Speech Pathology in America Today

By Hibah Ahsan

Speech and Language Pathology is not a career that is often talked about, however, it is very important. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, about 40 million people in America have some type of communication disorder. What does this mean for the field? Simply put, America needs more speech pathologists.


Speech and language pathologists diagnose and treat communication and swallowing disorders in people of all ages. Like many other careers in therapy, speech and language pathology requires about six years of schooling. Usually, this entails a four-year bachelor’s degree followed by two years for a master’s.


Although this is the basic requirement, many people, such as Dr. Jennifer Jones, a speech pathologist in Gwinnett, Georgia, go further in their education and get their Ph.D. as well. Some do this because it helps boost their resume and gives them a better chance of employment.


Anybody skilled in math and sciences, as well as communication and linguistics, could be great individuals for this field, but having the drive to help others may be the most important characteristic.


Dr. Jones said that to be successful, “...it is important to be sensitive to others when being a speech pathologist. Sensitive and patient.”


Costs for a master’s degree could be from $50,000 to $90,000. Though this can be too high for some, it is a great idea for people who want to help cure and treat others but don’t have the money or time for medical school, which could cost significantly more.


Speech Pathology usually requires the average 40-hour workweek, though self-employed people may work less or more. Self-employment is preferred for many speech pathologists with a lot of experience because they can pick and choose exactly where and who they treat, and how often.


According to Dr. Jones, people must have good communication skills and patience when working with their patients, so hours must be suitable to ensure no one gets frustrated. Dr. Jones worked in many different locations of employment including elementary schools and a private clinic and enjoyed the changes in the proverbial scenery. Before working, she got licensed by the state of Georgia, which most jobs will require.


According to Speech Pathologist Graduate Programs, to be a qualified speech pathologist, an individual must have a “clinical fellowship of at least 36 weeks…” and pass the Praxis II, a test that measures acquired knowledge on a specific subject.


Since this career’s hours depends on each individual, the salary ranges from as low as $54.8k to as high as $94.2k a year. The salary could also fluctuate depending on the cost of living, so keep that in mind when deciding whether the salary fits both desires and needs.


More benefits for Speech Pathology include its impressive outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2018 to 2028, the projected job outlook is 27%. This is an impressively high outlook as opposed to many other fields and should be a huge positive for those still in school and looking for a job for the future.


The most important aspect of a job for many is how real workers feel about their job and what the job does to better the world.


Dr. Jones says, “I love my job. It has its ups and downs but I really enjoy the feeling I get when I am helping others.”

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