One of the fastest growing career paths in health today is Speech-Language Pathology. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) help their clients overcome communication and swallowing issues. From helping clients conquer stuttering to recovering from brain injury, they work with both adults and children to diagnose, prevent, and treat communication disorders.
Just how hot is the market for speech-language pathologists? Job prospects are expected to grow more than 21 percent in the next eight years according to Burning Glass Technologies. That’s significantly faster than the average job growth of 7.4 percent. What’s more, a degree in speech-language pathology is extremely versatile as it allows you to work in multiple settings, from schools, to clinics, hospitals and private practice.
Here are just a few of the trends driving this phenomenal growth.
People are living longer. The number of people aged 65 and older is expected to grow 20% by 2050. With the aging of Americans comes an increase in medical conditions associated with speech, swallowing, and language conditions such as stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
A growth in bilingualism and multilingualism. The number of people who don’t speak English in their homes has been steadily growing in the last few years. People in the U.S. today are twice as likely to speak a language other than English at home than they were in the 1980’s. SLPs help multilinguals achieve language proficiency, pronunciation, mastering language patterns and even word acquisition.
Increased awareness of language development issues. Schools and pediatricians increase parents’ awareness of speech and language delays using developmental screenings. Speech and language disorders are being diagnosed and treated early to improve literacy and prevent learning delays. This increase in early interventions has led to more work in schools and with young children.
Improved hearing technology. The last few years has brought transformative innovations in hearing technology offering the hearing impaired the opportunity to hear and communicate better than ever before. The increased popularity of cochlear implants, for example, help profoundly deaf people to hear and speak again.
In addition to a graduate degree in SLP from a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation, you’ll need a supervised postgraduate clinical fellowship. Look for a graduate program that has strong ties to the community, such as Hofstra and its Saltzman Community Center, that can place you in local clinics.
“Many of our alumni become field externship supervisors where we subsequently then place our students,” says Dr. Jenny Roberts, chair of the Speech Language Hearing Sciences Department at Hofstra. “We have this really wide network in addition to all the other professionals that we are affiliated with. People like to stay affiliated with our department and connected. Not only do they serve as externship supervisors, but we also have a number of our alumni who teach courses for us and provide our students with places to acquire their observation hours.”
“It’s a great thing to know that our students can come through one of our programs knowing that they have connection not just while on campus,” continues Dr. Roberts, “but also, in all likelihood, while out in the field.”
With just 3 to 5 years’ experience, SLPs in the New York metro area earn an average salary of more than $76,000 according to Burning Glass Technologies. Programs that offer a variety of experience and contacts in the field can help you get the job you want and increase your earning potential.
((This article first appeared here, written by Anthony Porcelli))