2012 Job Outlook for Speech Language Pathologists

by Ben Beckstrom on March 7, 2012

To borrow a line from Timbuk 3, for speech language pathologists, the future’s so bright, gotta wear shades. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is expected to grow faster than average compared to most professions. Average job growth is an increase of 7% to 13%. SLP jobs are expected to grow at an impressive 19% by 2018, and it doesn’t get much better than that, especially in this economy. Expressed in numbers, there will be 22,000 new jobs for speech language pathologists over the next few years.

One of the reasons for this expected boom is the huge numbers of baby boomers. As such a large group of people ages, the need for SLPs to help with the effects of stroke, neurological disorders, and other speech, language, and swallowing issues will increase. In addition, survival rates for premature births and accident, trauma, and stroke victims, have improved dramatically, increasing the need for assessment and treatment.

There will be increased need on schools as the population continues to grow. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act signed into law in 2004 guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities. Schools are obligated by federal law to identify and treat children with speech-language impairments. With school budgets under fire, many will opt for distance telespeech service as a viable, more affordable option. A big slice of the employment pie will go to SLPs who work from a remote location to service a number of schools or areas. Telespeech is an exciting ground-floor opportunity in a relatively new growth industry, made all the more practical by advances in technology. SLPs who choose private practice and take outsourced contracts could maximize the efficiency of distance services to blow the top off the pay scale.

Another factor for private practice SLPs to consider is outsourcing to the medical community. Many hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities find it more affordable and practical to outsource to a telespeech or visiting SLP than to maintain full-time staff.

Other considerations

The SLPs who will be most in demand will be those who speak two or more languages. For telespeech professionals working from a remote location, a working knowledge of tablet computers and SLP applications will also be a plus.

Salary projections
In 2008, the median salary of a speech-language pathologist was $62,930, with the lowest 10% earning about $40,000 and the highest 10% earning nearly $100,000.

This is an excellent time to enter the field of speech language pathology. The hours are good, the pay is excellent, and the opportunities are tremendous. It’s a demanding and deeply satisfying position with rich rewards in terms of helping people achieve normalcy and learn to communicate better. Living with the knowledge that your work dramatically improves the quality of life for many of your patients, especially in the case of children, is what makes the job so appealing.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

dave February 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm

As a therapist with 17 yrs experience, this article is overly optimistic and says nothing of the impact of Obamacare

Phoebe March 28, 2013 at 3:47 am

Hi Dave,
Can you please elaborate? I’m entering grad school for Speech Language Pathology this fall and would like to get as much real, honest background info and opinion I can. Thanks.

Zubair September 13, 2013 at 1:39 am

Hi Dave,
Read your comment and would appreciate your valued opinion on the future prospects of a SLP career. I am seriously encouraging my daughter to pursue this career and don’t want her to have any regrets later on. Would very much value your opinion as you seemed to be experienced in this field and much better to know the ground realities. Thanx in advance.

JoAnn September 22, 2015 at 10:51 am

I have been an SLP for 16 years. I work full time in the schools and part time home health. It’s an excellent field to get into. I about 30 job offers every month. There is a nationwide shortage and that looks to continue.

Laura Rodriguez December 12, 2017 at 10:52 pm

This article is definitely over optimistic. I am a 17 year Therapist. I am bilingual. When I started there were no interviews, you just got the job. I moved and applied for two jobs a year ago. There were about 80-100 or more that applied for each job, with only one position. I got both of the jobs. Problem is that the need is going to quickly dwindle as they do not need 100 SLP’s for a hospital compared to about that for nurses. In a hospital you need maybe one SLP. In schools, you need one per two or three schools. Do the math. Everyone and their family is going into speech therapy so I cannot imagine how there will be a big need for long. In my district there are zero openings, the one I left, zero openings. Two years ago that was unheard of. We could not fill our positions. Two years later, a flood of SLP’s it seems. Most around me, same thing. I’m not leaving where I am. None of the SLP’s are retiring anytime soon, nobody is moving so far, so….need is going to go down quickly. I get calls for jobs, but that is deceptive as many are temporary for maternity coverage etc. I think this is misleading information when you hear there are many jobs. There is a great need for temporary work. It was a great career run for me, but I would NOT go into it right now if I want a secure future. In hospitals I hear the need has gone down, especially skilled nursing facilities. I have friends there and hospitals and this is also what they say. I think we will have a million SLP’s with no jobs in the near future . I just have to be honest.

Tera Tuten December 14, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Hi Laura! Thanks for your input and feedback. This article was written in 2012 so the information and suggestions may be a bit outdated vs. today. We will definitely consider revamping this content to be more relevant for trends today.

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