Speech language pathologists, also called SLPs, are therapists that evaluate, diagnose, and treat an array of speech, language, and cognitive communication issues, including swallowing disorders that can occur in both adults and children. As experts in communication, SLPs work with all types of patients, from adult stroke victims to children with developmental delays in a variety of health care, education, and research settings.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals, there’s a shortage of speech language pathologists, especially in schools, due to the aging population, growing rate of autism which often presents speech disorders, and limited openings in graduate programs.
Most speech language pathologists work in health care or educational settings with a majority working at schools. They also work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers and long-term residential health care facilities. Some may work in a private practice or work in the government sector.
Speech Language Pathologists at a glance
Scope of practice:
Evaluate, diagnose, and treat speech, language, cognitive communication, social (pragmatic) communication, literacy, and swallowing disorders in children and adults
Help aphasia patients find ways to communicate
Evaluate swallowing ability and prescribe appropriate diets
Train and education family members, caregivers, and other professionals
Collaborate with other care team members
Develop new treatment methods by conducting research
Travel Speech Language Pathologists are a top recruited specialty on NurseFly with hundreds of SLP jobs available nationwide.
Speech Language Pathologist salary
The median annual wage for speech language pathologists in May 2019 was $79,120 (BLS), which works out to about $1,522 weekly and $38 hourly based on a 40-hour work week. In comparison, NurseFly data shows that travel SLPs earned an average gross salary of $1,655 during this same year. Higher salaries may be earned based on education, experience, geographic location, and work setting.
Travel SLPs can expect to earn more than those in equivalent staff positions with assignment pay, including taxed and untaxed income. Housing allowances and per diems for meals or incidentals are common, but only travel allied health professionals who claim a permanent tax-home may receive extra compensations.
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What are the best agencies for SLP jobs?
The agencies on NurseFly that currently have the most SLP jobs are Med Travelers (520), Club Staffing (514), and ProTherapy Staffing (154).
How Much Do SLP Jobs Pay?
For jobs available on NurseFly as of Monday, January 25th 2021, the average weekly pay for SLP jobs is $1,733, but can pay up to $2,340 per week. In 2021, Speech Language Pathologists jobs on Nursefly paid a gross average weekly pay of $1,647 per week working an average of 36 hours per week. This includes non-taxable compensation like living stipends, meal stipends, and housing which add up to an average value of $926 per week.
- min - $816
- avg - $1,733
- max - $2,340
Where do SLPs work?
SLPs work in numerous health care, education, and research settings ranging from private practices to public programs. More than half of speech language pathologists work in education with the majority in preschool and K-12 settings and a smaller percentage working in colleges or universities where most research is funded.
Many SLPs also work in residential and nonresidential health care settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, physicians’ offices, and long-term residential health care facilities. Because speech and language issues often present alongside other medical disorders, SLPs can expect to work in collaboration with many different care providers.
How to become a Speech Language Pathologist specialist?
At a minimum, speech language pathologists must earn a master’s degree in the field after earning a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences or a related field with required prerequisites to enter graduate school. They must also complete a postgraduate fellowship and most states require licensing. It’s advised to obtain a Certificate of Clinical Competence in the field of Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP).
What does a Speech Language Pathologist do?
Speech language pathologists help patients of all ages learn to communicate more effectively. Patients may present with physical impairments that obstruct their ability to make verbal sounds or they may struggle with more cognitive issues that impair their ability to interpret language and express themselves socially. SLPs diagnose and treat many different communication and swallowing disorders, often requiring individualized plans and lengthy rehabilitation.
Common roles and responsibilities of a speech language pathologist include:
Creating and implementing individualized treatment plans that address specific communication needs
Training, educating, and collaborating with family members, caregivers, and other care team members
Helping patients with expressive and language comprehension disorders like autism improve their verbal and nonverbal communication skills
Providing training to patients with fluency disorders, such as stuttering, to make speech clearer and more comfortable
Working with patients with dysphagia or swallowing disorders, to develop and strengthen muscles used to swallow
Helping patients with aphasia and other cognitive disorders to augment communication and improve memory, attention, and problem solving
Providing aural rehabilitation to hard of hearing or deaf patients
Helping patients improve their literacy skills, including reading, writing, and spelling
Engaging in research and supervising rehabilitation programs in clinical, school, and developmental settings.
What skills make a good Speech Language Pathologist?
SLPs must have comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of language and communication as well as proven therapeutic methods for rehabilitation. In addition to this expertise, many of the most desirable skills are soft skills. Speech language pathologists need to advocate for patients who often struggle to advocate for themselves. Useful soft skills include:
Creativity to provide innovative exercises to meet individual needs
Enthusiasm to motivate patients during challenging treatments and recoveries
Genuine compassion and empathy
Maturity and professionalism in all situations
Patience and persistence to effectively treat, rehabilitate and improve each patient’s quality of life
SLPs must also have a high degree of critical thinking, organizational, and time management skills. To effectively serve all patients, they must be adaptable, proactive, and willing to consult and collaborate with family members, caregivers, teachers, and other health care professionals. SLPs should also continually seek new learning opportunities to keep their knowledge and skills current.