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Learn How to Become a Speech Therapist

Discover speech-language therapy and pathology training and careers.

speech therapist working with young girl
speech therapist working with young girl

Speech-language pathologists, often referred to as a speech therapist, evaluate and treat children and adults with speech and language problems.

They help children and adolescents with language disorders to understand and give directions, convey ideas and improve language skills that lead to better academic performance.

And they evaluate and treat people with swallowing disorders that may result from various types of causes, including the following:

  • Hearing loss
  • Surgery
  • Stroke or brain injury
  • Accidents and injuries
  • Cerebral palsy or other afflictions, such as a cleft palate

Speech Therapist Job Description

Speech-language pathologists can work alone, or with rehab teams to co-treat patients with other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists. Typical speech-language pathologist duties may include the following:

  • Working with children to improve their language skills and their academic performance
  • Treating people who have experienced a stroke or brain trauma to help them regain language, speech and swallowing ability
  • Assisting individuals in developing proper control of the vocal and respiratory systems for correct voice production
  • Counseling individuals and families to better cope with speech and language disorders
  • Helping those who stutter to increase fluency
  • Assisting with accent modification for non-native speakers of English

Speech Therapist Salary

Speech-Language Pathologists

National data

Median Salary: $79,060

Projected job growth: 28.7%

10th Percentile: $51,310

25th Percentile: $61,970

75th Percentile: $100,200

90th Percentile: $125,560

Projected job growth: 28.7%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alaska $79,100 $60,900 $101,570
Alabama $61,590 $47,600 $99,780
Arkansas $74,410 $47,500 $124,580
Arizona $78,670 $58,190 $120,750
California $100,410 $63,590 $129,460
Colorado $95,110 $62,060 $126,140
Connecticut $97,070 $61,000 $126,220
District of Columbia $95,870 $64,140 $133,890
Delaware $79,120 $56,390 $121,060
Florida $79,870 $57,400 $103,430
Georgia $77,480 $47,850 $101,870
Hawaii $95,950 $62,550 $162,770
Iowa $75,220 $59,320 $99,340
Idaho $76,260 $37,550 $102,060
Illinois $78,670 $48,170 $118,810
Indiana $78,670 $47,580 $117,440
Kansas $74,880 $47,450 $100,370
Kentucky $74,880 $48,590 $104,050
Louisiana $77,790 $47,580 $101,870
Massachusetts $95,110 $60,270 $127,210
Maryland $79,560 $59,660 $123,530
Maine $75,710 $59,130 $97,250
Michigan $77,370 $48,940 $100,870
Minnesota $77,830 $54,000 $100,920
Missouri $76,680 $47,580 $101,590
Mississippi $61,790 $38,430 $100,730
Montana $77,540 $47,580 $99,040
North Carolina $73,890 $48,300 $99,780
North Dakota $61,340 $47,440 $95,620
Nebraska $74,930 $48,350 $99,040
New Hampshire $77,290 $58,140 $100,870
New Jersey $98,950 $61,530 $152,720
New Mexico $78,930 $48,520 $125,730
Nevada $78,700 $47,210 $126,080
New York $98,990 $60,060 $131,000
Ohio $78,440 $48,940 $124,440
Oklahoma $76,730 $47,710 $100,670
Oregon $92,200 $61,330 $103,930
Pennsylvania $78,670 $56,960 $121,630
Rhode Island $89,150 $60,110 $121,140
South Carolina $76,730 $37,200 $106,680
South Dakota $60,680 $46,500 $93,900
Tennessee $76,640 $47,580 $102,060
Texas $77,290 $50,730 $126,170
Utah $77,510 $47,580 $103,740
Virginia $95,110 $59,660 $127,300
Vermont $77,310 $48,360 $123,800
Washington $92,590 $67,710 $107,890
Wisconsin $76,720 $54,120 $99,460
West Virginia $61,650 $47,250 $123,860
Wyoming $62,360 $59,660 $98,790

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2030. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

Speech Therapist Work Environment

Employment of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow at a rate of 29%, which is much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2030.

Federal legislation mandates the presence of speech, language and hearing professionals in public schools. Also, a steady rise in the number of older adults with language, speech and hearing problems is increasing the demand for the services of speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

As an experienced speech-language pathologist, you’ll be able to work in a variety of settings, including the following:

  • Hospitals and rehabilitation centers
  • Private practice
  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • State and local health departments
  • Home health agencies
  • Long-term facilities
  • Private industry nonprofit clinics

Speech-language therapists and pathologists often work with doctors, social workers and psychologists, while others elect to help school systems by coordinating with teachers, administrators and parents to provide individual and group counseling and support, either inside or outside of the classroom.Speech Therapist Education and Training

Speech Therapist Education and Training

To become a speech-language pathologist, you can earn a bachelor’s in communication sciences and disorders or a related discipline and then enter a graduate program in speech-language pathology. If you didn’t take general communication sciences and disorders coursework during your undergraduate years, you can enter a one- to two-year post-baccalaureate program to complete the required prerequisites for graduate school.

In order to practice as a speech-language pathologist, you must complete a two-year master’s (or, in rare cases, a four-year doctoral program in speech-language pathology (SLP.D.). The PhD in speech-language pathology is typically acquired for in-depth research into a particular area of interest.

Many speech-language pathologists join a union, such as the state teachers association in which they practice.

Speech Therapist Certification

Speech-language pathologists can acquire the nationally recognized Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which demonstrates your achievement of excellence within the field. To earn a CCC-SLP, a person must have a graduate degree and 400 hours of supervised clinical experience (25 hours in clinical observation and 375 hours spent in direct patient contact), complete a 36-week postgraduate clinical fellowship, and pass the Praxis examination.