Speech-Language Pathology is continually ranked as one of the best fields to work in. Is being a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) all that it is cracked up to be? You may be wondering: what are the pros and cons of being a Speech-Language Pathologist?
Many of the articles written about speech pathology aren’t even written by SLPs, so how can they know? As somebody who has been practicing for over 14 years, I’m happy to share my insight with you from first-hand experience.I’ll start with the positives and if you feel the need to keep on reading, you can continue on to the cons.
The Pros of being a Speech-Language Pathologist…
If you landed on this page, you may have heard about some of these pros already. Speech-language pathology is generally viewed as a fairly positive field to enter by mainstream media.
Make A Difference In People’s Lives
THIS is what keeps me coming to work day in and day out.
As an SLP, you may witness the tears pouring down a parent’s face because you helped their child say their first word. You may help a stroke survivor eat a meal for the first time after they depended on a stomach feeding tube for months. These are all life-changing moments that we help facilitate and are a part of.
Speech pathology is rewarding because you get to help people and their families, and make a positive impact in the lives of your patients and students. It is truly a rewarding field.
Working with patients through their journey and helping them achieve their goals is a huge benefit of being an SLP. It helps with job satisfaction and enjoyment in the field.
You Get To Perform Direct Care For Prolonged Time
For many SLPs, the best part about working in this field is the ability to work directly with patients, and for relatively long periods of time. Unlike other consultant roles which are pushed to see patients directly for less and less time, SLPs often spend 30-60 minutes working with their patients.
Flexibility In Schedule
One of the common sayings about why being an SLP is such a great career is because it is a flexible career path. If you’re wondering what that means, I’m here to break it down for you. When SLPs say that the field is flexible, they tend to mean that you can – if wanted – work varying degrees of hours based on your schedule.
For example, you could work full-time, part-time, or per diem (call in, as needed) as an SLP. For SLPs who choose to take time off to parent children, or take care of aging parents, this can be a true gift to be able to modify your hours based on your lifestyle.
However, flexibility in our field is based upon a lot of innate privilege. For those SLPs saying that the flexibility is so great, I think it’s important to consider how they pay their bills. Many SLPs who work part-time or per diem have spousal or family money that can provide for them so they can put their job as a secondary source of income. If this doesn’t sound like you, be forewarned that you may not have the flexibility that others do.
Personally, I have worked full-time, part-time, per-diem, and as a traveling contract SLP. I’ve balanced working 13-week travel contract assignments with taking time off and traveling the world for months at a time. This is something that I truly value about my profession.
Nationwide Job Opportunities
Speech-language pathology continues to be ranked one of the best careers by US News and World Report. Every year, they cite that SLP is a great career to enter because of job availability and growth. Yes, there are many job openings across the US available for SLPs. You quickly find out that recruiters blow up your phone frequently, leaving alluring messages to recruit you into a new position.
SLPs are needed in nearly every community in America. Unlike certain fields that require you to relocate or be in a certain metro area, SLPs are needed everywhere. Yes, certain areas may be more saturated with clinicians than others, but generally speaking, there is work for us everywhere.
Continued Growth In the Field & Need for SLPs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report that the need for SLPs is expected to grow at a higher than normal rate between now and 2026. There is an estimated 18% growth expected in the field. This is great news for job security and the future!
Become A Specialist
Speech-Language Pathology in itself is a very specialized field. Within the field, there are a lot of options to become an UBER specialist. For example, clinicians can specialize in infant feeding or vocal disorders. You can finely hone your skills and become very specialized within an already small field.
Be An Entrepreneur
There are many options for entrepreneurial ventures within the world of SLP. Many choose to open private clinics or become independent contractors. There are SLPs who own mobile Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallow (FEES) practices. Some crafty and creative SLPs make therapy materials and sell them on Teachers Pay Teachers or other stores.
Others, like myself, create digital content and make income online. There are certainly many options to branch out and use your business skills in this field. Because it is such a small niche and SLP services are often so desperately needed, it increases your chances of succeeding as an entrepreneur.
Work With Different Populations
As an SLP, you can work across the lifespan from infants to geriatrics. If you feel the need to change your work or work with more than one population, that option is available. The ability to change populations in your career is often a pro for individuals considering careers in education. They might not want to be tethered to working with youth all of their lives and like the flexibility to change work settings during their career.
SLPs have our own little community, on social media, special interest groups, and in person. Being an SLP makes you a part of a fellowship. While all communities have their ups and downs, I felt empowered being a part of the SLP world. SLPs have been supportive and helpful through the process of changing clinical settings, and opening up my digital content business. I have also cultivated wonderful friendships outside of work with other SLPs.
Neutral – Money
You’ll notice that money is listed as neutral, and this is for a strong reason. I don’t know what your financial goals are, the cost of living where you live, and what kind of lifestyle you aspire to lead.
For some clinicians, SLP can be a career that offers great income and financial opportunities. For others, it can feel like being an SLP was a poor financial decision, one that landed you in debt from grad school and has made it hard to move forward financially. If you live in a high cost of living area, it can seem like you’ll never own a home on an SLP salary. Not to mention, the median price of a home in the United States in 2022 was $428,000. The income of SLPs varies greatly across the United States and it doesn’t necessarily correlate with the cost of living.
ASHA reports median salary data annually and the geographic and setting data varies by quite a large range. For example, the median salary reported for SLPs in Louisiana working in the schools was $51,000 per year in 2022. In 2021, the median salary for a skilled nursing facility SLP was $91,000. That’s a huge difference in salary. Not to mention that $51,000 a year (or less since this is the median data) seems low for a field that requires a master’s degree to enter.
Whether you think money is a pro or con of being an SLP highly depends on the cost of living in your area. Lingering debt from grad school and the cost of entering the field is going to play another large factor.
The Cons of Being a Speech-Language Pathologist
Okay, so of course after the pros we have our cons. As I mentioned before, SLPs tend to be portrayed fairly positively by the media. Many of the pros and cons aren’t even written by SLPs. So let’s get into the real nitty gritty of what the bad sides are to being a speech pathologist from an SLP who has experienced the ups and downs of this career.
GRAD SCHOOL: The Cost, Time, & Competition
One of the more challenging things about being an SLP is becoming an SLP.
To be a licensed speech-language pathologist, you need to complete an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, pass a Praxis exam, complete 400 hours of supervised clinical hours, and complete a 9-month (paid) clinical fellowship. That’s an exhausting list of things to do to get a job.
On average, it takes 6 to 7 years of higher education to become an SLP, plus a 9-month clinical fellowship. The cost of those 6-7 years of education can be quite high, which leaves many students wondering “Is it worth it to become an SLP?” That’s a tricky question to answer. Not only do many SLPs graduate with six figures of debt (I graduated with $150k in debt in 2009) but there’s also an opportunity cost loss of not working and earning full-time income during the years that you are going to grad school.
Read more about the requirements here: How to become an SLP
Graduate school is also becoming more and more challenging to get into and becoming harder to afford. There is also reported to be an increase in anxiety, stress, and competition in the graduate programs. In undergrad, there is heavy pressure to maintain a high GPA for fear of getting rejected from grad school. In grad school, there may be fierce competition between students for grades, placements, and recommendations from professors.
Productivity & Caseload Requirements
The demands placed on clinicians to maintain productivity standards and caseload requirements are stressful and lead to burnout. In schools, you may be required to manage 80+ students over the year. SLPs in SNF deal with pressure to make rising productivity levels. Many clinicians are also required to travel to multiple locations in a single day.
While the work of an SLP is rewarding, the demands put on us by employers make it harder to find joy in our work. The associated politics and for-profit world of healthcare in the United States makes it harder to find jobs that don’t push the limits.
For Healthcare SLP’s: Working Weekends And Holidays
When I tell people that I’m an SLP and have to work Christmas, they look surprised.
“Why do people need speech therapy on Thanksgiving?” is a common phrase I’ve heard from family and friends.
But, it’s the truth. SLPs, like other medical employees, often have to be staffed 365 days a year. This means that you may have to take turns covering holidays and weekends.
It is also becoming increasingly difficult to secure time off as an SLP. Employers deny PTO requests or make it hard to use as it’s difficult and expensive to find SLPs to cover vacation leaves.
Always Having to be “On”
Speech-pathologists spend 80-90% of their days in direct patient care. We often even do our paperwork in front of our patients. During that care, we are with our clients and families through some very hard times. Whether you are more introverted or extraverted, it can be very emotionally and physically draining to always have to be “on” and doing direct 1-1 interactions.
Some days, you wake up and feel kinda crappy. Maybe you’re dealing with hardship in your own home life. Having to go to work, put everything in your own life aside, and be the rock of strength and support that your patients and families need can be a challenge.
To be honest, some days I wish I could just go to work and sit behind a computer where I don’t have to talk to anybody.
Pay Ceiling & Lack of Upward Mobility
Speech therapists primarily serve in one roll, and that is direct patient care.
I would wager that the reason most SLPs get into the field is to help others and do therapy. In fact, most SLPs tend to dislike things like the corporate hustle and bustle. They came into this field to avoid climbing a corporate ladder.
However, there can easily come a point in your SLP career where you yearn for that upward mobility, particularly an increase in pay. SLPs can max out their pay scale rather early in their career. It’s not uncommon for new graduates to make MORE money than seasoned SLPs, because raises are so small and uncommon. Employers have “raise freezes” that last indefinitely. At the maximum, therapists might get a 1-2% raise per year. Often, the only way to see an increase in pay is to leave one job and negotiate a higher wage at another.
In brief, being an SLP is not a career where you see large increases in your pay over time. Advancing to a management level SLP often means a slight increase in pay (at a salaried level) with more hours worked.
As mentioned above in the pro section, there are options for the entrepreneurial SLP to make money and grow a business as a side hustle or full-time gig. Many SLPs also work a second job during the nights or weekends to make extra money.
Lack of Respect
SLP are often kind individuals who want to help others. That kindness is often weaponized against us. By managers, administrators, coworkers, and even patients and their families. This goes hand in hand with a lack of respect for our professional recommendations and boundaries.
SLP find themselves pressured and gaslighted into doing more to be a “good SLP”. For instance, pressure from administration to work off the clock, bill unethically, keep patients on caseload longer than necessary, or discharge patients too early.
A big piece of advice that I have for new clinicians entering this field is to be prepared to be your own biggest self advocate. You’ll need to advocate for your patients. Anticipate that you will have to stand your ground and maintain your boundaries to administration, patients, and colleagues.
Though the con list is relatively short, you may wonder why burnout made the list. Working year-round, often on holidays and weekends, while maintaining high caseload and productivity numbers, with stagnant pay and lack of respect can lead to burnout.
A growing number of clinicians are reporting burnout and dissatisfaction with the field.
Any time I catch up with my graduate cohort from the class of 2009, most individuals I talk to express burnout in the field and working on a way to either work less or leave the field entirely. Facebook and Reddit forums are filled with SLPs who are ready to leave the field. While it’s true that people talk about the negative online a lot more than the positive, it is also important to realize that those negative opinions are valid and are held by a lot of individuals.
Hard To Transition Out Of Direct Treatment Or Advance Your Career
While burnout rises, it is also harder for clinicians to transition into roles that don’t include direct patient care. Or, if the clinician wants to leave the field altogether, it may be difficult to find a new career with such a specialized skill set. Unlike nurses, who have many options for non-bedside nursing, it is harder to find those options as an SLP.
Now that you made it to the bottom of the list, I would love to hear your thoughts! If you’re an SLP, add your own pros or cons to the list in the comments! 🙂
129 thoughts on “Pros And Cons Of Being A Speech-Language Pathologist”
Thanks for a great list!
You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!
Hi .. my daughter has done Masters in SLP from Uni of Iowa and is now working in a care center looking after terminal patients .. she does not have enough workload and seems frustrated after so many years of hard work and expensive education… she is serious of changing her career.. but i am still trying to coax her in continuing in the field.. do u really think there is no scope in this field ? Can u please advice .. your experience and inputs may be of invaluable help to her…
I recommend trying out various populations/settings before throwing in the towel. I LOVE my population and have more job offers than I can handle. But I’d be less enthused in almost any other setting
I like that you mentioned that speech pathologists have a flexible schedule. Like you said, they can offer a schedule that is appropriate for their clients. This is great news because my sister needs the service of a pathologist for her son. Her son still hasn’t talked even if he is five years old already. Since they are busy parents, they would be thrilled to know that they can choose a schedule that fits them.
I love what you said about flexibility being your favorite part of the profession. I think speech/language pathology is a vital service for those in need and it sounds like becoming one is a rewarding experience. My wife’s friend is considering becoming a speech pathologist, so I’ll be sure to share these benefits with her.
After you’re reading your article seem to be very genuine and your feelings to become an slp. For me though I think it’s too late I’m in my middle 60s and by the time I go through the process and graduate school etc I think I’d be way too old I’d be needing my help myself.
I think some of these cons aren’t unique to being an SLP (I worked another career before going back to school to become an SLP), and the field that I worked in often had few jobs that many times required moving to another (very remote) location, pay was frozen for *years* at a time, and if you wanted to earn more money, you pretty much had to become a manager and were fairly stressed out by all your supervisory responsibilities. No field is perfect, and I’ve met retired nurses who said they wouldn’t recommend people becoming nurses these days too. Until something gives with healthcare delivery in this country, lots of us are stuck fighting those battles. I guess I write this partly because I want to keep things in perspective and save it up for those days when I feel frustrated with work. 🙂
Yes very true! Every field has its pros and cons and no job is perfect.
Thank you so much for taking your time to share this information. I’m doing my first year in varsity doing SLP and this just motivated be to do my best because I had a few doubts but now I’m certain that this is exactly what I want to do
Thank you so much for this information! I am a junior getting my undergraduate degree right now in an unrelated field. However, I recently decided I want to pursue SLP. It is daunting to me to start applying to grad schools especially because I will likely have to take many prerequisites due to the fact my undergrad degree is in a completely different field. It is starting to look like I’d spend 3 or 3.5 years getting a masters and that’s hard to commit to when I always pictured it being 2. I still think that all of the pros make it worth it and I still want to do it. Thank you so much for posting this list, it was extremely helpful.
Best of luck on your journey! Glad that you found the article helpful 🙂
Just curious–how many contact hours do you typically have per week (with a patient) versus how many hours do you spend handling billing, treatment plan, progress reports, etc.? I’ve been an educator for 7 years and I can see how this is often half/half; wondering how teaching compares to SLP patient care.
Thanks for reading,
Hi thanks for the message! This really varies by setting – A LOT! I’ve never worked in schools, so I’m not sure what their schedules look like. In skilled nursing facilities, I’ve worked at places that have wanted me to spend up to 7.5 hours out of 8 indirect patient care (burn out central), with more average productivity being 6.5 hours out of 8. In hospitals, it’s been far less. I may spend half of my day in direct patient care and half with paperwork. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the response Julia! Just to clarify: what does ‘indirect patient care’ mean?
On a sidenote: You mentioned that you wound up with 90k in student loans… I’m concerned with ending up in debt, especially since I’m already 34 🙂 I hate to ask you for something so personal as a cost breakdown, but did you have to pay out-of-state tuition, for 2-3 years I’m guessing?
The cost of grad school is real. I applied to 6 schools and got into 1. It was a private school (relatively cheap for a private school – some are actually double that cost), but I wasn’t able to even consider an instate school as I didn’t get into any in state schools. Indirect patient care I would define as anything where you are not face to face with a patient. Such as family education, documenting, etc.
Hi Julie! You said you applied to 6 graduate schools and only got into 1 program. How did you do in your undergraduate program and/or GRE? How much of an impact do you think it had on being accepted into graduate school?
Hey, my undergrad GPA was low, 3.2 and I forget how I did on the GREs, maybe 70th ish percentile? I applied to graduate school in 2006 through when competition for schools was less. I don’t know if I would make it into any schools with the competition now with my undergrad GPA.I really can’t speak as to what is needed to get into grad school now because it’s become a lot harder. I think a good essay and communication skills during an interview process is always a win.
ARD paperwork is detailed and is basically a law document. I spent hundreds more hours than therapy on them, but as a perfectionist-type I got them right, mostly. Speaking fluent Spanish and being a man also helped getting into SLP. Good luck to you and you will help others!
Im a returning mom/student looking to try a communication disorders and sciences program at a state school for undergrad and then trying to pursue a Masters.
Im bilingual in Spanish and know some Mandarin as well.
Wondering, does have a language skill really help?
I am a sophomore in college, and I greatly appreciate this information! I’m looking into healthcare careers, and I am considering switching my major from dental hygiene to communication science disorders. One of the main reasons I considered switching was so I would have more career mobility. Do you know what the average pay for an SLP is? Any additional information would be greatly appreciated!
Hi average pay varies by a lot of factors. Your geographic location and setting that you’re working in are going to be some of the key determinants of pay. Here are the stats from a recent salary report nationally:https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/2017-SLP-Health-Care-Survey-Annual-Salary-Report.pdf
Thanks Julia for sharing your knowledge and experience not only to the Americans but the whole wide world. My son is studying in Scotland in the Biomedical Science. He’s thinking about specialising in the Speech Pathology. I’m not sure if he can do this. Your article will certainly provide him with some valuable information for him to think before taking his next steps.
Hi. I came across your article because I have been a speech pathologist for over 20 years (I experienced the “glory days”), but I haven’t practiced for the last three and was considering getting back in. While reading your pros and cons, all the good and bad memories came flooding back. You’re right, there is great satisfaction in improving the lives of people or “clients” (they are more than that when you become so involved in their care). I have worked in the hospitals, home health, outpatient, mostly SNF. But with me, the cons were overwhelming. Working holidays and weekends, salary freezes, unrealistic productivity goals, and insurance companies denying coverage or practically determining who you can evaluate, treat, and for how long. All this led to burnout. As you said, it can be difficult finding a job/career outside of the profession that will cater to such a specific skill set. I am currently a part-time supervisor at UPS, which doesn’t address any of my hard earned speech pathology skills. Me being three years outside of the profession, prospects currently don’t appear to be in my favor of practicing again, with the way healthcare and speech pathology is constantly changing.
I don’t intend to be doom and gloom. This is only my experience. Speech pathology is an excellent profession and I have pride in being one. But for those of you are considering to pursue, I greatly encourage you to shadow a clinician as often as possible. Ask them to be truthful particularly regarding those areas no one wants to talk about. Thank you.
Hi Howard, thanks for sharing your story, I think a lot of SLPs can relate to it. It is a horrible time to be working in healthcare and it pains me because there is also such a demand for SLPs to help patients. I can completely understand leaving the field and pursuing other options.
I’m late to the party here, but I appreciate your honesty about this job. I’ve been doing SLP for years too and have reached the point that I’m throwing in the towel and moving on elsewhere. Been there, done that—and the current working conditions only appear to be getting worse and more exploitative. Companies often complain how hard it is to “find” SLPs, but do they ever seriously consider why that is?
Yup! If they treated us well they wouldn’t always be searching for new hires.
Hi! My name is also Julia! I am a junior in high school and have really been feeling like I have been called to be a speech pathologist. I was wondering if you had to learn sign language to become a speech pathologist. Also if you have any other advise on what I can do now to help prepare for going into this profession, that would be deeply appreciated. Thanks so much!
Hi Julia! That’s exciting that you want to be an SLP. No, you don’t have to learn ASL to be an SLP. To prepare, I would recommend trying to shadow some local SLPs and really get a sense if this is a career that you want to go into or not. Once you start the educational journey to become an SLP, it is a long time and a lot of money, so you want to make sure that the job is for you.
I think it depends on the graduate program; I was just accepted to UW-Eau Claire’s master’s program, and sign-language is a requirement. What I mean is that it’s considered one of those post-bac’, leveling-type courses where even though I have my bachelor’s in CSD, it’s a skill they want their master’s program grads to have. You do, however, have the option to take it at basically any time throughout the graduate program.
I became interested on becoming a SLP due to having to experience first have the need for one. My child was diagnosed with speech language delay and articulation disorder at 2 yrs old, his speech was 0 words. It was hard for me to take this but thanks to a SLP and her dedication and patience he was able to start talking. He has come a long way and it has been such a beautiful experience for all involve to see the results. My child has giving me the motivation and inspiration to pursue this career. I know it will be a long journey but also well worth it and rewarding. I’m not worry about the pay I just wanted to be able to make a positive impact in the community and those who need it. I said to myself that I will not rush or worry about the length of time it will takes me to get there, I will just take it as it come and focus on my goal.
Thank you for sharing your story! Good luck on your journey to becoming an SLP!
Thanks Julia for sharing your knowledge and experience not only to the Americans but the whole wide world. My son is studying in Scotland in the Biomedical Science. He’s thinking about specialising in the Speech Pathology. I’m not sure if he can do this. Your article will certainly provide him with some valuable information for him to think before taking his next steps.
Thanks for your article. I am a grad student in Linguistics and I would like to switch to SPL. I am a non-native speaker of English and I was wondering if still there will be job opportunity for a non-native speaker compare to a native speaker. (Considering that I am in my 30s). And, how can I find any opportunity for shadowing or volunteering in the field to get more sense of the work.
Yes, there are job opportunities for non-native English speakers. To find volunteer opportunities, I recommend reaching out to local facilities where SLPs may work and inquire if they have volunteer opportunities.
What are the undergrad prerequisites? Anatomy? Phisio?
Here’s the list of the general undergrad courses (chem, bio, physics, etc): https://www.asha.org/Certification/Course-Content-Areas-for-SLP-Standards/ and then you’ll need CSD specific undergrad courses. The exact names of courses seem to vary a bit by the program, but he’s some general info:https://www.asha.org/Students/Planning-Your-Education-in-CSD/
Hi Julia! Thank you for writing this informative article. I’m planning to leave my field in Business (it’s an awful time with layoffs!). Before my position was eliminated, I was contemplating helping clients/patients. I love the SLP field, I had an SLP help me when I was in elementary school. One of my main concerns is trying to find a job as an SLPA. I noticed a lot of contract work on Indeed. Do school districts directly hire SLPAs as permanent support staff? Or is it always contractual? And do you know what SLPAs do in the summer? I worry that I would have to constantly hustle for a job every year. Thanks. 🙂
Hi, if you inquire with the school or DOE directly if they hire SLPAs. It costs money to put jobs on Indeed, so it’s more common to see a lot of agency jobs there (who can pay for the advertising) versus the direct hires who might only list the job on their own website. Summers you may have an option to do a summer school program, depending on the district.
Hi! My name is also Julia! I am junior in high school and really feel like SLP is the field for me. I have shadowed three different environments, an elementary school, disability school, and a private clinic. I was fascinated with what the speech pathologists were doing and really see myself in this field. I was wondering, if you could go back and do it again, would you still become a speech pathologist? After reading this article and some of the comments I became a little concerned that I might want to get out of the field after years of practicing, but since it is so specialized there isn’t much to do with this degree.
Hey Julia! Personally, I don’t regret becoming an SLP, but I’m the type of person who thinks that everything happens for a reason and lives with no regrets. I have pivoted my career quite a bit, but I took it upon myself to learn new skills (web design, marketing, content creation, etc) that could make me marketable in a new field. I think it’s never too late to learn something new if you want to switch careers.
Hi, coming from a second year graduate student, I would recommendNOT joining the field. I was very disillusioned into what the field would actually believe. I was told that job opportunities were everywhere and changing populations was easy. However, this cannot be further from the truth. I am still only a student and am already burnt out. I have no joy thinking about SLP related stuff anymore. I would seriously consider choosing another field. I am stuck now, but you do not have to be. I wish someone told me this before I got into it.
Hey julia!i currently have an undergrad in psychology.can i apply for slp masters or postgraduate school🙆♀️
Yes, you can.
Hi Julia! I was just wondering if you think SLPAs will be needed more in the coming years due to high caseloads for SLPs?
I think it will depend a lot on the individual state and what the scope of practice is for assistants there. Maybe in the schools there could be increased demand.
Hey Julia! I’m Chrislyn .I’m currently in situation where I’m confused about my career. I have two career options in mind ie nursing or ASLP. I currently live in India and have to do my bachelors degree here but I would love to work abroad. Will you please suggest which course has more scope or any other field that is demanding . I would highly appreciate you replying back. Thanks!
I think nursing will always have a lot more needs than therapy
Nursing is demanding and has its challenges just like SLP. However, I have nurse friends who started out as nurses in skilled nursing facilities and were able to branch out into other related careers without a pay cut (case management, clinical education, etc). This is not the case with SLP. I have to be blunt and say you will not be able to branch out without a pay cut and a frustrating amount of effort.
Hello, I am currently doing my undergrad. I am majoring in Early Childhood Education and Minoring in Communications I have been looking into becoming a Speech Pathologist. Would I be able to transition into grad school to become a speech pathologist with the different degrees I am currently working on?
Thank you in advance
Yes, you can. You would need to take all of the prereq courses that the CSD undergrad program has, so grad school might take an extra semester or year.
Thank you for the informative article.
I am a retired SLP, having worked in 14 elementary schools over the course of 31 years in a public school system. The best parts of my job were working with kids and having incredible flexibility with my hours. However, the absolute worst thing was the huge amount of paperwork. I spent hours at home, well into each night, writing IEPs, evaluations and progress reports. Since I left the profession, I’m told it’s gotten worse, with all the required government forms needed. The limited salaries of school SLPs truly doesn’t match the cost of student loans (that most people incur) or the amount of personal UNPAID time needed to complete required paperwork. When my job became 80% paperwork and 20% actually working with kids, it was time to retire.
Yes, the paperwork is terrible and it’s only getting worse!
I’d like to make it clear to everyone planning to go into Speech Therapy vs. OT or PT you need to know the facts. SLP’s are asked to take at least twice as many children at a time in schools and often more so leading to double the paper work. Nursing homes are terrible when you are literally asked to work twice as hard as PT or OT to reach the same productivity levels. Speech typically given only 30 minutes and the others 60. PT and OT often treat together or have two patients going at the same time. Treatment times are only 30 minutes for them in reality but they get to bill 60. After 8 patients that is literally 4 hours to do paper work and other task that you do not have. PT directors and corporations refuse to see the truth and instead will try to make you feel guilty for taking even more patients and doing twice the paperwork. Insane! Turnover rate on average 6 months to a year or less in many places. SLP’ s are too timid to fight back or are afraid complaints will fall on deaf ears. Get ready to find a polite excuse for leaving job after job because you want a good reference and hope for greener pastures. All I can say is you have to stand up to productivity comparisons between the disciplines as an SLP or choose to be a PT or OT where things are still possible to complete. I have been an SLP for 27 years and sadly I see a bleak future for the profession and advise students to choose another discipline.
I appreciate your honest feedback about the reality of the SLP profession. After speaking to many SLPs in the field, these are all common complaints, unfortunately. I came out of a clinical environment where I worked on a team with PTs and decided not to go that route because of the high amount of time spent off the clock doing paperwork and keeping up with government demands.
As of now, I just completed my undergraduate work in CSD and am contemplating going forward with the SLP graduate program from what I discovered through research on current and future issues within the field. I agree with what has been said on this forum, there is no perfect job. However, the changes that need to be made in order to improve the profession are daunting.
Do you have any plans on leaving the field? If so, are you aware of any career options that could be a good alternative?
Hi, there have been SLPs who’ve left and joined the tech industry. Tech companies (at least more established ones) tend to be very generous with their benefits and time off, it seems, and the progressive ones treat their employees better. There are roles that would benefit from our people-centric abilities and analytical skills, whether it’s in entry-level support jobs or even UX (user experience). Hardcore tech skills aren’t necessary. For me, I’m moving on to a new support job at a successful tech company with hopes of learning the ropes and eventually working my way up. If you Google it, there are some articles out there from an SLP who is doing UX, if anyone is curious for more info.
yes, I work SNFs, too, and fully agree. Also, you don’t see PT and OT doing without therapy materials, either.
Thank you so much for giving your input on the field!
I’m kind of at a crossroads in terms of what I want to specialize in healthcare and came across your post after some researching. I have been looking into Speech Pathology for quite some time now and have been looking at both grad schools and community colleges to apply for a SLPA, and using that towards grad school later (I was told that it takes more time to get through school, but a slightly cheaper option).
But I also was pressured (especially by family) to pursue nursing, and given the opportunity for various reasons, I can basically get both my BSN and a potential MSN for little to no cost (my current workplace is offering to provide it for me).
I am almost done with my BS in Health Science, but if given the opportunity to switch I would need to right away.
I know, ultimately, the decision is entirely up to me. But I am wanting to gain perspective in the eyes of professionals with experience. In your opinion, which has the better career growth and success in the field, and which would you have chosen, if you were in my shoes?
Hi, thanks for reaching out! That’s definitely a tough question. I don’t regret my decision to become an SLP, but now looking back, I can see so many more ways to advance your career in the nursing field, including more opportunities for non-clinical roles. I hope you can find what is best for you.
Hi, thanks for such valuable pieces of information.
I am an English and ESL teacher who is thinking about switching to SLP. I wonder if I have to take any pre-requisites on chemistry, math, biology or science . Also, how long it takes to pass these pre-requisites.
Hi check out the ASHA website for the prereq requirements:https://www.asha.org/certification/course-content-areas-for-slp-standards/. How long it takes will depend on how many credit hours you take a semester.
Great reading with your insight in to the industry.
I was thinking of this as a career change from Logistics and I recently just finished my Cert III & Cert IV in Personal Training that taught me a lot about exeercise but the contact with big groups and instructing was not for me and also the pay is fairly low.
I was looking at a career as a Speech Pathologist here in Australia but I am not sure about what is required in terms of a starting point as for one I am a male and this is seems to be a profession heavily dominated by females which is fine but I feel a little out of place.
The other issue is that I am 36 so I do not have a recent ATAR score to use as an entry in to a Uni Course so I’d have to start with another course I guess and them maybe transfer if my grades were good enough.
What would you suggest ?
Thank you in advance.
Hi, I’m a US-based SLP and am not familiar with the AUS requirements – I don’t have any suggestions here, maybe contact an AUS based University or your licensing board.
I am currently a freshman in college studying psychology but am also looking into switching to communications science. Would you say becoming a speech pathologist could possibly be easier (due to less schooling) and/or be a more useful degree in long term with finding a job?
Hi I don’t know anything about the psychology regs or job market so I can’t answer this one.
You did not provide a field to compare SLP to, so this is difficult. A bachelors in psychology will not get you a career; it’s like getting a bachelors in history or any other liberal science. You will need a PhD in psychology to become a psychologist and acceptance rates are very low. SLP in the US requires a masters in a very specific program and acceptance rates are very low. Both fields require clinical placements and state licensure.
Do you if someone only needed to work parttime it would negate a lot of the cons? Also , what are the best settings for parttime & control over your schedule? I was thinking maybe home health?
Part-time work does negate a lot of the cons. If you don’t need benefits or a certain number of hours a week it can be a lot less stressful. You can work part-time pretty much anywhere (maybe except schools). SNFs might be the easiest to find part-time work.
I’m in college now and trying to figure out what I want to do. This was a nice post with good insight, thank you 🙂
I am currently a ESE teacher that is also interested in becoming a SLP. I believe all jobs has pros and cons, however I see no growth with being a teacher and the way education is today I wouldn’t suggest anyone to study or become a teacher unless you are retire and looking to work again. SLP has been a career of interest and I just need help with opinion on which healthcare career has growth base on my experience background and which would you have chosen?
I totally understand where you are coming from there. I don’t regret becoming an SLP at all, but I likely won’t continue to work as an SLP for more than another 5 years, due to the lack of growth available within the field. If you are looking for a field with growth potential in healthcare check out nursing. You can start with a BSN and grow in many different ways both clinically and non clinically.
Thank you for sharing your insight and expertise on the pros and cons of the SLP profession. You mentioned that you may leave the SLP field in a few years. What are your plans? Will you be going back to school?
I recently finished my B.A. in CSD and am applying to SLP graduate programs. After a lot of research and speaking to other SLP practitioners, I am at the crossroads, with less confidence in the direction I originally planned. Currently, I’m looking into career alternatives that might be a better option or if not, at least feel good that I explored all options before committing myself to the financial and time constraints of the graduate program. If you can, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still really passionate about the SLP field. So much so, I have many ideas on areas that I want to explore, e.g., improving on multicultural/multilingual practices and clinical tools, writing children’s and parenting books, focusing on research gaps (if you know any that you feel are the most critical, please share if you will), and even studying the effectiveness of manual therapies for speech disorders (I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist with 20 years experience).
Thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing from you.
It’s impossible for me to suggest if SLP is going to be a good fit for a person or not. There are SLPs who absolutely love their jobs and those who don’t. I try to provide education about the ups and downs to give people a general idea of some of the benefits of the field and setbacks. It sounds like you have good knowledge about what the field is like and what you would be going into.
For me personally, I would leave the field to pursue entrepreneurship and my more creative marketing/writing/photography/design side. I wouldn’t go back to get another degree.
Thanks for your comment! I appreciate your honesty and understand your perspective. Blindly steering a person in any particular direction without getting to know them would not be wise.
Prior to beginning the CSD program, I knew very little about the SLP field and discovered how complex it really is. I continue to learn more through my own research and have found it most helpful to reach out to seasoned SLPs in the field to get the reality, so thank you so much for sharing this article with us!
It is saddening to hear that you will be leaving the field, but I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Your ideas sound very intriguing to me since I love writing and photography! Btw, are you in Hawaii?
Hi, I currently am highly considering SLP. I worked with ASD children for 3 years, this is how I discover D SLP. I recently discovered SLP assistant, I was wondering what you thought of becoming an SLPA and then SLP, is it worth it or should I just go straight into an SLP program?
The SLP A requirements vary by state so it’s hard to say overall. Mostly, I think it’s only “worth it” to be an SLP A if you already have an undergraduate degree in CSD.
I’m confused. One of the pros you mentioned — slp’s having a flexible schedule — directly contradicts one of your cons, where you say that slp’s have to work weekends and holidays, and have to be working 365 days a year.
Yes, this is a very generalized list for the field and includes the pros/cons of different settings that can conflict with each other. The flexibility will depend on the setting you are working in and their job requirements.
I have been accepted into grad school for Fall 2021. I want to work with elderly, Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, aphasia, and dysphasia specifically. I’m concerned I won’t be prepared to deal with dysphasia because everything I read says SLPs are not adequately taught how to treat or even assess dysphasia. Furthermore, grad schools don’t offer a lot of classes (1-2) in swallowing/feeding. Will you tell me your experience with dysphasia, the amount seen in caseloads, and how you trained yourself on it if applicable, as well as information on FEES and MBS (such as how to get specialized in these during grad school). I am also concerned because there is a lot of negative reviews on skilled nursing facilities. Because I want to work with the geriatric population, what are my options for different settings and comparisons for acute care and SNF? I do not want to work in a school setting be sure that’s not the population that interested me in SLP to begin with and doesn’t include the people with disorders I want to work with, nor the geriatric population. The disorders I’m interested in occur more in adults and geriatrics. However, it sounds like I may potentially do more direct patient work with students in schools than at hospitals, acute care, SNF due to paperwork? That’s concerning to me about the limited therapy session times, insurance and companies dictating specifics for clients, and I’ve heard there are ethical issues in SNF.
Hi I think you have a lot of valid concerns. In my opinion, we don’t get enough training on dysphagia in grad school(1-2 courses) and it leaves us ill-equipped to handle our cases and scrambling for CEUs to teach us. The best advice I can give to you as a grad student is to work to get clinical placements in more acute settings (acute care, inpatient rehab) where you will get exposure to more acute dysphagia cases and maybe some MBSS or FEES shadowing. FEES you have to learn via private courses and MBSS is more or less taught on the job.
I think you mean dyspaGia (swallowing problems) and not dysphaSia (an old term for aphasia). Be aware that all settings (schools, outpatient, hospitals, skilled nursing) require lots of paperwork to be done. Also, in many case 30 minutes is often too much time if you are working with a seriously ill adult patient. If you interested in geriatrics, you will be looking at outpatient or skilled nursing (I’m not including hospitals since you will likely have to see adults and/or peds in that setting also). Be aware that adult outpatient usually does not accept CFs or newly certified/licensed SLPs (same for hospitals). Also be aware that I’ve seen or heard about ethical issues in all settings. As far as dysphagia education, I would recommend doing grad school placements in skilled nursing and hospitals to become more comfortable with dysphagia eval/treat. To be brutally honest, you’re not going to get a ton of education on any particular subject in grad school. Most of your education will come from clinical placements.
This is a great article and obviously there is a lot of interest about the fields. I have been an SLP for 30 years. There are pros and cons in this job for sure. I have worked in a variety of settings: Hospitals, rehabs, snfs, schools, private practice, etc. I think it is what you make it. Is it stressful…sure it is…is it amazing to help people communicate and/or eat again…yes! That is what brings me into work everyday. I was a clinical dysphagia specialist in the hospitals (I had no grad courses in this area. I learned on the job), Grad school gives you the foundation skills in all areas that we work in, it is up to you and your interest level to seek out further training (which is required by ASHA to obtain CEUs to keep your certification beyond your Masters). I love the flexibility of the field. When I had children I went into the schools for my family. I don’t know many professions that have that flexibility. Not teachers! I have worked full time, part time, per diem! Whatever I needed in my life at the time. The academic rigor is difficult. The loans stink. The stress is an issue for sure, but for many SLPs I know…we are still doing the job because we love what we do and have helped a lot of people young and old! I am now an entrepreneur, blogger, and soon to be a published children’s book author all because I am an SLP! Good luck!
Thanks for the inspiring words! What a remarkable career and congrats on the book!
I just read your post and all the comments, because you guessed it, I’m looking in to becoming an SLP. However, I’m really on the fence. I’m “old” for a student, 31 to be exact. I have two children already, and the oldest had ASD. This led me to go back to school a few years ago and study ASL and become an interpreter. I’m due to begin the program this fall but I’m having huge second thoughts. I’m not exactly “passionate” about my current plan, so I’ve been exploring SLP, English for teaching or continuing ASL.
Honestly, I’m not sure what to do. I feel so old already, and I’m worried the demand of school for an SLP BA and then on to grad school would be unattainable in my current situation. Advisors are helpful but not much, because as many people mentioned above, nobody REALLY tells you what school programs are like, and to be completely frank, I’m worried I’m not “smart” enough. As a woman and a mother, there is a lot of unspoken pressure to be a superhero. Not only would I be a student but I’m a: disabilities parent/wife/mom/chef/cleaning lady etc etc, and do it all with a smile. You get the picture. Obviously, anything is possible if you want it! But I’m a realist over here and I’m hesitant to take the leap because it will be unrealistic. I have meetings next week with three colleges, all for the degrees I mentioned, and I’ve been doing a lot of research about the SLP field, but it’s hard to know what to do at my age.
Do you have any honest opinions to share? I not exactly a “type a” but I’ve never been bad at school. I’m terrible at math and I haven’t been in a science class in years but I never hated it. My current GPA is ok, 3.52, but is this a silly pipe dream? Any advice is happily accepted.
Thanks for your post
31 definitely isn’t old to go back to school! I think going to school in your 30s has lots of advantages, you have life experiences, maturity, interpersonal skills, and a clearer vision of what you want in your career. Those things can all help you in your application and make you a good candidate for grad school since you know what you want. If you want to pursue being an SLP, grad school is really the way to go. Depending on where you live, there might be more options for SLPAs, but it’s hard to say.
Thanks for responding! I definitely am interested in the field, and being a mom with a little on the spectrum (I see in my previous post I said “had” and not “has ASD”), communication is an interesting aspect. I’ve looked in to the programs in my area and there is only the one, an SLP BA and then on to the MA if accepted. I guess I’m just curious about the BA classes. They sound interesting! In your opinion, do you think someone needs a really “scientific” or “mathematical” mind to be successful? It’s not exactly med school but it feels intimidating!
No, you don’t need a scientific or mathematical mind to be successful in the field. Also, if you already have a BA, you don’t need the speech one to get accepted into grad school. You can apply to grad school as a non-major and the grad program will help you get the undergrad and prereq credits you need. It takes longer and depends on which courses you already have.
I actually do not have a BA, I was accepted to my undergraduate this coming fall, but I’ve been really interested in SLP! Thank you so much for your feedback, I really appreciate it! I’ve reached out to many people recently and I’ve not had much luck. Thank you!!
I really appreciate your article as I’m researching SLP as my second career. In the same vein as what Rachel was asking, being 41 with 2 little kids and feeling like my brain isn’t where I’d like it to be, I’m concerned if I can be successful not only in the field, but, to start, in the actual curriculum. You said you don’t need a scientific or mathematical mind to be successful in the field, but what about in the schooling? What is the grad school curriculum like, not in terms of a class list, but more in terms of the rigor? Thanks in advance for your help.
Hey, it’s a tough 2 years and challenging curriculum.
I am currently in College for speech pathology and it’s insane in the area of competition. The New York colleges were very honest with me as I am only taking prereqs. They said if my GPA isn’t high (meaning that I basically need a B+ or higher in everything (which I do) then you’re out. You won’t be accepted into the MA programs. Luckily, my GPA is very high but I see so many students with all the hopes and dreams in the world of becoming a speech pathologist but simply don’t have an absurdly high GPA. They’re literally wasting their time and I know that sounds brutal but it’s the truth. My friend just got an 82% on a massive test. A highly impressive score considering the magnitude of the exam. I had to remind her that in the SLP world, she failed, because that’s not a B+. Now she’ll have to get a higher score to balance that low score out. It’s an insane way to have to think, but it’s true. Every major test could potentially ruin your entire career in SLP.
Hi Mark, I am currently looking to go back to school to finish pre-req to apply for my masters. I too am applying to nyc schools (queens, Brooklyn) do you think I’m wasting my time if my cumm for bachelors is a 3.3? I will be going back to take the classes needed to apply for a masters, but during undergrad I was working full time as I was supporting myself and my gpa is certainly not where I would like it to be. I know it’s extremely competitive. I’m 26 and have a daughter so I think this would be perfect for me, but I don’t want to waste my time.
ASHA has a section of their website that provides average GPAs of students accepted into grad programs broken down by school. I received my masters about 5 years ago and a 3.6 GPA was considered the low end.
As an SLP with 15 years of experience in a variety of medical settings (Skilled nursing, acute rehab, outpatient rehab), I’d like to offer some advice to all those considering this field. This was the perfect field for me- I’m a huge nerd. I loved it. If I was independently wealthy and could volunteer as an SLP, I would do this until I was too old to work! I left the field this year. The demands of the job have changed so much. Unless you get very lucky, you are a “work horse” there to make as much money as possible for your employer. You get a 30 minute unpaid lunch break and 15-30 minutes to get all of your documentation completed, contact physicians, call families, etc. In an SNF setting, it would be even less. I worked at least 6-8 hours unpaid each week. My friends in the schools are constantly working from home in the evenings. I may go back some day of the working conditions improve, but I’m much happier working a boring non-SLP job now!
This is really said. It’s not that clinicians get burned out of therapy, it’s the system.
I have been in the field for 25 years and yes it has allowed me to move around but despite my experience and expertise my pay has not increased in the last 10 years. Not so for the cost of living. I opened my own private practice which was starting to take off but took a big hit with COVID. That seems like the only avenue to actually getting paid my true value. To employers you are a license number. Each year SLP’s have a new area that is considered our area of knowledge and expertise and yet our pay does not reflect our ever expanding skill set. How much of that is because it is a predominantly female field?
Yes, it seems like so many of us reach a pay cap very early in our careers and can’t even get a COL increase annually. PP seems the way to go if you want to get paid your worth, but comes with other challenges. Best of luck to you!
Hello! I really appreciate this post. I am an SLPA with four years of experience. My current salary is $53k and I was just accepted into grad school. I am debating whether to remain and SLPA or to move forward with becoming an SLP. I am 30 years old and having a child is a major priority to me right now. Is it possible to be pregnant your first year of school? Will my professors be upset? Also-is it financially worth it to take on $50k worth of debt (on top of undergrad loans -$70k total) ? I have many SLP friends in schools that are so burnt out! My SNF friends are jam packed with patients. I am starting to think remaining a salaried SLPA would be a safer option. I live in WA state. I would love to hear any advice on becoming a mom while in school and if the job is worth the stress.
Hi, from reading the comments, i came to a conclusion that SLPA means Assitant correct?
Do you mind sharing what course are needed for this? I iust went back to school and im interested in a job as an assistant in the school setting
I am a SLPA with over 25 years experience. I began with a special credential and waivers to work as a Language Speech and Hearing Specialist, where I was authorized to perform the duties of the SLP, in various school districts. I have worked in schools, early intervention and private practice. I can tell you, as a SLPA, I have the best part of the job. I do all the therapy, the SLP at schools are in meetings, doing assessments, and reports. Private practice, they worry about the money. Research all potential employers. I work as a traveler through agencies and am paid 2-3 times more than being a direct employee. Even not being a traveler you still get paid more than working directly for a school district. At the end of the day, I leave and don’t take work home. I receive benefits and am very appreciated. An SLP working through an agency gets paid very well paid. There is always a job that needs to be filled. If I get my masters, I would triple my income and would take short term assignments to have flexibility in my schedule. Some agencies help with paying student loans. Research the agencies. Look at reviews fm professionals who have worked with those agencies. That will help you know good fm bad ones. I do have unique experience, being essentially the SLP in school districts and accumulating knowledge and experience being able to work at many settings and locations. Acquire as much knowledge and experience as possible, with a variety of populations. You will be more marketable to agencies. I hope this helps. I’m older, that’s the only reason for the hesitation to get my masters. Also, you must have a passion for this. My passion is with children. Especially early intervention and pre-school. I love autism and functional communication. Be a team player, but stand up for yourself, don’t be a doormat. One thing being a contractor as a SLP or SLPA, a good agency will have your back and if you are being mistreated, they will intervene. I hope this helps. I wish I had this information when I began my career. Good luck!
@ SLPA Marie- you “do all the therapy?” Did you mean that literally? Because I find it hard to believe that is typical for our professions.
I am an SLP in a WA state elementary school. I have 62 kids on my caseload, and 24 of them require “extensive support” (ASD, ID, Behavior Disorders, etc.). This means they typically take more time, effort and energy than the gen-ed kids typically do.
I was assigned a SLPA two days per week. She does sessions with 20 of the 62 kids on my caseload, and none of them are the extensive needs kids. So my assistant does not do all the therapy. How many kids are you responsible for?
In addition to therapy and all it entails, also “case manage” 22 students. This means I write yearly reports (IEP reviews, re-evaluations, etc) which can take hours, as well as coordinate and lead the child’s IEP team meeting, which can also take hours.
In my 27 years in the profession, I have worked with every population and in every setting except early intervention. Working in public schools, especially elementary, has been the hardest and least rewarding. If you love kids and working on language and speech skills,
my advice would be to be a SLP-A.
I am still a first year student and I am looking more into becoming an SLP I am currently a Biology major and I wanted a back up career because lets just say things are not going the way I thought they would. My plan is to stick with Bio and try Med school and if I don’t get in, go and become an SLP. My question would be is Biology a good major to follow in order to be an SLP, and what are things I could do as an undergrad student?
Bio would be a good major because it covers a lot of the science prereqs you would need for grad school. Here’s some info from our national org about undergrad considerations:https://www.asha.org/students/planning-your-education-in-csd/#undergraduate
Many master programs do not accept students who do not have a bachelors in CSD/SLHS. You would then need to undergrad classes in CSD/SLHS after receiving your bachelors in biology in order to be considered for a SLP grad school program.
Hi Julia, I’m currently in year 2 of my undergrad in speech pathology in Australia. I fell in love with speech pathology in my first year because all I’ve ever wanted is a job where I can make a profound difference in others’ lives. The pay and other cons is not a concern for me…However I have heard progress in therapy is extremely slow and it is common place to not see changes in most patients. Can you please tell me what has been your experience of how long improvement takes and is improvement common and what areas of practice you see the most improvement? I’m concerned because I just feel although being able to communicate is so important and every patient is different and has different levels of motivation, if I don’t see improvement regularly in many clients, if it will satisfy my need I’m making a difference. Thank you, MK 🙂
Hi, it really depends on the client population that you’re working with and why they have a communication disorder. For example, if I’m working with a new stroke patient, I might see significant progress in the first month of therapy. If a patient still has deficits a year after a stroke, I might see no or very slow changes.
Thank you, that helps!
If you are working with an adult who had a stroke, the majority of the time they either cannot or will not cooperate with therapy. When someone does not cooperate with therapy, there will be no progress. If you’re in the US, management will likely force you to continue therapy with these patients.
Wow. I’m glad I stumbled upon this article. I’ve been a Montessori teacher for 15 years and the love of helping others through speech pathology is sparked. I’m 34 and currently pregnant with my 1st child, hoping to make more money after staying home a bit and have a flexible schedule but the time and cost of the masters is intimidating. The competitive factors and hours of paperwork mentioned makes this less interesting. I’ve been in the business of helping others my whole life and I thought SLP would be my next step but now it’s rather daunting and sounds less rewarding. Maybe the system will get better over time. Thanks for all the info!!
I know this response may be a little late – I doubt that the system will get better over time. When I started in the field in the mid to late 90s, the field was demanding and at the time had considerable paperwork. I took some time off to raise my kids. When I returned to the field 14 years later it was unbelievably worse!! I am expected to see more kids on my caseload, with very complex challenges and the paperwork has tripled. Due to the complexity and the added legality of the paperwork, meetings can run for hours. The state I work in has just recently increased our paperwork demand, during a pandemic when our work has already been very stressful. I do not see the system changing for the better. I am looking for any possible way to get out of the field.
I recently graduated from SDSU majoring in SLP with GPA 3.7.
applied for my masters degree in 11 different schools but got denied in most of them and i don’t know why.
i don’t want to waste another year to re-apply again so i was thinking of working on my license to become an SLPA and reapply next year for my SLP.
but i heard that working as an SLPA will affect my masters and i won’t get accepted in any masters program because of that, do you know if this is true or not?
Hi I’ve thought the opposite where working in the field as a SLPA is good for applications.
Did you get accepted into any of the grad programs? My daughter is at SDSU in her Junior year, Pre SLP.
I am planning on majoring in speech therapy but will get married at the beginning of my third year, I was wondering if I’ll be able to commit and complete the degree.
Is it really tough and does it require a lot of time?
I completed both a BA and MA in SLP while being married. I think any degree program requires time and patience.
I’m a traveler because I got tired of having my vacations cancelled last minute by work due to lack of coverage. I’m looking at using my skills doing something else entirely because the field is just so abusive. I actually had to fight for my lunch today because the scheduler gave me back to back evaluations all day. I cannot eat while evaluating patients. I’m diabetic. Lunch is not optional. The only joy in my job has come from helping people but you can find that satisfaction doing so many things. I’d like to press the reset button and not be an SLP thank you.
I’m happy to have found your comment because I feel the same way. Unlike most SLPs, I worked in another field prior to being a SLP (my former field is not considered a skilled field and it was low paying). I had far better treatment in my former field including affordable health care, no weekends or holidays, PTO that I was actually able to use, lunch and 2 short breaks everyday, my employer matched my 401K contributions, and I was never guilt tripped for using the restroom or being out sick. I don’t have any of this with SLP. I’ve seen way too many toxic work places with SLP and abuse from my manager and my CF supervisor. I’ve also found that most SLPs will agree to whatever unprofessional or unethical behavior that management requests in order to continue receiving a paycheck. On top of this, my hours are inconsistent and not that much higher than my previous job since I am paying off student loans. At this point, I’m done and I’d rather be unemployed than continue to destroy my mental health and self esteem.
Sadly people have no idea about this field. The cons of being an SLP FAR outweigh the pro’s. Their is a terrible dark side not mentioned here of constant pressure and even being fired if you refuse to compromise your ethics to make someone else rich. Don’t walk run !!!!!!
hi, I am a highschooler and I want to be SLP. I am thinking of studying in my home country India. I am not very smart so I cant attend top college so I would be attending an average good college. So if I want to work in US, will it be easy to get a job? since I am not from a top college, will it be hard for me ? or will they only look at marks and volunteer etc?
To be a SLP in the US, you will need a masters degree from a SLP program. There are very specific courses that are required to be accepted into a masters program and I am not sure how this would play out since your bachelors would be from India.
I am currently an SLP (worked medical and schools) 3 years post finishing my CFY….. If you want any advice it would be do NOT go into the field of speech pathology. So hard to get out once you feel the burnout. Do yourself a favor and go into IT, tech, business, etc. Something that you can truly transfer skills and change around your career…. I can currently be an SLP in a variety of settings but if I want a non client facing position/desk job for a change I am SOL. Also we don’t get paid nearly enough for the time/energy/effort we put in, and largely we are forgotten about/pushed aside in the majority of settings.
You have no idea what you are recommending. The cons of being an SLP far outweigh the pro’s. Their is a terrible dark side not mentioned here of constant pressure and even being fired if you refuse to compromise your ethics to make someone else rich.
I’ve been an SLP for almost 25 years. Back in the “good old days” the productivity expectations were manageable and the documentation was brief (and we actually wrote our notes, no lap tops to carry around). I was able to spend an hour session with patients and really able to help them progress. It’s a different world now. I’m sad to say that it’s going to continue to get worse in health care. There’s no way it will get better with all the cuts in reimbursement. I used to love being an SLP. I can’t say that anymore. It’s exhausting to go to work everyday, not feeling appreciated or like I’m really making a difference in people’s lives anymore. And there will always be documentation that it due, to complete at home after an already exhausting day.
Be prepared to switch gears if you end up in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) to discover you now have fluctuating income .
It is rare deal to get a guaranteed salary position because the majority of the Rehab companies housed within skilled nursing facilities pay you by the hour , One week the SNF caseload is full of patients and you are working full time . Then as weeks progress the caseload shrinks and your paycheck reflects the # of hours you actually work covering a suddenly small caseload. Imagine being told “gee I’m sorry the rehab caseload is low this week so we don’t need you the full 6 hours today” My paycheck would drop to half or lower.
What are the solutions? Search for per diem work , get a back up part time job for times like these?
To financially survive I shifted into the school system and after 20 years have 3200k monthly pension plus I do some per diem work in the SNFs.
English Language Learning Teachers (EL) follow a similar method of goals and objectives / skill measurements with students that we use in schools. This could be an easier field to get into and there jobs popping up often –
If you are making 53K as a SLPA I would NOT go to grad school to become a SLP!!! I am only making 60K right now as a SLP. This is the most I have ever made and do not see a future of making any more than this. The field is very limiting and becoming more stressful each year. I wish I would have left the field long ago when I was younger. I would not recommend the field to anyone. As an SLP you have to have specific knowledge in a lot of different areas and are not compensated very well for that diverse knowledge and skill set. Save your time an money!
Interesting article. I have been in the field for 26 years. Other cons I would add to the list are workplace bullies and toxic environments, along with potential employers who often do not describe the work culture accurately, and promote bad managers. High productivity expectations are ridiculous no matter the setting. If I could count all of my unpaid time, I would be a millionaire, possibly a billionaire. Yes, I did some charity cases for individuals who had no insurance. That was my choice to assist. However, many workplaces also take advantage. I had one facility who didn’t pay me for evaluations completed, and another who lied about amount of salary. No one has ever talked about this. No one talks about the horrid conditions of home health, and the terrible distances to be traveled with 100% productivity still expected. ASHA should legally protect us in the field, but they don’t. It’s been more about the politicalization of popular topics, while we continue to suffer on the job. Currently, I am sitting out, resting, and wondering what to do with my career. I am an independent contractor. I was planning to retire in 5 years. Now the government has raised retirement age to 67, with talk of possibly raising it to 70 years of age. My advice: don’t do a 401k. Set yourself up with an IRA. And be mindful, that everytime you switch an SLP job, you will lose money.
The part about becoming a specialist resonates with me! It takes some extra training and work, but it gives you an expertise and can be really rewarding.
My son is 26 and on the Autism spectrum. He is high functioning but still struggles with things we all take for granted. He graduated with honors from California State University, Northridge, with his Bachelors in Communications Disorders and has become an SLPA with a school district nearby. The reason I am writing is to encourage those of you who feel it may be too difficult to study this curriculum. It is not an easy major. The classes are difficult but not TOO difficult to pass. My son enjoys being an SLPA. His pay is $30 an hour. He is considering going for his Master’s to become and SLP. He is blessed that his Master’s program would be funded by the state. However, I worry that the stresses and the multi tasking may be too much for him. He is quite context as an SLPA and enjoys doing the therapy for the students. He went into this field because he himself has 9 years of speech therapy growing up and it made a world of difference in his young life. Now he wants to help others. The case load in the schools is very high. However, it seems the SLP has much more stress than he does. And he is off 3 months of the year because of breaks and holidays. There are not many careers where a worker gets 3 months off a year, besides being a teacher. The Master’s program is 3 years long at the same university that he received his Bachelor’s degree and costs $53K. I have heard that there is a lot of stress and burnout from SLP’s in the schools. But in his case, being as SLPA is fairly simple. And he likes it!