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Speech-Language Pathologist

Nature Of the Work

Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent disorders related to speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, and fluency.

Speech-language pathologists work with people who cannot produce speech sounds or cannot produce them clearly; those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering; people with voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice; those with problems understanding and producing language; those who would like to improve their communication skills by modifying an accent; and those with cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem-solving disorders. They also work with people who have difficulty swallowing.

Work environment. Speech-language pathologists usually work at a desk or table in clean, comfortable surroundings. In medical settings, they may work at the patient's bedside. In schools, they may work with students in an office or classroom. Some work in the client's home.

Training and Advancement

Education and training. Most speech-language pathologist jobs require a master's degree.

Licensure and certification. In 2009, 47 States regulated speech-language pathologists. Typical licensing requirements are a master’s degree from an accredited college or university, a passing score on the national examination on speech-language pathology, 300 to 375 hours of supervised clinical experience, and 9 months of postgraduate professional clinical experience.

Other qualifications. Speech-language pathologists should be able to effectively communicate diagnostic test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatment in a manner easily understood by their patients and their families. They must be able to approach problems objectively and be supportive. Because a patient's progress may be slow, patience, compassion, and good listening skills are necessary.


Speech-language pathologists held about 119,300 jobs in 2008. About 48% were employed in educational services. Others were employed in hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, including speech-language pathologists, nursing care facilities, home healthcare services, individual and family services, outpatient care centers, and child day care centers.

9% of speech-language pathologists were self-employed in 2008.

Job Outlook

Faster than Average employment growth is projected. Job opportunities are expected to be favorable.

Employment change. Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow by 19% from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations.

Median annual wages of speech-language pathologists were $62,930 in May 2008. The middle 50% earned between $50,330 and $79,620. The lowest 10% earned less than $41,240, and the highest 10% earned more than $99,220.

Information provide by: bls.gov


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