A speech language pathologist can earn from $38,000 to $90,000 annually. The demand for them is also continuous, making it a good education investment. However, before you reap the big salary, you need first to become a legitimate speech language pathologist. But how?
1. Get a speech language pathology master’s degree. Most employers look for speech language pathologists with master’s degree. As of now, there are at least 230 training centers, universities, and colleges offering graduate programs for speech language pathology. Make sure you enroll in an education institution that has been accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
Getting your master’s degree from an accredited school is not always a requirement when getting certification. But that will be helpful when you seek for a job. Some states require this as well for the certification.
Usually, graduate courses on speech language pathology cover physiology, anatomy, psychological communication aspects, acoustics principles, and other related topics. You’ll learn treating and evaluating swallowing disorders, speech, and language as well.
2. Get speech language pathology training. Most licensure and certification programs for speech language pathology require at least 300 supervised clinical training and experience. It’s better to get the necessary trainings even if your state doesn’t require this. Finishing trainings will also give you an edge against other applicants during job hunting. This also develops your skills more and increases your credibility.
3. Get licensed and be a certified speech language pathologist. At least 47 States are now regulating speech language pathologists through a registration or licensure. To get licensed or registered, you should achieve the passing score on your state’s national examination.
Better check with your state for licensure and certification requirements. Most states only require a master’s degree and some hours of training. However, other states might require completing postgraduate fellowship or attending seminars and other special trainings.
Once you get certified, registered, or licensed, you can become a speech language pathologist. Most speech language specialists find jobs right away while some continue to hone their skills so they can gain expertise in a certain field like swallowing, feeding, fluency, and child language.
You’ll need to obtain recognition from the board before you can be an expert in a special area. Most experienced speech language pathologists become supervisors or mentors to therapists and other aspiring specialists.
In 2006, United States alone needed about 110,000 pathologists. About 11% demand growth for these professionals is expected from 2006 up to 2016.
You can be hired in secondary schools, elementary schools, preschools, and other educational institutions. Other employment vacancies are found in hospitals, health practitioner offices, family services, home health care services, child day care centers, and outpatient care centers. You may choose to be a self-employed pathologist as well.
Get hired in nursing care facilities if you want to get about $70,000 annual salary. Meanwhile, speech language pathologists in health offices and facilities usually earn about $62,000. The lowest-earning speech language pathologists are those working in elementary and secondary schools. They usually earn about $53,000.
For now, your concern is to become a licensed, certified, or registered speech language pathologist. After that, finding a job will just be easy as long as you keep your skills and knowledge competent in the market.