Speech Language Pathologist Salary

During the course of human development, learning oneís native language is a true miracle of cognitive growth. For some, this innate talent is blocked by a genetic or environmental cause. Those with difficulty speaking, reading, and understanding their native tongue get help from medical experts known as speech language pathologists. Pathologists must diagnose the problem and prescribe a course of therapy to deal with it, working with every age and demographic. It is a career that requires education and training.

Problems in speaking and understanding language have many causes. Many occur in childhood, meaning that speech language pathologists may find employment opportunities in schools and working with children. Genetic and neurological problems can interfere with the natural development of language in young people. There are also motor physical issues that make forming words difficult for some. Speech and language pathologists are often called on to treat tangential problems, such as chewing and swallowing. Finally, older patients suffer from disease and injury that can take away their abilities, requiring them to regain their speech and language function. Speech language pathologists diagnose the cause of language problems, come up with a course of remediation, and perform any procedures or therapy needed to help their patients communicate as effectively as possible. These skills take years to learn.

The demands of a speech language pathologist education pay off during a rewarding career. Speech language pathologist salaries are significantly higher than salaries in other industries and are quite healthy for the health care industry in general. The median wage for the field is $66,920 per year, which translates into an hourly wage of $32.17. Of course, the median wage is not the wage all pathologists will earn; much depends on the nature of their employer and the region of the country where they work. The lowest 10 percent of earners in the field pull in a little over $42,000, while the top 10 percent manage a generous compensation of over $100,000. Experience plays a factor in compensation. Speech language pathologists who work with individual patients in their homes are very generously compensated. Those who work in schools, the majority of workers in the field, make slightly less on average. Large states have the most speech language pathologists working, but average salary ranges wildly. The top five states for pathologist compensation are Alaska, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, and California. Finding a degree program in one of these states may lead to the most desirable employment conditions.

The first step in qualifying for a speech language pathologist salary is finding the appropriate degree program that fits your budget and background. This job requires postgraduate education. Candidates generally get an undergraduate degree before pursuing a degree in speech language pathology. Focusing on science courses will help candidates, as they may be prerequisites for certain speech pathology programs. All states certify speech language pathologists, so those looking to join the professions would be served by checking the requirements for their state. Most certification agencies require a graduate degree in speech language pathology, clinical experience through an internship or postdoctoral work, and a national examination. The most common degree for speech language pathologists is a masterís degree that takes two to three years to complete. Clinical experience will require an extra amount of time, often a year or more, to complete. Students would be advised to find their clinical experience in an area they want to work in since many such opportunities lead to paid work.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014