Speech-Language Pathologist

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Job Outlook:
Much faster than average
Education: Master's degree
High: $126,680.00
Average: $89,460.00
Average: $43.01

What they do:

Assess and treat persons with speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. May select alternative communication systems and teach their use. May perform research related to speech and language problems.

On the job, you would:

  • Evaluate hearing or speech and language test results, barium swallow results, or medical or background information to diagnose and plan treatment for speech, language, fluency, voice, or swallowing disorders.
  • Write reports and maintain proper documentation of information, such as client Medicaid or billing records or caseload activities, including the initial evaluation, treatment, progress, and discharge of clients.
  • Monitor patients' progress and adjust treatments accordingly.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Speech-language pathologists must select appropriate diagnostic tools and evaluate results to identify goals and develop a treatment plan.

Communication skills. Speech-language pathologists need to explain test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatments in a way that individuals and their families can understand. They also must be clear and concise in written reports.

Compassion. Speech-language pathologists may work with people who are frustrated by their communication difficulties. They must understand and be supportive of these clients and their families.

Critical-thinking skills. Speech-language pathologists must be deliberate in making assessments to create treatment plans tailored to individual needs.

Detail oriented. Speech-language pathologists must comprehensive notes on clients' progress to ensure that they continue receiving proper treatment.

Listening skills. Speech-language pathologists must pay attention to hear the clients' communication difficulties and determine a course of action.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

97% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
96% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
95% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
95% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
94% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
92% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
88% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
87% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
86% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
85% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
85% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
82% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
81% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
79% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
74% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
73% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


95% Social  -  Work involves helping, teaching, advising, assisting, or providing service to others. Social occupations are often associated with social, health care, personal service, teaching/education, or religious activities.
83% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

95% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
78% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
72% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
70% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
61% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

88% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
81% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
81% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
81% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
78% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
69% Fluency of Ideas  -  The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
69% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
69% Category Flexibility  -  The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
66% Hearing Sensitivity  -  The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
66% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

71% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Job Details

Analyze patient data to determine patient needs or treatment goals.
Prepare reports summarizing patient diagnostic or care activities.
Maintain medical facility records.
Develop treatment plans that use non-medical therapies.
Prepare reports summarizing patient diagnostic or care activities.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
Schedule patient procedures or appointments.
Prepare healthcare training materials.
Process healthcare paperwork.
Train patients, family members, or caregivers in techniques for managing disabilities or illnesses.
Maintain medical or professional knowledge.
Present medical research reports.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
Supervise patient care personnel.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
Refer patients to other healthcare practitioners or health resources.
Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
Test patient hearing.
Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
Develop treatment plans that use non-medical therapies.
Train patients, family members, or caregivers in techniques for managing disabilities or illnesses.
Train patients, family members, or caregivers in techniques for managing disabilities or illnesses.
Develop treatment plans that use non-medical therapies.
Advise medical personnel regarding healthcare issues.
Develop health assessment methods or programs.
Train caregivers or other non-medical personnel.
Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.
Present medical research reports.
Supervise technical medical personnel.
Supervise student research or internship work.
Evaluate patient functioning, capabilities, or health.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
100% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
97% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
95% Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
91% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
90% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
90% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
81% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
80% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
80% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
75% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
74% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
72% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
70% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
70% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
66% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

99% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
95% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
92% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
90% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
90% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
87% Developing Objectives and Strategies  -  Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
86% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
83% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
82% Performing Administrative Activities  -  Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
81% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
81% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
80% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
79% Assisting and Caring for Others  -  Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
76% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
75% Performing for or Working Directly with the Public  -  Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
72% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
69% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
69% Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People  -  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
69% Training and Teaching Others  -  Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
69% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
67% Coaching and Developing Others  -  Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.

What Speech-Language Pathologists Do

Speech-language pathologists
Speech-language pathologists must be able to listen to and communicate with clients in order to determine the right course of treatment.

Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess and treat people who have speech, language, voice, and fluency disorders. They also treat clients who have problems swallowing.


Speech-language pathologists typically do the following:

  • Evaluate levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty
  • Identify clients' goals for treatment
  • Create and carry out an individualized treatment plan that addresses specific functional needs
  • Teach clients how to make sounds, improve their voices, and maintain fluency
  • Help clients improve vocabulary and sentence structure
  • Work with clients to develop and strengthen the muscles used to swallow
  • Counsel clients and their families on how to cope with communication and swallowing disorders


Speech-language pathologists work with clients who have speech and language problems, including related cognitive or social communication problems. Clients may have difficulty speaking, such as being unable to speak or speaking too loudly or softly. They also may have problems with rhythm and fluency, such as stuttering. Speech-language pathologists also work with clients who have problems understanding language.

Speech-language pathologists may select alternative communication systems and instruct clients in their use. They also must record their evaluations and assessments, track treatment progress, and note any changes in a client's condition or treatment plan.

Some speech-language pathologists specialize in working with specific age groups, such as children or older adults. Others focus on treatment programs for specific communication or swallowing problems that result from developmental delays or from medical causes, such as a stroke or a cleft palate. Still others research topics related to speech and language issues.

Speech-language pathologists work with physicians and surgeonssocial workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, audiologists, and other healthcare workers. In schools, they evaluate students for speech and language disorders and work with teachers, other school personnel, and parents to develop and carry out individual or group programs, provide counseling, and support classroom activities. For more information on teachers, see the profiles on preschool teachers, kindergarten and elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, high school teachers, and special education teachers.

Work Environment

Speech-language pathologists held about 171,400 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of speech-language pathologists were as follows:

Educational services; state, local, and private 42%
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists 25
Hospitals; state, local, and private 14
Nursing and residential care facilities 4
Self-employed workers 3

Speech-language pathologists typically work as part of a team. Some travel between different schools or facilities.

Work Schedules

Most speech-language pathologists are full time, but part-time work is common. Those working for schools may have a 2-month break during the summer and a shorter midwinter break.

Getting Started

Master's Degree
Post-Master's Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master's degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level.

How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists
Some speech-language pathologists specialize in working with specific age groups, such as children.

Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. All states require that speech-language pathologists be licensed. Requirements for licensure vary by state.


Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master's degree in speech-language pathology. These programs usually take 2 years of postbaccalaureate study. Although master's degree programs may not require a particular bachelor's degree for admission, they frequently require applicants to have completed coursework in biology, social science, or certain healthcare and related fields. Requirements vary by program.

Graduate programs often include courses in speech and language development, age-specific speech disorders, alternative and augmentative communication, and swallowing disorders. These programs also include supervised clinical experience.

Graduation from an accredited program is required for certification and, often, for state licensure. The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA), accredits education programs in speech-language pathology.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require speech-language pathologists to be licensed. Licensure typically requires at least a master’s degree from an accredited program, supervised clinical experience gained both during and after completing the program, and passing an exam. For specific requirements, contact your state’s medical or health licensure board.

Speech-language pathologists may earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Certification typically satisfies some or all of the requirements for state licensure and may be required by some employers. To earn CCC-SLP certification, candidates must graduate from an accredited program, pass an exam, and complete a fellowship that lasts several months and is supervised by a certified speech-language pathologist. To maintain the CCC-SLP credential, speech-language pathologists must complete a specified number of hours of continuing education.

Speech-language pathologists who work in schools may need a teaching certification. For specific requirements, contact your state’s department of education or the school district or private institution in which you are interested.

Speech language pathologists may choose to earn specialty certifications in child language, fluency, or swallowing. Candidates who hold the CCC-SLP, meet work experience requirements, complete continuing education hours, and pass a specialty certification exam may use the title Board Certified Specialist. Three organizations offer specialty certifications: American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders, American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders, and American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders.

Some employers prefer to hire candidates with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS) certification.


Candidates may gain hands-on experience through supervised clinical work, which is typically referred to as a fellowship. Prospective speech-language pathologists train under the supervision of a certified speech-language pathologist to refine their skills after the completion of the graduate degree.

Job Outlook

Employment of speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 13,200 openings for speech-language pathologists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


As the large baby-boom population grows older, there will be more instances of health conditions such as strokes or dementia, which can cause speech or language impairments. Speech-language pathologists will be needed to treat the increased number of speech and language disorders in the older population.

Increased awareness of speech and language disorders, such as stuttering, in younger children should lead to a need for more speech-language pathologists who specialize in treating that age group. Also, an increasing number of speech-language pathologists will be needed to work with children with autism to improve their ability to communicate and socialize effectively.

In addition, medical advances are improving the survival rate of premature infants and victims of trauma and strokes, many of whom need help from speech-language pathologists.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about speech-language pathologists, a description of the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential, and a list of accredited graduate programs in speech-language pathology, visit

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

For more information about specialty certifications, visit

American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders

American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders

American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders

State licensing boards have information about licensure requirements. State departments of education can provide information about certification requirements for those who want to work in public schools.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of speech-language pathologists.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
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Audiologists diagnose, manage, and treat patients who have hearing, balance, or related problems.

Doctoral or professional degree $82,680
Occupational therapists Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists evaluate and treat people who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities to help them with vocational, daily living, and other skills that promote independence.

Master's degree $93,180
Physical therapists Physical Therapists

Physical therapists help injured or ill people improve movement and manage pain.

Doctoral or professional degree $97,720
Physician assistants Physician Assistants

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Master's degree $126,010
Psychologists Psychologists

Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments.

See How to Become One $85,330
nurse anesthetists nurse midwives and nurse practitioners image Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

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Master's degree $125,900
Recreational therapists Recreational Therapists

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Bachelor's degree $51,330
Respiratory therapists Respiratory Therapists

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Associate's degree $70,540

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.