What Does A Speech Pathologist Do?

The job of speech pathologists is to diagnose, treat, and prevent speech, social communication, language, swallowing, and cognitive-communication disorders in both children and adults. They are responsible for providing aural rehabilitation for people with hearing impairment and hearing loss, and alternative and augmentative systems for people with severe language comprehension disorders such as progressive neurological disorders and the autism spectrum. Speech pathologists may also work with individuals without language, swallowing, or speech disorders, but are eager to know how to communicate more effectively.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real speech pathologist resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Lead a clinical workgroup to develop a weekly treatment group for patients using AAC devices.
  • Manage staff development activities including sensory integration and IEP goal writing.
  • Manage outpatient needs with rehab clinical supervisors and managers to ensure site productivity.
  • Work closely with lead hospital SLP on interpreting MBS results and formulating appropriate treatment strategies to meet each patients needs individually.
  • Develop policies and procedures to secure Medicare and Medicaid provider numbers.
  • Provide consultation to two early intervention programs for students with communication disorders due to autism, hard-of-hearing, and developmental delays.
  • Diagnose and treat adults and children with neurological and/or developmental communication disorders, cognitive and swallowing disorders within an outpatient setting.
  • Plan and participate in weekly staff meetings including diagnostic case review, treatment caseload review, in-service presentation and program development.
  • Assist families with videofluorographic (MBS) swallow examinations.
  • Provide appropriate speech-languages services for Pre-K, elementary, middle, junior high and high school student clients.
Speech Pathologist Traits
Analytical skills have to do with gathering information from various sources and then interpreting the data in order to reach a logical conclusion that benefits the business.
Communication skills shows that you are able to relay your thoughts, opinions and ideas clearly to those around you.
Detail oriented involves being extremely mindful and observant of all details.

Speech Pathologist Overview

Perhaps the hardest question to answer when deciding on a career as a speech pathologist is "should I become a speech pathologist?" You might find this info to be helpful. When compared to other jobs, speech pathologist careers are projected to have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 27% from 2018 through 2028. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, is that the projected number of opportunities that are predicted to become available for a speech pathologist by 2028 is 41,900.

A speech pathologist annual salary averages $67,932, which breaks down to $32.66 an hour. However, speech pathologists can earn anywhere from upwards of $52,000 to $88,000 a year. This means that the top-earning speech pathologists make $36,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

It's hard work to become a speech pathologist, but even the most dedicated employees consider switching careers from time to time. Whether you're interested in a more challenging position or just looking for a fresh start, we've compiled extensive information on becoming a graduate student clinician, student clinician, speech correction consultant, and optometrist.

Speech Pathologist Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 20% of Speech Pathologists are proficient in Patient Care, SLP, and Treatment Plans. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Communication skills, and Detail oriented.

We break down the percentage of Speech Pathologists that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Patient Care, 20%

    Designed/customized/implemented use of Speech Cart to increase efficiency while improving patient care.

  • SLP, 12%

    Worked closely with lead hospital SLP on interpreting MBS results and formulating appropriate treatment strategies to meet each patients needs individually.

  • Treatment Plans, 10%

    Developed specific treatment plans and family education plans for rehabilitation patients in anticipation of discharge home or to appropriate rehabilitation facilities.

  • Communication, 9%

    Provided consultation to two early intervention programs for students with communication disorders due to autism, hard-of-hearing, and developmental delays.

  • Communication Disorders, 7%

    Treated fluency disorders using program director's management and fluency shaping blended approach

  • Diagnosis, 6%

    Performed and developed comprehensive interdisciplinary evaluation reports and follow-up reports to include information about diagnosis and recommendations for intervention.

Most speech pathologists list "patient care," "slp," and "treatment plans" as skills on their resumes. We go into more details on the most important speech pathologist responsibilities here:

  • The most important skills for a speech pathologist to have in this position are analytical skills. In this excerpt that we gathered from a speech pathologist resume, you'll understand why: "speech-language pathologists must select the most appropriate diagnostic tools and analyze results to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan." According to resumes we found, analytical skills can be used by a speech pathologist in order to "analyzed and provided individualized and group therapy for patients diagnosed with dementia, swallowing, cognitive, voice and aphasia disorders."
  • Another commonly found skill for being able to perform speech pathologist duties is the following: communication skills. According to a speech pathologist resume, "speech-language pathologists need to communicate test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments in a way that individuals and their families can understand." Check out this example of how speech pathologists use communication skills: "conduct bedside swallow assessments and cognitive-communication evaluations in an acute care setting."
  • Detail oriented is also an important skill for speech pathologists to have. This example of how speech pathologists use this skill comes from a speech pathologist resume, "speech-language pathologists must take detailed notes on progress and treatment." Read this excerpt from a resume to understand how vital it is to their everyday roles and responsibilities, "documented therapy session details and generated billing sheets for medicaid."
  • In order for certain speech pathologist responsibilities to be completed, the job requires the skill "listening skills." According to a speech pathologist resume, "speech-language pathologists must listen to symptoms and concerns to decide on the appropriate course of treatment." As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "performed mbs for inpatients and outpatients and communicated results to physicians, nurses and families."
  • See the full list of speech pathologist skills.

    Before becoming a speech pathologist, 18.8% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 73.3% speech pathologists went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be impossible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most speech pathologists have a college degree. But about one out of every nine speech pathologists didn't attend college at all.

    The speech pathologists who went onto college to earn a more in-depth education generally studied communication disorders sciences and speech-language pathology, while a small population of speech pathologists studied special education and speech communication and rhetoric.

    Once you're ready to become a speech pathologist, you should explore the companies that typically hire speech pathologists. According to speech pathologist resumes that we searched through, speech pathologists are hired the most by Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care, Anthem, and Dignity Health. Currently, Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care has 54 speech pathologist job openings, while there are 27 at Anthem and 21 at Dignity Health.

    If you're interested in companies where speech pathologists make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care, St. Luke's Hospital, and Mayo Clinic. We found that at Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care, the average speech pathologist salary is $88,266. Whereas at St. Luke's Hospital, speech pathologists earn roughly $84,863. And at Mayo Clinic, they make an average salary of $84,149. While Amedisys Home Health and Hospice Care has 70 job listings for speech pathologists, St. Luke's Hospital and Mayo Clinic have 0 and 0 job listings respectively.

    View more details on speech pathologist salaries across the United States.

    We also looked into companies who hire speech pathologists from the top 100 educational institutions in the U.S. The top three companies that hire the most from these institutions include RehabCare Group East, Private Practice, and Aegis.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious speech pathologists are:

      What Graduate Student Clinicians Do

      Graduate student clinicians can be a nurse practitioner, pharmacist, or doctor whose primary job is to work with patients and assist patients in managing their medical condition or illness. They perform varied duties and responsibilities that include maintaining a good relationship with patients, discussing the treatment progress to patients, and documenting patients' medical history. Additionally, they are also responsible for assisting physicians on non-surgical procedures, updating the medical information of patients on charts, and giving diagnostic tests.

      In this section, we compare the average speech pathologist annual salary with that of a graduate student clinician. Typically, graduate student clinicians earn a $1,204 higher salary than speech pathologists earn annually.

      While the salaries between these two careers can be different, they do share some of the same responsibilities. Employees in both speech pathologists and graduate student clinicians positions are skilled in patient care, treatment plans, and communication disorders.

      As far as similarities go, this is where it ends because a speech pathologist responsibility requires skills such as "slp," "communication," "diagnosis," and "rehab." Whereas a graduate student clinician is skilled in "hearing loss," "adult clients," "data collection," and "group setting." So if you're looking for what truly separates the two careers, you've found it.

      On average, graduate student clinicians reach higher levels of education than speech pathologists. Graduate student clinicians are 10.1% more likely to earn a Master's Degree and 0.5% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Student Clinician?

      A Student Clinician is a healthcare practitioner who works as caregiver of a patient in a hospital or clinic. They integrate knowledge obtained in courses into the clinical practicum assignments.

      The next role we're going to look at is the student clinician profession. Typically, this position earns a higher pay. In fact, they earn a $1,650 higher salary than speech pathologists per year.

      While the salary may be different for these job positions, there is one similarity and that's a few of the skills needed to perform certain duties. We used info from lots of resumes to find that both speech pathologists and student clinicians are known to have skills such as "patient care," "treatment plans," and "communication disorders."

      While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that speech pathologist responsibilities requires skills like "slp," "communication," "diagnosis," and "rehab." But a student clinician might use skills, such as, "hearing loss," "speech-language pathology," "group setting," and "adult clients."

      In general, student clinicians study at lower levels of education than speech pathologists. They're 29.7% less likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 0.5% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      How a Speech Correction Consultant Compares

      The third profession we take a look at is speech correction consultant. On an average scale, these workers bring in lower salaries than speech pathologists. In fact, they make a $39,316 lower salary per year.

      While looking through the resumes of several speech pathologists and speech correction consultants we discovered that both professions have similar skills. These similarities include skills such as "patient care," "slp," and "treatment plans," but they differ when it comes to other required skills.

      As mentioned, these two careers differ between other skills that are required for performing the work exceedingly well. For example, gathering from speech pathologists resumes, they are more likely to have skills like "communication," "diagnosis," "rehab," and "caseload." But a speech correction consultant might have skills like "public speaking," "professional knowledge," "data collection," and "preliminary information."

      Speech correction consultants typically study at lower levels compared with speech pathologists. For example, they're 42.9% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 7.1% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of an Optometrist

      A licensed optometrist is primarily responsible for the vision and eye care of clients, treating different conditions such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness. Their duties mostly revolve around performing eye and vision tests, diagnosing issues, providing consultations, prescribing corrective glasses and lenses, and educating clients on proper eye care methods. Furthermore, an optometrist must maintain records of all cases and treatment plans, and supervise support staff should they choose to work at a private clinic or a similar setting.

      Optometrists tend to earn a higher pay than speech pathologists by about $109,826 per year.

      According to resumes from both speech pathologists and optometrists, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "patient care," "diagnosis," and "private practice."

      While some skills are shared by these professions, there are some differences to note. "slp," "treatment plans," "communication," and "communication disorders" are skills that have shown up on speech pathologists resumes. Additionally, optometrist uses skills like customer service, diagnostic tests, visual acuity, and pre on their resumes.

      In general, optometrists reach lower levels of education when compared to speech pathologists resumes. Optometrists are 66.5% less likely to earn their Master's Degree and 32.9% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.