Speech Pathologist: Job Outlook and Career Requirements

Speech pathologists require a significant amount of formal education. Learn more about job duties, degree programs and licensure to see if this is the right career for you. View article »

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  • 0:01 Essential Information
  • 0:26 Job Duties
  • 1:03 Job Outlook and Salary
  • 1:41 Education Requirements
  • 2:18 Licensure and Certification

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Video Transcript

Essential Information

Required Education Master's degree
Other Requirements State license
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 21%
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $76,900

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Speech pathologists are healthcare professionals that assess, diagnose, and treat disorders related to speech, fluency, language, cognitive-communication, and voice. They work with people who have trouble producing speech sounds or who have speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering. The speech problems that they treat can be congenital, developmental, or acquired due to a health problem or disorder.

Job Duties

Speech pathologists might find employment in medical facilities, schools, or research laboratories. They may help people learn how to communicate more effectively,or design and develop equipment or techniques for diagnosing and treating speech problems. Job duties vary depending on the work setting, but in general, speech pathologists develop individual treatment plans tailored to each patient's needs. They then document, evaluate and monitor each patient's progress. Speech pathologists also have administrative responsibilities, such as coordinating paperwork, scheduling case management activities, and writing lesson plans.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of speech-language pathologists was expected to increase by 21% between 2014 and 2024. This prospective increase is attributed to a rising population of baby boomers, whose chances of developing speech, language, and swallowing impairments increase with age. A greater understanding of speech disorders, particularly in children, also might contribute to more job opportunities for speech pathologists. As of May 2015, the average annual salary for these professionals was $76,900 per the BLS.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Audiology and Hearing Sciences
  • Speech-Language Pathology

Educational Requirements

Most speech pathologists have a master's degree. Some states require that speech pathologists graduate from programs accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation to later become licensed. Courses in audiology or speech-language pathology programs generally cover anatomy and physiology, acoustics, audiology, language development, research, and speech disorders. Along with the required coursework, students also learn to evaluate and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders as part of supervised clinical practicums. Students also might need to complete internships or student teaching experiences.

Licensure and Certification

Licensure is required by most states; however, specific eligibility requirements vary by state. Typical requirements include earning a master's degree from an accredited program, passing the national licensing examination, accumulating a certain number of supervised clinical practice hours, and completing some postgraduate professional experience. Continuing education is typically required for licensure renewal.

In addition, speech pathologists might earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential, which is a voluntary certification offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). To earn this credential, applicants must have graduate degrees from accredited universities, complete clinical fellowship, and pass an exam on speech-language pathology.

In summary, the job outlook for speech pathologists is much better than for most other occupations. Speech Pathologists typically need a master's degree and state licensure, and voluntary professional certification is available.

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