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Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

What do Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) do?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) perform a variety of tasks to help individuals with communication and swallowing disorders. Some of the main responsibilities of an SLP include:

  • Evaluating and diagnosing communication and swallowing disorders: SLPs conduct assessments to determine the nature and severity of a person’s communication or swallowing disorder and use the results to develop a treatment plan.
  • Providing therapy: SLPs provide individualized therapy to help individuals improve their communication and swallowing skills. This may include exercises to improve speech, language, voice, and fluency, as well as strategies to help with swallowing difficulties.
  • Teaching communication strategies: SLPs teach individuals and their families how to use communication devices, such as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, and strategies for effective communication.
  • Collaborating with other professionals: SLPs often work as part of a team of healthcare professionals, such as physicians, nurses, and occupational and physical therapists, to provide comprehensive care to individuals with communication and swallowing disorders.
  • Consulting with schools and community agencies: SLPs may also provide consultation services to schools and community agencies to help them create supportive environments for individuals with communication and swallowing disorders.
  • Keeping records and providing reports: SLPs maintain accurate and up-to-date records of their evaluations, treatment sessions, and progress of their clients, and provide written reports to clients, families, and other professionals as needed.

What is the job outlook for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)?

The job outlook for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is very positive. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of SLPs is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to an aging population that is more likely to experience speech, language, and swallowing disorders, as well as increased awareness and diagnosis of speech and language disorders in children.

Additionally, there is a growing demand for SLPs in schools, as well as in healthcare settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and home healthcare services. The BLS also reports that the median annual wage for SLPs was $80,480 in May 2020, which is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations. Overall, the job outlook for SLPs is very positive, with strong job growth and competitive salaries expected in the coming years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Speech-language pathologists held about 159,800 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of speech-language pathologists were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private


Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists


Hospitals; state, local, and private


Self-employed workers


Nursing and residential care facilities


Speech-language pathologists typically work as part of a team. Some travel between different schools or facilities.

What are the salary expectations for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) can expect to earn a competitive salary, but it can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for SLPs in the United States as of May 2020 was $80,480.

However, this figure can vary widely depending on the location and setting. SLPs working in educational services tend to earn slightly less, with a median salary of $70,700. Meanwhile, those working in nursing care facilities tend to earn more, with a median salary of $92,670.

Overall, SLPs can expect to earn a comfortable salary that reflects their training and expertise, and there is often room for advancement as they gain more experience and take on leadership roles within their organization.

What are the education requirements for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)?

The education requirements for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) typically include the following:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Most SLP programs require a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or a related field.
  • Master’s Degree: A master’s degree in speech-language pathology is typically required to become a licensed SLP. This degree program usually takes two years to complete and includes both academic coursework and clinical experience.
  • Clinical Fellowship: After completing a master’s degree program, SLPs must complete a clinical fellowship, which is a period of supervised practice that typically lasts about nine months.
  • Licensure: All states require SLPs to be licensed. The requirements for licensure vary by state, but typically include completion of an accredited master’s degree program in speech-language pathology, completion of a clinical fellowship, and passing a national examination.
  • Continuing Education: SLPs are required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their license and stay current with new research and practices in the field.

Overall, becoming an SLP requires a significant amount of education and training, but it is a rewarding career that allows professionals to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Go to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for more information.

What areas can Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) specialize in?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) can specialize in a variety of areas within the field of communication disorders, including:

  • Pediatric speech and language: This specialization focuses on diagnosing and treating communication disorders in children, including delays in speech and language development, articulation disorders, and stuttering.
  • Adult neurogenic communication disorders: This specialization focuses on diagnosing and treating communication disorders caused by neurological conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
  • Voice disorders: This specialization focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders of the voice, including hoarseness, vocal nodules, and vocal cord paralysis.
  • Fluency disorders: This specialization focuses on diagnosing and treating fluency disorders such as stuttering.
  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC): This specialization focuses on assisting individuals with communication impairments to use AAC systems, which can include low-tech communication boards or high-tech devices that use synthesized speech.
  • Swallowing and feeding disorders: This specialization focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders of swallowing and feeding, which can occur in both children and adults and can be caused by neurological or physical conditions.

Overall, there are many areas of specialization within the field of speech-language pathology, and SLPs can choose to focus their practice on the area that best aligns with their interests and expertise.

What setting can Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)  work in?

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Schools: Many SLPs work in public and private schools, providing services to children with communication disorders, including speech and language delays, fluency disorders, and voice disorders.
  • Hospitals: SLPs can work in hospitals, providing evaluation and treatment for patients with communication disorders resulting from medical conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and cancer.
  • Rehabilitation centers: SLPs can work in rehabilitation centers, providing services to individuals who are recovering from injuries or illnesses that have affected their communication abilities.
  • Private practice: Some SLPs work in private practice, providing evaluation and treatment services to clients of all ages with communication disorders.
  • Skilled nursing facilities: SLPs can work in skilled nursing facilities, providing evaluation and treatment for patients with communication and swallowing disorders.
  • Home health care: Some SLPs work for home health care agencies, providing evaluation and treatment services to individuals with communication and swallowing disorders who are unable to leave their homes.
  • Research and academia: Some SLPs work in research settings, conducting studies on communication disorders, while others work in academic settings, teaching and training future SLPs.
  • Telehealth: SLPs can provide evaluations and treatments for patients in their homes using web enabled technologies.

Overall, there are many settings in which SLPs can work, and the specific setting will depend on the SLP’s interests, experience, and desired population of clients.