Speech pathologists are basically in charge of diagnosing and treating individuals with communication disorders. The services they provide are aimed at helping people with literacy, cognitive -linguistic, speech, fluency, voice, or swallowing disorders brought about neurological disease, cancer, stroke, seizure or other underlying medical conditions. They enjoy a lot of flexibility with regard to the employment settings. Nursing care facilities, hospitals and schools have been increasingly contracting speech pathologists, meaning these professionals can easily venture into self-employment and only deal with clients on contract basis.
Education, Training and Certification
A person who plans to practice as a speech pathologist must get a degree in speech pathology. One can go for a degree in a related field such as biology, audiology and psychology as an option. Also necessary is to have a master’s degree in the same field. Most of the institutions that offer the undergraduate courses also provide master’s programs.
While the complete program may take up to six years to cover, this is always made up for in terms of the earnings that a professional receives once they get into the field.
A person also needs to go through some clinical internship where they can work alongside a professional when taking undergraduate classes in speech pathology. Such hands-on training provides real experience so the individual gets a good idea of what working as a pathologist may be like. The basic training includes physiology and basic anatomy, though there may also be instruction on the conditions that lead to speaking and swallowing difficulties. Speech therapists who train in professional settings must learn to create speech exercise programs and to implement treatment while in close contact with psychologists. Therapists are also trained to counsel patients and families as the treatment plan continues.
Before becoming a voice pathologist, taking certification is required which will subsequently get you qualified to give services to clients. The specific requirements for certification and practice however vary based on the region a professional opts to work in. It is very important for anyone interested in this career to get well versed with the practice requirements. Knowing where you plan to work is also essential so that you are really prepared in the course of training.
Average Annual Salary
The average annual salary of speech pathologist is $72,730. This is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divide that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $44,380 and the top 10% makes over $107,650.
Factors that Affects the Salary of Voice Pathologist
Primarily, the salary of speech pathologist highly depends on industry-specific aspects of the position, as well as experience. The metropolitan location in which they work has a significant influence as well, offering differences of more than $50,000. Since most speech pathologists have a similar education, this is not a defining factor in salary, nor is specialization; most Voice pathologists tend to work with a wide variety of speech problems, and the field does not have specific specializations beyond age-related comfort of the pathologist themselves.
• Education and Specialization – A master’s degree in speech pathology is required, followed by certification and licensing as a speech pathologist. This is true in almost every jurisdiction, so educational differences have little bearing on speech pathologist salary. A speech pathologist working in the public school system will earn an average of $66,440, somewhat below the average, whereas a speech pathologist salary in a general hospital is $75,700, just above the average. While this isn’t attributable to a specific specialization, the choice of people with whom the pathologist wishes to work is a particular factor.
• Experience and Position – Like all fields, experience is a factor in influencing speech pathologist salary. However, with the differences made in geographic location and industry specifics, it is not a primary factor. General experience, and time in a particular position, will offer similar wage increases as other positions.
• Industry – Having a large number of potential industries in which a speech pathologist can work, this is one of the factors more strongly influencing salary. As mentioned, schools will come in under the average, while general hospitals slightly improve on it. Child day care positions show a great increase, offering an average salary of $87,370. Home health care services improve upon this, showing an average salary of $91,220. However, the highest paying side of the industry is in other ambulatory health care services, with a mean wage of $105,800, or around $30,000 above the average.
• Location – The geographic location also has a significant impact on Voice pathologist salary, with the highest paying states offering approximately $10,000 more than the average. District of Columbia wage offerings are the highest, at $86,220, followed by New Jersey at $84,660, and Colorado at $83,780. A more focused look at metropolitan areas, however, reveals even greater gains to be had, with Sherman-Denison, Texas, topping the salary averages at approximately $101,530.