What Jobs Can You Get with a Master’s in Speech Pathology?

What jobs can you get with a master’s in speech pathology? Speech pathology is an exciting field that can lead to a number of job opportunities. Speech pathologists, or speech-language pathologists, are master’s-trained and state-licensed health care professionals. Speech-language pathologist (SLP) candidates complete clinical hours, an internship or fellowship, and must pass the Praxis national examination in speech-language pathology. SLP professionals can also pursue national certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 

These highly trained health professionals are in great demand, with job opportunities available full-time, part-time, temporary and per diem. Check out this list of jobs you can get with a master’s in speech pathology to explore some of the possibilities, if you are wondering, “What are careers in speech pathology?” It may also be helpful to research the top speech pathology grad programs to ensure you are getting a quality education. 

1. Speech Pathologist in Early intervention, Preschool & K-12 schools

It goes without saying that speech during the growing years is essential, and the SLP is there from the beginning, helping those with mild to severe speech and language issues. The SLP is often employed in the early childhood and educational setting, providing services such as screening and diagnostic evaluations; providing services for individuals, small groups or classrooms; and collaborating with other educational professionals and parents to improve academic, communication and social skills in the school environment. The speech pathologist works with students on listening and speaking, as well as reading, writing and learning strategies. Completing required documentation and developing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) are all within their scope of practice. Consulting with other support staff and educators within the school, providing needed counseling and education to families, as well as supervising clinical practicums and fellowships, can all be part of the speech pathologist’s work day. With about 56% of speech pathologists working within the education system at all levels, these professionals are sure to find opportunity there. For this career, be sure to research the top speech pathology programs, as you will need a master’s in speech pathology. 

2. Traveling Speech Pathologist

The speech-language pathologist may find career opportunities taking them to regions far and wide. The traveling SLP should have at least two years of solid experience with skills and knowledge to take them to other clinical settings, as well as a master’s from one of the top speech pathology programs. Assignments for this career can provide opportunities in a range of settings both at home and abroad. These positions can be found by working with travel medical staffing agencies that secure temporary contracts with hospitals, schools and other settings in need of professional SLPs. By being positive and flexible, the SLP can get to work in a wide range of situations, with new possibilities in new geographic areas abounding. By being open to go where SLPs are needed, you may find new professional interests that you can bring back home. The traveling speech pathologist lifestyle may be for you if you are confident in your skills and can both plan ahead and go with the flow by being flexible. 

3. College Professor and Researcher

Qualified speech-language pathologists can find opportunity in academia, where the need for professors and researchers is abundant. SLPs can teach up-and-coming speech pathologists at colleges and universities, and fill the need for researchers at this level as well. Unlike other speech pathology positions, being a SLP professor and researcher typically requires a PhD, preferably from the best speech pathology schools, to get one of these positions. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the need for PhD-prepared speech pathologists is increasing with the need to fill teaching and research positions. 

4. Corporate Speech-Language Pathologist

It may be surprising to know that a speech-language pathologist (SLP) may be employed by a corporation, but there is a need that can be filled by the SLP professional. The corporate SLP professional provides services directly to company executives, employees or to its customers. SLPs provide communication assessment and training, including speech production, speech fluency, voice training, language and social communication in business. Topics for training may include topics such as presentation skills, professional diction, grammar, accent training and modification, writing for business, communication etiquette, and interviewing skills. The corporate SLP trains executives in clear communication by addressing vocal misure, reducing or eliminating unwanted accents, and adapting local vocal dialects to improve relatability with employees and clients. The professional SLP also may train service representatives to work with customers with hearing loss to ensure effective communication. 

5. Private Practice Speech Pathologist 

Many SLPs develop a private practice, either full time or part time. This exciting possibility allows the entrepreneurial SLP to work autonomously, making their own decisions about target populations, and scheduling. This is an attractive option that a percentage of SLPs take advantage of. While many SLP professionals in private practice work independently, some are part of a larger private practice that employs different health professionals in addition to SLPs. The SLP in private practice typically manages the business side, including billing, marketing, contracts, and insurance. This is an option, if you are wondering, “What are careers in speech pathology?”

6. Voice Coach Speech Pathologist

The voice and speech coach that is a speech pathologist is poised for success in this interesting position. SLPs have a strong background and experience on the mechanics of voice and have a professional edge to work with injured voices, and to help prevent voice injuries. Voice coaches often train actors, business executives and others who rely professionally on their voice to heal and prevent voice injuries, reduce their accents, develop and adapt new dialects, project their voice, among other things. The SLP professional interested in this exciting field would benefit from pursuing continuing education specific to this job. In addition, research certifications in the field that would be beneficial to the voice coach, such as the Compton PESL Pronouncing English as a Second Language) certification. Business classes can also help prepare the SLP to work in this setting, in addition to speech and voice courses. 

7. Hospital-Based Speech Pathologist

Hospitals employ speech pathologists to work with patients in acute care, rehabilitation, pediatric and psychiatric hospitals around the country, providing speech and language care in inpatient and outpatient settings. Hospitals serve all ages and populations, with some hospitals serving specific populations, such as pediatric hospitals or VA hospitals. The pediatric speech pathologist can expect to work with those under age 21 in the hospital setting. Rehabilitative speech pathologists are equipped to diagnose and treat those with cognitive language disorders and swallowing problems in the rehab hospital setting. All SLPs in a hospital setting are equipped to provide needed counseling to patients and their families, as well as educate staff about language disorders and swallowing problems. 

8. Home Care Speech Pathologist

The home care speech pathologist can expect to travel to their patients to provide needed care. SLPs working in home care must be able to work effectively independently, since they travel to patient homes alone. These speech pathologists can expect to work with a wide range of patients of all ages and with a wide range of health care needs. This service is essential to those who are unable to participate in an outpatient setting due to their inability to travel and other personal restrictions. The home care speech pathologist should be confident in their practice, and have an outgoing, friendly, and flexible personality to care for their patients in their own homes. 

9. Residential Health Care Speech Pathologist 

The speech pathologist working in residential health care can expect to perform screenings and assessments, and deliver patient treatment in a variety of residential health care settings. Residential settings such as skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or group homes for psychiatric patients or special needs populations are just a few of the posibile residential situations where the SLP may find meaningful employment. The speech pathologist working in residential health care can expect to treat the same disorders seen in hospitals, but can anticipate working with patients on functional skills to preserve or develop independence as well. 

10. Speech Pathologist Serving in the United States Military

Speech pathologists can serve their country as clinicians in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Public Health Services. These SLPs provide needed speech and language care services to active military members and their families, and veterans. The professional SLP may also work as a speech pathology researcher, adding to the research needed to improve patient care. If you wish to serve your country while working in this exciting profession, this may be for you. Call a recruiter to learn about this meaningful career option, if you are wondering, “What jobs can you get with a master’s in speech pathology?”

FAQs

What exactly does a speech pathologist do?

A speech pathologist, also known as a speech-language pathologist (SLP), is a master’s trained health care professional that can assess, diagnose, and treat speech, communication and swallowing disorders across the lifespan. The SLP also works to prevent disorders in this area. 

Who would make a good speech pathologist?

Certain traits in an individual will help them be successful in this exciting and growing field. Traits such as empathy, excellent communication skills, compassion, an aptitude for scientific information, adaptability, resourcefulness, and persistence are a few important qualities in stand-out SLPs. 

How is the job growth projection for a speech-language pathologist (SLP)?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for SLPs is projected to grow 25% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than average for all other occupations. This high growth rate stems from a number of factors, including the aging baby-boom population. The aging population promises more health conditions that have the potential to cause speech and language impairment. 

What is the salary outlook for SLPs?

In May 2020 the median annual wage for a SLP was $80,480, which is the wage at which half of the workers in this occupation earned more and half earned less. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2020 the median annual wage for all workers in all occupations in the United States was $41,950. This profession has the potential for paying well, and has excellent job prospects for the future. 

Is being a speech pathologist considered a good job?

Many people find this a rewarding career as a healthcare professional. SLPs have the opportunity to help individuals and their families, and can have a positive impact on their patients’ quality of life. WIth a median income of $80,480, people in this gratifying profession can enjoy a good standard of living. 

What should I major in as an undergraduate if I want to become a speech pathologist?

Popular undergraduate majors for aspiring speech pathologists include communication sciences and disorders, linguistics, language development, psychology, English and education, to name a few. Although these are common majors for those entering the field, SLPs can come from a wide range of backgrounds before entering a graduate program.

How do I become a speech pathologist?

The road to becoming a speech pathologist commonly follows three steps. First, earning a bachelor’s degree in an area of interest or a related field such as communication sciences and disorders, linguistics, language development, psychology, English or education. Second, graduate from an accredited master’s program in speech-language pathology. Research the best speech pathology schools for your master’s degree. The master’s program typically includes clinical or internship requirements. Third, gain licensure in your state. Check with your state to determine requirements. Passing the national examination, the Praxis, is necessary. 

Where do speech pathologists work?

According to ASHA, more than half of SLPs work in an educational environment. Here’s the breakdown: 54% schools, 3% colleges/universities, 13% hospitals, 10% residential healthcare facilities, 16% non-residential healthcare facilities, 5% other. Speech pathologists enjoy quite a few options when it comes to where they work. 

What is the professional organization for speech pathologists?

The professional organization for speech pathologists is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA is your one stop shop for information on accredited master’s programs, certification, state licensure, the Praxis exam and everything in between. Check out ASHA to further explore a career as a speech-language pathologist. 

By Carol Dolan BS RN BSN CDCES

May 2021

Carol graduated with her BS in Nutrition from Montclair State University and her BSN in Nursing from Rowan University. She is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) currently working with adults and children living with diabetes in both outpatient and inpatient settings.

This concludes our list: What are careers in speech pathology?