Now is the right time to join the profession as a speech-language pathologist. It’s a rewarding career that is increasingly in demand. There are shortages of speech paths in both the educational and medical settings.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics* the field of speech pathology will grow at the rate of 19% over the next eight years, which is a faster growth rate than typical jobs. The median pay for a speech pathologist is $69,870 per year.
To become a speech pathologist, it is necessary to earn a master’s degree. There are some online options that have become available over the past several years, but most programs are based in large schools with graduate degree options. Graduate programs in speech therapy are not offered at every university because they are expensive to run: It is necessary to have a speech and language clinic that receives clients from the community that the graduate students can evaluate and treat.
Although requirements change, graduate students need to earn 400 hours of clinical contact before they can earn their degree and become eligible for certification from the American Speech-Hearing-Language Association. The hours are required to be distributed in the areas including stuttering, articulation, voice, language, dysphagia, etc. Additionally, they must be with people across the lifespan. Speech pathologists treat people from birth until age ninety or older. The graduate program is responsible for providing lots of therapy and lots of clients for their graduate clinicians, which can be burdensome for newly-founded speech programs.
A typical master’s degree takes two years to complete. However, that is the standard time only for a person who has an undergraduate degree (BA/BS) in communication disorders. A person with an undergraduate degree in another discipline can go to graduate school for speech pathology, but they should expect to take somewhere between a semester and a full-year of undergraduate courses. I was a non-traditional student with an undergraduate degree in Spanish. I spent a year taking undergraduate courses in speech pathology to prepare me for graduate study.
Regular Educational Tract for SLP:
- High School Diploma
- Four Year College or University Degree (BA/BS): Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders
- Two Year Graduate Study –Masters (MA/MS)
Non-Traditional Student Educational Tract:
- High School Diploma
- Four Year College or University Degree (BA/BS): Any Major
- One or More Semesters of Undergraduate Classes in Communication Sciences and Disorders
- Two Year Graduate Study – Masters (MA/MS)
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Speech-Language Pathologists,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm (visited October 20, 2014).