Career Pathway: Speech-Language Pathology

Pathway Overview

Why Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)?

  • Fulfilling career
  • Varied work settings 
  • High demand 
  • Ability to develop close ties to patients

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) diagnose and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. The outlook for SLPs is bright as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the profession to grow by 29 percent between 2020-2030, much faster than the average career. Speech-language pathology is often rated as one of the top careers in healthcare because of its healthy work-life balance and fulfilling responsibilities (#4 in Best Healthcare Jobs in U.S. News & World Report). 

For those who enjoy developing close ties with patients, creating and implementing long-term treatment plans, and have interest in pursuing an advanced degree, speech-language pathology is an excellent career path. SLPs are trained to work with patients from infancy through adulthood and can work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and private practices. The resources below review some of the varying pathways and settings available to speech-language pathologists.

Certifications and Licenses

Below are credentials found in the speech-language pathology field.

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) must hold a state license to practice in a given state. Holders of the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) satisfy the requirements for licensure in the majority of states.

Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP)

A CCC-SLP demonstrates specialized knowledge and training in the speech-pathology field. To earn the CCC-SLP, one must graduate with a master’s degree from an accredited program, pass the Praxis examination in speech pathology, complete a clinical fellowship with at least 36 weeks and a minimum of 1,260 hours, and complete the CCC-SLP application.

In-Demand Skills

Ultimately, your ability to land a specific role rests on your experience and educational background, as well as your proficiency in the skills below.

Transferable Skills and Qualities

  • Critical thinking 
  • Communicative
  • Collaborative
  • Creative 
  • Adaptable
  • Flexible
  • Analytical

Field-Specific Skills

  • Screen for and diagnose speech disorders. 
  • Create and implement treatment plans.
  • Document progress toward therapy goals.
  • Provide one-on-one speech therapy. 
  • Educate parents, healthcare professionals, and school staff about effective and individualized strategies for students. 
  • Provide high-quality care.

Job Fields

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)

Speech-language pathologists work individually with patients to improve disordered speech, language, or swallowing. SLPs assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with speech disorders. The work setting often dictates the population of patients a SLP will work with and any additional responsibilities they have. For example, in a school they work with children and collaborate with the special education team to create Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).  

Work settings include:

  • Early intervention, preschool, and K–12 schools
  • Colleges and universities 
  • Local, state, or federal government agencies
  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities 
  • Private practices

Entry-Level Job Title Examples: Speech-Language Pathologist, SLP, Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, SLP Clinical Fellow 

Future Roles: Speech-Language Pathology II, Speech-Language Pathology Manager, Speech-Language Pathology Lead Supervisor, SLP Clinical Leader

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