Career Outlook and Industry Trends for Speech Pathologists
Speech pathologists, also called speech therapists, work with patients to help diagnose and treat problems relating to language. You could work with patients dealing with brain damage who are learning to speak again, children born with speech impediments, those who have diseases that affect swallowing, and more. In addition, many speech pathologists do research to learn more about human communication.
Is becoming a speech pathologist a good option? This information should help you get a better idea about the field to see if this is the right degree and career path for you. Let’s take a look at the career outlook and industry trends in this field.
Speech Pathologist Employment and Job Outlook
As of 2008, there were about 119,300 speech pathologist jobs in the United States, with even more positions available today. By 2020, this number is expected to rise by about 23 percent, which is faster than average for all industries. That makes the job outlook in the speech pathology field very good! What’s more, the mean annual wage of a speech-language pathologist in May 2011 was $72,000, according to the BLS. Not bad!
Why are speech pathologists in such a high demand? There are a few reasons:
- First, more and more research is being done in this industry, with facilities hiring speech pathologists to help patients, especially children, who would have been swept under the rug just a few short decades ago. More attention is now being paid to those with speech and language issues, as well as research into the field.
- In addition, advances in medicine means that people are living longer, and senior citizens are often dealing with strokes, memory loss, and other problems that affect speech, so more and more geriatric speech pathologists are needed as the elderly population continues to grow and require more care.
- Medical advances also mean that children are surviving birth conditions that would have killed them in the not-too-distant past, and children born prematurely or with certain medical conditions often need speech therapy. These advances in medicine, coupled with the growing elderly population, are creating a growing need for qualified speech pathologists.
Where to Find a Job
If you become a speech pathologist, your best bet at finding a job quickly is to look at opportunities in schools and other educational facilities. More and more are hiring speech pathologists to help children with special speech needs. Nearly half of all speech pathologists are employed by schools. Other places where you can find jobs include:
- Home health care facilities
- Nursing homes
- Child care facilities
- Outpatient rehabilitation centers
Another job option you have that’s becoming more and more popular is to work for yourself on a freelance basis. You’ll have several clients who you travel to see or who visit you at your office to receive help with speech-related problems. Running a small business isn’t for everyone, but it does boost your earning potential in this industry, as well as give you several freedoms you wouldn’t have working as an employee. It also allows you the flexibility to work with a number of different clients with varying needs, and you would also have the freedom to take on as few or as many as your schedule permits, giving you more control over your time and the length of patient visits.
You can also open your own practice, which allows you to set your own hours and fees. Private practice also allows you the flexibility to determine practice scope. This field offers many types of professional opportunities and challenges.
Online Speech Pathology Programs
One route to becoming a speech pathologist is earning your degree online, a more convenient and flexible alternative to campus-based programs. Below are some accredited colleges with online programs available.
Ashford University — The applied linguistics program at Ashford University instructs students in such topics as how language can best be learned, social factors that affect language learning, and how technology can contribute to effective learning. Graduates of this program work as teachers, speech therapists, audiologists, translation and interpretation experts, marketers, and journalists.
Concordia University - Portland — Concordia University offers a dynamic Curriculum and Instruction English Language Development program. This program is a full year, completely online program designed to build on a teacher's knowledge and skills in developing student learning opportunities for underdeveloped native English speakers. Courses understand the fundamental structure of language and communication.
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