disorders

Speech-language pathologists work with patients who have problems with speech and language, including related cognitive or social communication problems. Their patients may be unable to speak at all, or they may speak with difficulty or have rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering. Speech-language pathologists may work with people who are unable to understand language or with those who have voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or a harsh voice.

Speech-language pathologists also must complete administrative tasks, including keeping accurate records. They record their initial patient evaluations and diagnoses, track treatment progress, and note any changes in a patient’s condition or treatment plan.

Some speech-language pathologists specialize in working with specific age groups, such as children or the elderly. Others focus on treatment programs for specific communication or swallowing problems, such as those resulting from strokes or a cleft palate.

In medical facilities, speech-language pathologists work with physicians and surgeons, social workers, psychologists, and other healthcare workers. In schools, they work with teachers, other school personnel, and parents to develop and carry out individual or group programs, provide counseling, and support classroom activities. For more information on teachers, see the profiles on preschool teachers, kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers, and special education teachers.

How To Become a Speech Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree. They must be licensed in most states; requirements vary by state.

Education

Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree. Although master’s programs do not require a particular undergraduate degree for admission, certain courses must be taken before entering a program. Required courses vary by institution.

Graduate programs often include courses in speech and language development, age-specific speech disorders, alternative communication methods, and swallowing disorders. These programs 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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Almost all states require speech-language pathologists to be licensed. A license requires at least a master’s degree and supervised clinical experience. Many states require graduation from an accredited master’s program to get a license. For specific requirements, contact your state’s medical or health licensure board.

Speech-language pathologists can earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Certification satisfies some or all of the requirements for state licensure and may be required by some employers.

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.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Speech-language pathologists must select the most appropriate diagnostic tools and analyze the results to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Communication skills. Speech-language pathologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments in a way that patients and their families can understand.

Compassion. Speech-language pathologists work with people who are often frustrated by their difficulties. Speech-language pathologists must be able to support emotionally demanding patients and their families.

Critical-thinking skills. Speech-language pathologists must be able to adjust their treatment plans as needed, finding alternative ways to help their patients.

Detail oriented. Speech-language pathologists must take detailed notes on patient progress and treatment.

Listening skills. Speech-language pathologists must listen to a patient’s symptoms and concerns to decide on the appropriate course of treatment.

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Average Salary$68,106
Job Growth Rate27%

Speech Language Pathologist Jobs

Speech Language Pathologist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Speech Language Pathologist

Top Careers After Speech Language Pathologist

PRN
9.2%

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Average Salary for a Speech Language Pathologist

Speech Language Pathologists in America make an average salary of $68,106 per year or $33 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $85,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $54,000 per year.
Average Salary
$68,106

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range67k - 98k$82k$81,784
Salary Range65k - 101k$81k$81,317
Salary Range66k - 92k$79k$78,535
Salary Range60k - 94k$76k$75,784
Salary Range56k - 94k$73k$72,710
Salary Range58k - 89k$72k$72,427
$45k
$101k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Speech Language Pathologist-SLP-School Pediatrics
Speech Language Pathologist-SLP-School Pediatrics
Careerstaff Unlimited
Careerstaff Unlimited
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$78,26310/31/2020
$78,263
Speech and Language Pathologist
Speech and Language Pathologist
Opportunity Council
Opportunity Council
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$59,52910/31/2020
$59,529
Speechlanguage Pathologist-SLP-School
Speechlanguage Pathologist-SLP-School
Careerstaff Unlimited
Careerstaff Unlimited
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$73,04510/31/2020
$73,045
Speech Language Pathologist-SLP-School
Speech Language Pathologist-SLP-School
Careerstaff Unlimited
Careerstaff Unlimited
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$91,82810/30/2020
$91,828
Speech Language Pathologist-SLP-Skilled Nursing Facility
Speech Language Pathologist-SLP-Skilled Nursing Facility
Careerstaff Unlimited
Careerstaff Unlimited
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$104,35010/30/2020
$104,350
See More Recent Salaries

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Speech Language Pathologist Demographics

Gender

female

84.5%

male

11.3%

unknown

4.1%

Ethnicity

White

80.9%

Hispanic or Latino

9.4%

Black or African American

4.3%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.2%

French

6.3%

Russian

5.7%
See More Demographics

Speech Language Pathologist Education

Degrees

Masters

86.2%

Bachelors

9.8%

Doctorate

1.6%

Top Colleges for Speech Language Pathologists

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

Tuition and fees
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

2. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

Tuition and fees
$17,653
Enrollment
16,405

3. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Tuition and fees
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

4. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY

Tuition and fees
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

5. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Tuition and fees
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840

6. University of Florida

Gainesville, FL

Tuition and fees
$6,381
Enrollment
34,564

7. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX

Tuition and fees
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

8. Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO

Tuition and fees
$53,399
Enrollment
7,356

9. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA

Tuition and fees
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

10. USF Sarasota-Manatee

Sarasota, FL

Tuition and fees
$5,587
Enrollment
1,834
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Speech Language Pathologist

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Top Skills For a Speech Language Pathologist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 16.5% of speech language pathologists listed slp on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and compassion are important as well.

Best States For a Speech Language Pathologist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a speech language pathologist. The best states for people in this position are Maine, California, Massachusetts, and West Virginia. Speech language pathologists make the most in Maine with an average salary of $81,373. Whereas in California and Massachusetts, they would average $77,753 and $77,608, respectively. While speech language pathologists would only make an average of $76,793 in West Virginia, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. West Virginia

Total Speech Language Pathologist Jobs:
69
Highest 10% Earn:
$114,000
Location Quotient:
1.4
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Maine

Total Speech Language Pathologist Jobs:
45
Highest 10% Earn:
$114,000
Location Quotient:
0.98
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Hampshire

Total Speech Language Pathologist Jobs:
107
Highest 10% Earn:
$110,000
Location Quotient:
1.49
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Speech Language Pathologist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a speech language pathologist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless speech language pathologist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Speech Language Pathologist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless speech language pathologist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Top Speech Language Pathologist Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ speech language pathologists and discovered their number of speech language pathologist opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that EBS Healthcare was the best, especially with an average salary of $73,741. Bilinguals Inc. follows up with an average salary of $45,453, and then comes Aegis Corporation with an average of $52,263. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a speech language pathologist. The employers include Broward County Public Schools, All About Floors, and Connections Academy

1. EBS Healthcare
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$73,741
Speech Language Pathologists Hired: 
746+
2. Bilinguals
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$45,453
Speech Language Pathologists Hired: 
334+
3. Aegis
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$52,263
Speech Language Pathologists Hired: 
307+
4. Interface
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$64,755
Speech Language Pathologists Hired: 
205+
5. TheraCare of New York
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$55,260
Speech Language Pathologists Hired: 
139+
6. HCR ManorCare
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$43,602
Speech Language Pathologists Hired: 
115+

Speech Language Pathologist Videos

Recently Added Speech Language Pathologist Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020