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Pros And Cons Of Being A Speech-Language Pathologist

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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?

As somebody who has been practicing for 10 years, I can think of a lot of pros and a lot of cons. I’ll start with the positives and if you feel the need to keep on reading, you can read the cons.

The Pros of being a Speech-Language Pathologist…

a speech-language pathologist doing articulation therapy with a little girl

Make A Difference In People’s Lives

THIS is what keeps me coming to work day in and day out.

The ability to help my patients through treatment and make a positive difference in people’s lives. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, 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.

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.

You Get To Perform Direct Care For Prolonged Time

Unlike other medical professionals, rehab therapists get to spend quite a bit of time with our patients. Depending on your setting, you may get to spent 30-60 minutes or more with your patient each day.

In this time, you can build professional relationships with your patients that can help them to greater success.

Flexibility In Schedule

Aside from the work that I get to do with patients, the flexibility of being an SLP is my favorite part of this profession.

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, there is a schedule option out there for everybody. Whether you want to work weekends only, Monday through Friday, seven days a week, or a couple of hours here and there, being an SLP has a lot of schedule options.

The flexibility of being a Speech-Language Pathologist is perfect for somebody who wants to raise a family. In fact, you see many SLPs who go from working full-time, to part-time to raise their children, back to full-time when their children are grown up.

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.

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Nationwide Job Opportunities

SLPs are needed in 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 reports 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 (e.g. those clinicians who do AMAZING work with AAC devices or FEES). 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 FEES and VFSS units that serve their communities. Some crafty and creative SLPs make therapy materials and sell them on TPT or other stores. Others, like myself, blog and make income online. There are certainly many options to branch out and use your business skills in this field!

Work With Different Populations

As a 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!

Community

SLPs have our own little community. On social media, special interest groups, and in-person, being an SLP makes you a part of a community.

a group of healthcare workers
Being a speech pathologist makes you part of the rehab community!

The Cons of Being a Speech-Language Pathologist

Okay, after the pros here are the cons.

GRAD SCHOOL: The Cost, Time, & Competition

One of the biggest cons about being an SLP is actually BECOMING an SLP. To become certified to practice, you need a Master’s Degree in a speech pathology curriculum, along with the other requirements, and passing the PRAXIS.

Graduate school is becoming more and more challenging to get into and becoming harder to afford. I finished grad school with 90k in student loans, and regularly meet people who had loans twice the size of mine.

Grad school is EXPENSIVE!

It may put you in debt for 10-30 years. It is also a time suck! When you are in grad school, you are there full time. You have internships and/or clinic by day and classes by day or night. For 2 years, you are a student!

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.

Grad school is stressful, expensive, and takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of dedication to become an SLP. At least 6 years of education, plus a clinical fellowship year, plus passing your boards. The good thing is, once it’s over, it’s OVER and you never have to go back!

Productivity & Caseload Requirements

The demands placed on clinicians to maintain productivity standards and caseload requirements can be 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. 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. 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.

Pay Ceiling

The opportunity for advancement in wages during your SLP career may be limited.

Often, Speech-Language Pathologists find that their employers have “raise freezes” that last indefinitely.

Seasoned clinicians may realize that new graduates make only slightly less or possibly more than them.

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.

Burnout

For the con list being relatively short, you may wonder why burn out made the list.

Because, working year round, often on holidays and weekends, while maintaining high caseload and productivity numbers, with a stagnant pay can lead to burnout. A growing number of clinicians and reporting burnout and dissatisfaction with the field.

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. As you mature, or can no longer deal with the workplace pressure, it may be hard to find jobs that are accommodating.

Career advancement is also difficult since there is not much hierarchy in the rehab world. You can advance to being a manager, which often still includes treatment, and is high pressure.

Now that you made it to the bottom of the list, I would love to hear your thoughts! If you’re a Speech-Language Pathologist, add your own pros or cons to the list in the comments! 🙂

 

100 thoughts on “Pros And Cons Of Being A Speech-Language Pathologist”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 🙂

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. Hi Julia,
    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,
    Hanna

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

          1. 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?

          2. 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.

    2. 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!

      1. Cindy Bautista

        Hi Brock,
        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?

  7. 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!

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

  9. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  10. Hi Julia,

    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.

      1. 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.

  11. Hi Julia,

    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.
    Thank you,

    1. 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.

  12. 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. 🙂

    1. 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.

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  14. Hi Julia! I was just wondering if you think SLPAs will be needed more in the coming years due to high caseloads for SLPs?

    1. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. Angelica Rojas

    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

    1. 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.

  17. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Scott,
          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?

          1. 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.

  18. 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?

    1. 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.

  19. Alireza Sedaghatbin

    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.
    Thanks.

    Alireza

  20. Hi Julia,

    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.

    1. 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.

  21. Hello,
    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?

  22. 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?

    1. 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.

  23. Hello,
    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?

    1. 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.

      1. Hello Julia,
        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.
        Amber

        1. Hi Amber,

          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.

          1. Julia,
            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?

  24. 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?

    1. 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.

  25. 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.

    1. 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.

  26. Hello,

    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.

    1. 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.

  27. Hi
    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!

  28. Hi Julia,

    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

    1. 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.

      1. Hi again,

        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!
        Thanks 🙂

        1. 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.

          1. 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!!

          2. Hi Julia,
            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.

  29. 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.

    1. 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.

  30. 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!

    1. 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?

      1. 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!

  31. 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.

    1. 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
      Thanks

  32. 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?

  33. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

  34. 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!!

  35. Hi Julia,
    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?
    Thank you

    1. Hi I’ve thought the opposite where working in the field as a SLPA is good for applications.

  36. 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?

    Thank you

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