The speech-language pathologist job has been ranked as one of the best jobs in 2012 by US News (article). Ranked #14, the speech-language pathology career field is poised for continued growth over the next several years. The Department of Labor is predicting a 23% growth (28,000 therapist) over the next decade.
Speech-Language Pathologist Career
Communication is one of the most important skills one must have to survive. If someone has difficulty communicating, obtaining basic needs can be difficult. A person may not be able to enunciate properly or lack these skills because they were born with mental or learning disabilities. In some instances, an individual has suffered from a stroke or brain injury and must relearn these skills.
A speech language pathologist is extensively trained to recognize communication problems, assess the severity and develop a course of action to help to the patient improve. The pathologist may utilize a treatment plan focused on oral exercises to improve the patient’s speech or in severe cases, develop a plan in which they teach the patient alternative methods to communicate their needs to others. Pathologists convene with doctors, educators, social workers and parents on a regular basis to ensure that their patients are receiving the best care possible.
The pathologist has options as to where they would like to work after they have earned their degree, depending on their interest. Approximately 48% of pathologists work within the education system, while the remaining 52% are employed in medical facilities, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Once an individual has chosen where they would like to focus their career, extensive training is required before entering into a speech therapy career. There is additional work required after graduating with a master’s degree from an accredited program. The graduate will need to pass the Praxis national examination as well as work between 300 and 375 hours of supervised clinical experience, followed by nine months of post-graduate experience prior to receiving their license. Continuing education courses after employment are required to maintain their license.
Speech-Language Pathologist Salary
Upon receiving a license and becoming gainfully employed, pathologists can expect to work forty hour work weeks and receive a salary between $42,000 and $103,000, with the average salary estimated at $67,000. Salaries tend to be higher if the pathologist seeks employment in home health care or a medical laboratory.
With the influx of SLP travel jobs and the income potential for a pathologist, together with the rewarding opportunity of improving the quality of someone’s life, it’s no wonder to see how a speech language pathologist has been pegged as one of 2012’s best jobs.