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mirifique's avatar

Thoughts on future demand for speech language pathologists?

Asked by mirifique (1511 points ) June 25th, 2010

I just got really excited about speech language pathology after learning that tuition isn’t as expensive as I originally thought—even though I’d have to take a year of prerequisites. It’s a very interesting career to me and I think I’d be good at it; the question is, whether by the time I finish the prerequisites and the master’s program there will still be a similar demand level as there is right now. Right now the demand is skyrocketing and the salaries are in the $50–90k range, which just seems too good to be true. The Bureau of Labor Services’ Occupational Outlook Handbook states there will be 19% growth in this field and that job opportunities are going to be favorable. But is this another “here comes everyone” type career, like occupational therapy and nursing, where eventually the labor market will get oversaturated and salaries will plummet? Or perhaps government funding will dry up, or a new technology will negate the need for speech language pathologists? SLP’s seem to be in a better position than occupational therapists, as Medicare and Medicaid are cutting back in favor of physical therapy (they don’t wanst to pay for two simultaneous therapies), in addition to the fact that occupational therapists and physical therapists have assistants that actually perform the therapy and the OT/PT’s just do the diagnostics and therapy “plan”, whereas a speech language pathologist will carry out both the planning and the therapy. But what are the potential pitfalls of going into this particular field and investing time and money into the education and certification process?

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6 Answers

jazmina88's avatar

they are needed for stroke patients…...you’ve got good facts in perspective growth.
I say it looks like a good plan.

hug_of_war's avatar

this is one of the two fields i will likely go into (currently getting my bachelor’s) and there is plenty of demand especally with autism and medical SLP (head & neck cancer, dysphagia, voice disorders). It is a field with a lot of variety. Most SLPs make between 50–60k, with the low end being those who work in schools. Before you commit to 3 years though you need to get the fantasy of being an SLP out of your head – there are cases like mine where it took me 7 years to fully learn the r sound, SLP therapy is not fast, and people who like fast results will get really frustrated. Are you willing to relocate? Like a lot of things finding a job if you can’t move can be difficult as a school district may only need one SLP and a few branches of a medical center may share a SLP. SLP won’t be replaced by technology anytime soon, much of what we do isn’t cut and dry, that need for creativity makes us hard to replace.

hearkat's avatar

Speech-Language Pathologists will be in demand because our population is aging… the baby-boomers are in their 50s and 60s now. And there are also many programs for special-needs students that are mandated by the government, so they don’t get cut when budgets are an issue as they are now. There are also fewer training programs than there are for nursing, so the field is not likely to become over-saturated any time soon.

hearkat's avatar

@hug_of_war: You make a good point about not being replaceable by technology, and creativity being crucial to being effective in ongoing therapy situations. As you said, there are some whose jobs are more diagnostic than therapeutic… such as hospital-based clinicians who perform swallow evaluations and initial assessment for acute care. Those patients typically receive ongoing treatment at nursing or rehab facilities. Some hospitals also have outpatient services, too; so those clinicians get a nice balance of ongoing therapy and diagnostic procedures.
Are you still on the fence? Feel free to ask more questions, if you’d like.

nina's avatar

Unfortunately, the government funds are drying up as we speak.

captainsmooth's avatar

I’m a speech path who works for a school district, does early intervention and evaluations as a subcontractor. There are a lot of jobs available.

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