Speech Therapist Jobs

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Speech therapists hold about 110,000 jobs and about half of them are employed in educational services, primarily in preschools and elementary and secondary schools. Others are employed in hospitals; offices of other health practitioners, including speech therapists, nursing care facilities, home health care services, individual and family services, outpatient care centers; and child day care centers. A few speech therapists are self-employed in private practice and contract to provide services in schools, offices of physicians, hospitals, or nursing care facilities, or work as consultants to industry.

Average employment growth is projected for speech therapists and job opportunities are expected to be excellent. Employment of speech therapists is expected to grow eleven percent from 2006 to 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As the members of the baby boom generation continue to age, the possibility of neurological disorders and associated speech, language, and swallowing impairments increases. Medical advances also are improving the survival rate of premature infants and trauma and stroke victims, who then need assessment and sometimes treatment.

Employment in educational services will increase with the growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students. Federal law guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech and language disorders in young children will also increase employment.

In health care facilities, restrictions on reimbursement for therapy services may limit the growth of speech-language pathologist jobs in the near term however, the long-run demand for therapists should continue to rise as growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function spurs demand for therapy services. The number of speech therapists in private practice will rise because of the increasing use of contract services by hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities.

The combination of growth in the occupation and an expected increase in retirements over the coming years should create excellent job opportunities for speech therapists. Opportunities should be particularly favorable for those with the ability to speak a second language, such as Spanish. Job prospects also are expected to be especially favorable for those who are willing to relocate, particularly to areas experiencing difficulty in attracting and hiring speech therapists.

Median annual earnings of wage and salary speech therapists are close to $58,000. The middle fifty percent earn between $46,500 and $72,500. The lowest ten percent earn less than $38,000, and the highest ten percent earn more than $90,500. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of speech therapists are as follows: speech therapist jobs in nursing care facilities pay around $70,000, jobs in offices of other health practitioners pay around $63,000, general medical and surgical hospitals pay close to $62,000 and jobs in elementary and secondary schools pay around $53,000.

Some employers may reimburse speech therapists for their required continuing education credits. State licensing boards can provide information on licensure requirements and state departments of education can supply information on certification requirements for those who wish to work in public schools. Speech therapists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of speech and language problems. Workers in related occupations include audiologists, occupational therapists, optometrists, physical therapists, psychologists, and recreational therapists. Speech therapists in school systems often work closely with special education teachers in assisting students with disabilities.