- The job: Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent disorders related to speech, language, cognitive communication, voice, swallowing, and fluency. Speech-language pathologists work with people who cannot produce speech sounds or cannot produce them clearly; those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering; people with voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice; those with problems understanding and producing language; those who wish to improve their communication skills by modifying an accent; and those with cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem-solving disorders.
- Outlook: The combination of growth in the occupation and an expected increase in retirements over the coming years should create excellent job opportunities for speech-language pathologists. Opportunities should be particularly favorable for those with the ability to speak a second language, such as Spanish. Average employment growth is projected.
- Experience: Most speech-language pathologist jobs require a master's degree. In 2007, 47 states regulated speech-language pathologists through licensure or registration. A passing score on the national examination on speech-language pathology, offered through the Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service, is required. Other usual requirements include 300 to 375 hours of supervised clinical experience and nine months of postgraduate professional clinical experience.
- The not-so-good: Although the work is not physically demanding, it requires attention to detail and intense concentration. The emotional needs of clients and their families may be demanding.
- Pay: Median annual earnings of wage-and-salary speech-language pathologists were $57,710 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $46,360 and $72,410.
Learn more: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos099.htm
This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.