Communication Sciences & Disorders

Employment Outlook


Expected Growth

Student clinician in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Clinic works on articulation with young client. This photo shows that a student upon graduating could have a rewarding career working with children.

Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than 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. The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a Federal law that 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 healthcare 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-language pathologists in private practice should increase because hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities will contain costs by increasingly contracting out for these services.


Earnings

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, provides the following summary wage and salary statistics for professional Speech-Language Pathologists (www.bls.gov/oco/ocos099.htm) and Audiologists (www.bls.gov/oco/ocos085.htm):

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

Nursing care facilities $79,120
Home health care services 77,030
General medical and surgical hospitals 68,430
Offices of other health practitioners 67,910
Elementary and secondary schools 58,140

Some employers may reimburse speech-language pathologists for their required continuing education credits. About 40 percent of speech-language pathologists were union members or covered by union contract in 2008.

Median annual wages of audiologists were $62,030 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $50,470 and $78,380. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,360, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $98,880. Some employers may pay for continuing education courses. About 15 percent of audiologists were union members or covered under union contracts in 2008.

Additional Sources of Salary Information:
ASHA's 2011 SLP Health Care Survey reported a mean annual salary of $73,415 (n=682) for speech-language pathologists employed in medical and nursing-related facilities. For more information,   examine the ASHA 2011 SLP Health Care Survey - Summary Report.

ASHA's 2010 Schools Survey Workforce and Work Conditions summary reported a median 9-10 month salary of $58,000, and a median 11-12 month salary of $65,000 for speech-language pathologists employed in school-based settings.  For more information, examine the: 
ASHA 2010 Schools Survey- SLP Annual Salaries and Hourly Wages Report.