If you’re interested in a career that is both challenging and rewarding, speech-language pathology may be the perfect choice for you. What’s the average speech pathologist salary, and what is the career path like? Read on to get started.
The Average and Median Speech Pathologist Salary – Fresh Figures
According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, speech-language pathologists in the United States earn a mean annual wage of $85,820. The median speech pathologist salary is $79,060.
These figures are based on data from May 2021 and represent speech-language pathologists working in all industries across the country. It’s important to note that these are just averages, and your actual wage may be higher or lower, depending on a number of factors.
The lowest-paid 10% of speech pathologists earn $51,310 or less, while the top earners enjoy a salary of $125,560 or more.
What Factors Affect Speech Pathologist Salary?
There are a number of factors that can affect speech pathologist salary, including:
- education level;
- years of experience;
- type of employer.
The first two are obvious – the more education and experience you have, the higher your earnings are likely to be. But location and employer type can also play a role.
For example, speech-language pathologists who work in hospitals earn $91,810 on average, while those who work in schools only make $75,650 per year. The 3 highest-paying industries were: Management of Companies and Enterprises ($113,190), Home Health Care Services ($110,850), and Individual and Family Services ($102,610).
Speech-Language Pathologist Salaries over the Years
Speech pathologist salaries have increased steadily over the past few years. In May 2015, these professionals were reported to earn $76,900 per year on average. By 2018, this number increased to $80,700. In 2021, it was already $85,820. That amounts to an 11.6% increase in six years.
The inflation-adjusted numbers are less optimistic, as $76,900 in 2015 was worth the same as $87,916 in 2021. Still, the wage remains good, and the job outlook is positive. The BLS projects that the speech-language therapy field will grow by 29% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
This growth is driven by an increased demand for speech-language therapy services and the aging of the population. Besides, many workers are going to retire and will need to be replaced by new speech-language pathologists.
States with the Highest Speech Pathologist Salaries
Your speech pathologist salary will vary depending on the state you work in. Here are the five top-paying states for this profession, as reported by the BLS for 2021. We’re listing the mean annual salary.
- California – $102,650;
- Hawaii – $100,120;
- New York – $98,850;
- New Jersey – $98,270;
- District of Columbia – $98,240.
As you can see, these are high-cost-of-living states, which is to be expected. The average salary in these states reflects the living expenses and the higher demand for speech therapy services.
What Does a Speech-Language Pathologist Do?
A speech-language pathologist (sometimes abbreviated to SLP) is a healthcare professional who works with patients who have speech, language, voice, and swallowing disorders. These professionals assess and diagnose communication disorders, develop treatment plans, and provide therapy to help patients improve their speech and language skills.
What Challenges Do Speech Pathologists Face?
The average speech pathologist salary is quite good, but the work can be challenging at times. Here are some of the most common challenges:
- dealing with patients who are in pain;
- working with patients who have difficulty communicating;
- dealing with insurance companies;
- maintaining a caseload.
These challenges are to be expected, and they come with the territory. But they shouldn’t deter you from pursuing a career in speech-language pathology if this is what you’re passionate about.
Is a Career in Speech-Language Pathology Right for You?
If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in this field, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re up for the challenge. This is not an easy job, but it’s also very rewarding.
If you’re compassionate and patient, if you have good communication skills, and if you’re passionate about helping people, then a career in speech pathology might be right for you.
How to Become a Speech Pathologist?
If you want to work in this profession, you’ll need to earn at least a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. You will also need to obtain a speech pathology license in the state where you want to practice.
Once you have your degree and license, you can start looking for jobs. You can search on job boards like Indeed or LinkedIn. You can also contact speech-language pathology clinics or hospitals in your area and inquire about open positions.
The Bottom Line: Speech Pathology Salaries Are Good
If you’re thinking about working in this field of healthcare, you can rest assured knowing that it’s a good career choice. The average speech pathologist salary is over $80k, and the job outlook is positive. So, if you’re up for the challenge, don’t hesitate to pursue this career. It might just be the right fit for you.