The terms speech pathology, speech language pathology (SLP) and speech therapy essentially describe the same type of work; in these pathology jobs individuals can work with people of all ages suffering from a speech or language disorder to help them communicate more effectively. What most distinguishes different speech pathology jobs from one another is the setting in which the therapist works and the population they serve.
Below is a list of common careers in speech therapy. Each one of these speech pathology jobs is unique in terms of the setting and population served. This listing demonstrates the wide variety of vocational opportunities that may be available to speech pathology professionals.
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics the median speech pathologist salary in 2010 was $66,920, the top 10% of earners made more than $103, 630 and the bottom 10% of earners made less than $42,970. Speech therapy jobs are expected to grow by 23% between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the average of all other occupations. The growth of SLP jobs can be attributed to the increasing occurrence of communication disorders experienced by the aging population and an increased awareness of the ability of speech therapy professionals to treat communication disorders in children.
Many schools, public and private, employ speech pathologists. These speech pathology professionals work with children. They may serve as teachers, sometimes in a dedicated special education classroom with select students and sometimes in a regular classroom.
Alternatively, they may work privately one on one with students throughout the day to address individual needs. Individuals practicing speech therapy in schools collaborate with teachers and parents to create a personalized treatment plan for students with communication disorders. They may also conduct screenings and provide training to teachers and/or parents.
Speech therapy services provided in hospitals and other health care facilities often require the professional to be able to service a wide variety of populations and disorders. In these settings the age of patients may be extremely varied, and the disorders are likely to be more severe. Individual’s working in this type of pathology job usually spend more of their time diagnosing and treating disorders and less time providing educational assistance.
Speech therapy training can also be applied in research facilities and laboratories, including those run by the government and by other organizations. Institutes devoted to public health and health care as well as companies who manufacture products to assist people with speech and language disorders often need the expertise of speech pathology professionals. Those working in this setting may conduct research themselves or assist speech pathology research scientists in their work.
Speech therapy professionals interested in teaching future generations, of speech pathology students may choose to teach at the speech pathology graduate programs level at a college or university setting. Professors dedicate most of their time to research and teaching rather than working directly with patients. Most teaching positions will require at least a few years of practical experience as well as a PhD in speech pathology.
Some speech pathology practitioners may choose to go into private practice. Speech therapy services are provided contractually to private patients as well as to institutions. This type of speech pathology job may come with considerable flexibility but also great responsibility. Speech therapy professionals who choose this career typically manage the financial, legal, and ethical issues associated with speech pathology practice and are often subject to working irregular hours to meet the needs of their clients.
Nearly all SLP jobs require a graduate degree. Speech pathology professionals may also want to obtain certification by ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Certification demonstrates proficiency in providing speech therapy services.