According to a recent survey done by CNN money, speech language pathologists rank among the top 50 jobs in America in terms of overall personal satisfaction and other factors. However, becoming a speech language pathologist is an intensive process which requires the future speech therapist to attain a Master’s degree and supervised clinical experience.
Despite all this, the future outlook in terms of speech language pathology jobs is expected to grow faster than average compared to other health care occupations. In fact, these professionals are now in so much demand that there are more openings than available practitioners.
As you might have guessed from perhaps doing more research into this field, speech pathologists are employed in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing facilities and schools. These individuals essentially help those people that have speech related disorders such as being able to communicate clearly or simply have fluency problems.
If you get personal satisfaction from helping other individuals improve with their ability, then this profession could be your calling. To give you a better overview of this profession, here is some additional information to help you get on the right track towards finding your dream job.
The need to assess your skills
Essentially what this means is, are you competent enough to do the job? Employers want to know that you have a solid understanding of all the tasks that are required of you and what you are capable of. In other words, are you a good fit for whatever place that you are applying for?
Many employers look for competencies within certain individuals that may be able to tell them how well that you are able to do a particular job. Being able to preparing yourself for these interviews then is absolutely important as well as relaying the technical and functional skills that you have learned on your path towards being a speech pathologist.
A list of speech pathology competencies
As you go through the graduate training programs that available for this field, you will undoubtedly learn a ton of new material which is designed to prepare you for your future career. Needless to say, what you learn and how you are able to carry through is essential when it comes to actually applying for speech language pathology jobs.
Here are list of some of the following competencies with which future employers may judge your potential:
- Provide screening, assessment, diagnosis, treatment and follow up services to patients with speech, voice, language or swallowing disabilities
- Develop effective communication strategies to assist the patient
- Properly establish the use of certain devices and instrumental technology to aid with speaking and swallowing disorders
- Provide counseling services to the patient and to their families
- Conduct hearing and screening tests for possible hearing difficulties
- Help to improve language proficiency and communication effectiveness
- Train support personnel in your setting
- Conduct and apply research methods to specific cases
- Measure the effectiveness of the treatment plan and assess as necessary.
In addition to these competencies as laid out above, it is also important to consider whether a particular job or health care setting would be satisfying for you. The following is a compiled list of satisfiers and dissatisfiers, depending on which ones you find pleasant or unsatisfying, which speech pathologists have noted during their careers:
- Working long shift hours
- Commuting long distances
- Working with cutting edge equipment
- Traveling outside of work
- Working with other individuals
- Having job security
- Training and supervising others
- Having a predictable schedule
- Often working independently
- Working at fast paces
- Communicating with family members
- Having job security
Some of the items on the list, such as job security, might appeal to you but others, such as working long hours, might be a turn off. Therefore, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of all aspects of the job before you seriously consider this career.
Factors that will determine your salary
Before we talk about speech language pathology jobs, let us first look at some of the many factors that are involved in determining the salary for speech therapists. Just to give you a rough idea of what to expect, speech pathologists in health care settings earn on average about $70,000 while those in school settings average just $65,000.
Of course, your pay will likely be different but is essentially dependent on the kind of work that you are expected to perform. Another consideration too is your level of experience and whether you have all the necessary certifications to actually practice.
Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that this field will grow an astounding 19% from 2008 to 2018 which means there will be more demand for these professionals. Demand is also likely to affect your salary and how much one might expect to earn.
Geographic location is also an important consideration as well. You might be happy to live in a state like Hawaii but at the same time the standard of living there is much higher compared to a state like Texas. If you plan to relocate to another area for your job it is definitely a good idea to first determine what the cost of living is and what your expected salary might be.
And then there is the actual employment setting which determines your pay. Nearly half of speech pathologists end up working in schools, although there are plenty that work in environments such as hospitals, health clinics and other facilities.
Finally, as is expected in a wide variety of professions, your pay is also likely to increase as you gain more experience in the field and put in the hours. Employers tend to really look favorably on this as it means that you are much more experienced and dependable compared to others that are just entering the field.
Resources to finding speech language pathology jobs
Perhaps one of the best ways to finding a job in this career is through networking and keeping in touch with your professors and alumni from programs that you have graduated from. It also helps to have a mentor who can be able to guide you with your job search.
Here are some resources to help you in finding those organizations who frequently hire speech language pathologists:
- ASHA online career information
- ASHA online career fair
- Information by state
- U.S. Public Health Service
- Department of Health job information
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management
This list is definitely not exhaustive but should be helpful in your path towards this exciting career.
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