Speech Therapist Education

speech therapist works with young girl on her enunciation skills
speech therapist works with young girl on her enunciation skills

Speech therapists, also called speech-language pathologists, diagnose and treat students for speech, language and related disorders. To begin your practice, you’ll need to understand your job duties and earn your speech therapy degree-usually a bachelor’s credential.

If you become a speech therapist, you will provide services in elementary, secondary or post-secondary schools, helping students improve their language and communication skills, and leading them to stronger academic performance.

Speech Therapist Duties

Your duties as a speech therapist in a public school may include the following tasks:

  • Working with children one-on-one or in groups to treat voice disorders, stuttering problems or learning disabilities
  • Conducting school-wide hearing tests to identify and diagnose auditory problems among young children and promote early intervention
  • Teaching students with hearing or speech conditions to use sign language
  • Teaming with special education teachers to create comprehensive treatment plans for special needs children
  • Counseling parents on how to cope with speech and language disorders
  • Collaborating with teachers, administrators and parents to implement speech therapy programs

Work Environment

Depending on the school, speech therapists may work with students individually or in groups, providing treatment in a classroom or office. They assist students using audio-visual aids, physical strengthening exercises, instructive or repetitive practice, and other means.

A 40-hour work week is normal for speech therapy teachers, with additional hours worked as needed for lesson planning and related activities. Teachers in smaller districts may travel to different schools throughout the week to provide speech pathology services. Many schools hire speech therapists on a continuing 9- or 10-month contract basis to match the school year calendar.

Speech Therapy Degree Options

Students interested in a career in speech therapy should earn a speech therapist degree, bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or a related major. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree plus your teaching certificate in order to practice speech therapy within the school system. In the United States, over 230 colleges and universities offer speech language pathology programs accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology.

Some states require you to hold a master’s degree in speech-language pathology and your Certificate in Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP). Depending on the state, you may need to graduate from an accredited program in order to obtain a license. Contact the Department of Education in your state to find out what your state requires. Your speech therapy degree plus certification will qualify you to help kids become more effective students in schools throughout your state.

Speech Therapy Professional Certification

The American Speech and Hearing Association offers the CCC-SLP to eligible speech language pathologists. To become eligible for this certification, speech therapists must possess a graduate degree from an accredited university and meet the following criteria:

  • Complete a specified number of hours of supervised clinical experience
  • Participate in a post-graduate clinical fellowship
  • Pass a national certification exam

Some require the CCC-SLP to practice in schools, the remaining mandate that speech therapists hold a teaching certificate, which typically requires a master’s degree from an approved college. Some states will issue a provisional teaching license to candidates with a bachelor’s degree, under the condition that they obtain a master’s within three to five years.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median national annual salary for speech-language pathologists is $84,140. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Speech-Language Pathologists

National data

Median Salary: $84,140

Projected job growth: 19.3%

10th Percentile: $56,370

25th Percentile: $66,700

75th Percentile: $104,500

90th Percentile: $126,680

Projected job growth: 19.3%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $66,560 $49,380 $100,010
Alaska $87,740 $63,710 $112,960
Arizona $92,650 $63,790 $124,800
Arkansas $73,270 $50,420 $120,940
California $105,290 $76,740 $138,050
Colorado $100,580 $72,240 $133,140
Connecticut $95,060 $63,620 $124,530
Delaware $84,320 $61,290 $115,390
District of Columbia $106,190 $76,680 $137,940
Florida $86,860 $55,010 $106,100
Georgia $78,310 $52,710 $113,760
Hawaii $102,180 $80,080 $172,400
Idaho $73,440 $50,990 $102,230
Illinois $79,630 $50,380 $109,340
Indiana $82,190 $50,790 $113,800
Iowa $76,130 $59,620 $103,400
Kansas $77,830 $50,300 $107,210
Kentucky $78,490 $53,750 $115,430
Louisiana $63,010 $48,480 $102,120
Maine $77,380 $58,330 $97,630
Maryland $96,220 $59,270 $128,430
Massachusetts $95,700 $63,090 $123,350
Michigan $81,820 $56,330 $102,960
Minnesota $81,150 $60,120 $102,510
Mississippi $73,000 $47,970 $104,040
Missouri $79,360 $47,220 $105,410
Montana $79,350 $54,770 $103,520
Nebraska $76,140 $51,370 $103,810
Nevada $86,110 $51,310 $120,030
New Hampshire $79,040 $52,010 $104,150
New Jersey $98,150 $64,000 $159,160
New Mexico $97,850 $63,780 $135,500
New York $100,730 $60,790 $145,680
North Carolina $75,530 $51,870 $102,390
North Dakota $63,930 $49,560 $94,260
Ohio $82,790 $58,090 $125,550
Oklahoma $76,820 $45,180 $103,670
Oregon $100,190 $59,500 $117,550
Pennsylvania $81,560 $56,220 $120,220
Rhode Island $93,160 $64,160 $106,620
South Carolina $78,270 $48,660 $108,550
South Dakota $62,780 $47,440 $81,090
Tennessee $78,730 $48,930 $106,740
Texas $79,810 $58,480 $121,930
Utah $82,970 $52,160 $115,250
Vermont $77,920 $51,690 $104,070
Virginia $97,470 $62,280 $135,570
Washington $93,730 $72,710 $115,420
West Virginia $69,630 $49,310 $116,020
Wisconsin $78,940 $57,070 $104,000
Wyoming $68,730 $57,230 $101,040

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

The public school system, with support from the federal government, understands the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech, language and hearing disorders. As a result, public schools have experienced an increased enrollment of special education students, which has created a higher demand for qualified speech therapists.

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