Is Speech Pathology Worth It? [2021 Guide]

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Is speech pathology worth it?

Is Speech Pathology Worth It

Speech therapy can make a positive impact in the lives of others. It can often be a dynamic and rewarding career.

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There are numerous educational paths available to those looking to enter into speech pathology, so you may center your studies around your personal goals and obligations.

Is Speech Pathology Worth It?

Speech Pathology

Yes, speech pathology is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 25% job growth for speech-language pathologists over the next ten years, which is much faster than average job growth. This type of work also has nationwide demand.

Professionals working in speech and language pathology tend to find their jobs very rewarding. Their work you can have a great impact on people’s lives. There is often flexibility in their workday, they are not confined to office work, and they have the ability to work with a variety of patients in a compassionate setting.

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Speech-language pathology is needed in a variety of settings, such as residential care facilities, schools and social services agencies. Some speech pathologists even work alongside occupational therapists in hospitals.

Earning a masters degree in speech pathology can help you develop the necessary skills and knowledge needed in this ever-growing field.

How to Decide Whether Speech Pathology Is Right for You

If you are wondering whether a degree in speech pathology is right for you, it may be helpful to see if the below factors resonate with you.

1. You want to make a difference in people’s lives.

degree in speech pathology

Speech pathologists tend to be compassionate, and their work can have an impact on the betterment of people’s lives.

Their work can include identifying speech and language needs, making individualized treatment plans, and working alongside patients as they learn to cope and adjust their oral or written language.

They might work with children or adults who are frustrated with their challenges. Speech pathologists can offer them support, growth, and proper treatment, and the results can be life-changing.

2. You want a flexible work environment.

Speech and language pathologists

Speech and language pathologists are not confined to a desk in an office. Although they often have paperwork and planning to prepare for each patient, they are almost always on the move.

Professionals in this field can work in residential care units, schools, and social service agencies. They can also work alongside occupational therapists in a hospital or clinic. If you are self-employed, where you work is up to you.

Patients may be from all walks of life, and every experience with every patient will be different. This can keep the job dynamic, fast-paced, and interesting.

3. You’re an analytical thinker with great communication skills.

Speech language pathologists

Speech language pathologists have the skills and tools to create appropriate, individual treatment plans to meet the needs of every patient. They often need to have extensive problem-solving skills, and they can’t become too overwhelmed by challenges and roadblocks.

Patients can become frustrated easily, and speech therapists have to ensure that they do not become frustrated in response. Speech pathologists need to have clear and extensive communication skills, making their patients feel comfortable and helping them understand the plan for them to succeed.

3 Things You Can Do with a Speech Pathology Master’s Degree

While speech pathology masters programs are very specialized, the speech therapy and critical-thinking skills you learn may be applicable to a variety of sectors within healthcare and education.

1. Speech-Language Pathology

Speech-Language Pathology

A speech-language pathologist helps to diagnose the issues a patient has with their language skills, whether oral or written or both. Through this diagnosis, they develop an individualized treatment plan and carry out this plan with the patient.

Throughout the treatment process, they may need to adjust their strategy. They may find themselves working with children or adults, and this type of position can be found in numerous work settings as well.

2. Occupational Therapy

An individual with a speech pathology masters degree may find themselves working in the field of occupational therapy. The goal of occupational therapy is to help patients develop the necessary skills for successful daily living.

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Occupational therapists evaluate a patients’ medical history, their personal needs, and their home environment, developing a plan to help improve their way of life. An occupational therapist is separate from a speech therapist, but they can work alongside each other to help patients.

3. Interpreter or Translator

With a passion for language and speech, individuals with a speech pathology degree may find themselves pursuing work in language conversion.

For instance, some speech pathologists learn sign language because it can benefit their work with patients who are speech or hearing impaired. Interpreters and translators are needed in a variety of settings, and these positions are in great demand.

Speech Pathology Degree Alternatives

Speech Pathology Degree Alternatives

A speech pathology degree is typically focused on a speech pathologist pathway. Here are some degree alternatives that may lead you toward other rewarding and compassionate careers.

  1. Masters in Linguistics. This program studies the structure of language, and it overlaps with many scientific courses. Linguistics students tend to practice their skills in residency and lab settings with real-life case studies.
  2. Masters in Special Education. You might consider this alternative if you’re interested in working with children who have special and developmental needs.
  3. Masters in Communication Disorders. This very specialized degree helps you develop creative methods for improving communication challenges and abilities in patients. Communication disorders may stem from speech, hearing, fluency, or trauma issues.

It can be beneficial to explore various masters degrees to ensure that you’re choosing the area of study that best matches your career goals.

Speech Pathology Careers & Salaries

Speech Pathology Careers & Salaries

There is extensive demand for individuals who have masters degrees in speech pathology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 25% over the next ten years.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Speech-Language Pathologists, Retirement and Assisted Living Facilities $97,970
Speech-Language Pathologists, Nursing Care Facilities $95,430
Speech-Language Pathologists, Child Day Care Services $89,670
Speech-Language Pathologists, Home Health Care Services $89,210
Speech-Language Pathologists, Hospitals $87,110
Speech-Language Pathologists, Offices of Audiologists and Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapists $83,250
Speech-Language Pathologists, Postsecondary Schools $82,620
Speech-Language Pathologists, Elementary and Secondary Schools $71,450
Speech-Language Pathologists, Educational Support Services $67,790
Special Education Teachers $61,420

A background in speech pathology can also lead to other career paths, such as special education teacher or interpreter. These positions may require additional training.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Speech Pathologist

Like every job, there are a number of benefits and disadvantages of being a speech pathologist. Here are a few to consider prior to pursuing your degree.

Pros Cons
  • Your work can impact others for the better.
  • You may find work in a variety of settings with a variety of age groups.
  • You can see multiple patients in a day, which can result in a dynamic workday.
  • There is great demand and a positive job outlook for this position.
  • You may have the flexibility to create your own schedule and workload.
  • You may have numerous caseloads to work on at the same time.
  • You may be required to work during weekends and holidays in the healthcare field.
  • Working year-round with a full caseload may cause burnout.
  • This specialization may limit you to a certain career path.
  • There are not many advancement opportunities in this profession.

Researching this position more can help you determine whether this is the right path for you.

What Is an SLP?

What Is an SLP

A speech language pathologist (SLP) is a professional who works with patients to treat their speech, language, or swallowing challenges.

SLPs can work with babies, children, or even adults under a variety of circumstances. For example, they can work with victims of trauma who need to relearn language or young children with speech impediments.

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Their work can be very dynamic and very rewarding. They can work in residential care homes or school settings. They can also work in hospitals alongside occupational therapists. Speech language pathologists can also be self-employed and work out of their own clinics.

What Does a Speech Pathologist Do?

Speech Pathologist careers

A speech pathologist evaluates each patient’s needs and creates individualized treatment plans that help address their specific challenges.

They can also counsel their patients through these conditions and help them manage and alter their speech, language, or swallowing difficulties. Some speech and language challenges include voice disorders, cognitive communication issues, or fluency problems.

Speech language pathologists are also responsible for the administrative tasks that accompany their caseloads. This can include billing, altering plans if necessary, and tracking evaluations and diagnoses.

How Much Do Speech Pathologists Make?

Speech Pathologists salary

The median salary for speech language pathologists (SLPs) is $80,480 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Speech pathologists’ salaries can vary based on a number of factors, such as their state of residence and their industry of employment.

Healthcare SLPs who work in hospitals make a median salary of $87,110, and the median for those who work in schools is $71,410. Some speech pathologists pursue additional training in order to work in the classroom as special education teachers. The median salary for this profession is $61,420 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Is Speech Pathology a Good Career?

Is Speech Pathology a Good Career

Yes, speech pathology is a good career for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for speech-language pathologists is $80,480.  

In addition, this profession is in high demand. Employment for speech-language pathologists is expected to grow 25% over the next ten years, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Many SLPs find their work dynamic and rewarding. Speech pathologists can make a difference in the lives of their patients, and they are typically not stuck behind a desk. Their work can change from day-to-day as they engage with new patients and challenges.

With all of this in mind, a number of professionals may look into how to become a speech pathologist as a career path. 

Is There a High Demand for Speech Pathologists?

High Demand for Speech Pathologists

There is currently a high demand for speech pathologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow 25% over the next ten years.

There are various factors that contribute to this immense growth. For instance, as the baby boomer generation gets older, there will be more elderly patients dealing with dementia and other disorders that can lead to speech impairments.

With the increased awareness of speech and language difficulties in children, more speech pathologists are need to address these disorders early on. Speech pathologists can also work with children on the autism spectrum, helping them improve their communication skills.

What’s the Difference Between a Speech Pathologist vs. Speech Therapist?

The SLP industry sometimes uses the titles speech pathologist and speech therapist interchangeably, but there are a few slight differences.

Speech Pathologist Speech Therapist
  • Preferred term because it captures the essence of the work, which involves making diagnoses
  • Can create a variety of activities and assessments for their patients’ growth
  • More dated term that can refer to passive therapy rather than assessment work
  • Traditionally uses therapeutic approaches and rehabilitation techniques

In this day and age, it’s common for these two terms to be used to refer to the same work.

Getting Your Masters in Speech Pathology Online

Masters in Speech Pathology Online

If you are looking to step into the sector of compassionate care, getting your masters in speech pathology can help you develop specialized training in this growing field.

With an online masters program, you can often schedule your courses according to your professional and personal obligations. This flexibility may enable you to obtain your degree on your own time. Some universities even offer an online speech pathology masters without GRE requirements. 

If you’re wanting to advance your expertise in speech pathology, you can start exploring accredited universities today to find the program that best fits your interests and career goals.

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Claudia Amendola Alzraa
WRITTEN BY
Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia has a Master's in Library and Information Studies, a Bachelor's in Education, and a Bachelor's with Honors in English and Philosophy. With a history working in Special Education, Claudia is an advocate for diversified and equitable education, and student success initiatives.