Aspiring speech language pathologists, take note: You have picked the right profession. In addition to an extensive range of possible practice settings, the speech language pathology field is experiencing significant growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 21 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.” And as baby boomers age, demand will only increase. “We consider the outlook strong for the profession,” says Lemmietta McNeilly, chief staff officer for speech language pathology at ASHA. “We don’t have enough speech language pathologists to meet the demand.” 1
"We don’t have enough speech language pathologists to meet the demand."
Lemmietta McNeilly, Chief Staff Officer for Speech Language Pathology at ASHA
Schools in particular are very much in need of speech services. “Some districts have put a hiring freeze on teachers, or even laid them off, but speech pathologists’ salaries are paid by Medicaid, and federal law mandates that students in need get tested and treated at no charge,” McNeilly said. In 2014, nearly 40% of speech language pathologists worked in schools. Specifically, speech language pathologists work with teachers, other school personnel, and parents to develop and carry out individual or group programs, provide counseling, and support classroom activities. Most other speech language pathologists worked in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, partnering with physicians and surgeons, social workers, psychologists, and other healthcare workers. 2
According to Susan Latham, Director of the Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology program at Saint Mary’s College, speech language pathology is one of the most versatile careers. “You can work anywhere from inpatient or outpatient hospital settings, to assisted living, to preschools and individual patients’ homes,” Latham said. “Speech pathologists work with clients from beginning of life to end of life.” Latham’s career trajectory led her from the neonatal intensive care unit to an aural school helping with cochlear implants, to an early intervention setting. She has also worked in both urban and rural school districts, as well as individual family homes, and served as an autism consultant and clinical supervisor prior to embarking on her academic career.