When it comes to finding speech and language pathology jobs, there are a variety of settings to select from. Examples include schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, private clinics, corporate consulting, colleges/universities, and government agencies, just to name a few. Each place of employment comes with different requirements and responsibilities and work within each category can vary greatly. 

No matter the job, all SLPs must meet and maintain licensing requirements for their state and most jobs require ASHA certification as well. It is important to have a general idea of what employment in each setting may entail. Remember to review the requirements and responsibilities put forth in each job listing to understand the specific job you are applying for. The following is a general description of each job setting and includes some of the responsibilities SLPs have at each.

Schools:

According to ASHA, just over half of all SLPs are employed by schools nationally. This includes all SLPs working in preschool, K-12 educational settings, colleges, and universities. In schools, SLPs administer screenings and evaluations do direct speech and language therapy with school-age children, and often support teachers with classroom management. They work with students with a wide range of disabilities and diagnoses and train parents and faculty to support these students. They use organizational programs, tools, and materials to document progress and goals and complete all necessary documentation required for Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). SLPs will then counsel and educate families about these plans and processes and may work as case managers for their students, coordinating meetings and service delivery as needed. 

Healthcare: 

According to ASHA, almost 40% of SLPs are employed in healthcare settings. This includes hospitals, residential healthcare facilities, and non-residential healthcare settings such as patient’s homes, doctor’s offices, and clinics. SLPs who work in hospital settings provide acute and rehabilitative care to a wide range of clients, though some facilities treat specific populations such as at the children’s hospital or at military hospitals. They also diagnose and treat cognitive communication and language disorders, swallowing disorders, and work with their colleagues to design treatment plans and counsel their clients and families. SLPs can also work in residential healthcare settings such as senior assisted living facilities with many of the same responsibilities just outlined. The main difference between them is the longer timeframe at residential healthcare facilities usually means goals and techniques are focused on functional skills and a return to independence.  SLPs who work in non-residential healthcare settings also treat a wide range of clients.  Many of the responsibilities are similar but services may occur in homes, in doctor’s offices, or in clinics. SLPs may be employed by home health agencies or be in private practice. 

Private Practice: 

Many SLPs work full or part-time in a private practice. SLPs that work in these settings also perform evaluations and diagnose and treat communications disorders. Those that own a private practice will also have job duties related to running a business, such as billing, contracting, and marketing.  Additionally, SLPs will often work with insurance companies for reimbursement, so knowledge regarding insurance requirements for speech and language services may be required. A private practice may have a target population such as pediatrics or may serve a larger age-range. These decisions are made by private practice owners, and can also be determined by funding sources such as insurance companies.  

Corporate Consulting: 

Corporations hire speech language pathologists as consultants to address the needs of their employees.  SLPs can be effective at treating many common workplace communication issues, such as public speaking, accent modification, interpersonal skills, and speech rate reduction. An SLP could be hired to speak to a group or to work with a single employee. These contracted situations require that a company recognize the value of such a contract and that a therapist markets themselves to this specific corporate clientele. 

Government: 

Speech language pathologists are employed in administrative and clinical positions by state and local governments and agencies throughout the nation. SLPs are employed by the ARMY, NAVY, and US Air Force providing service members direct or consultative speech and language services. They can also be found working for the Department of Health and Human Services as consultants. These services look much the same as those in educational settings or private practice, with the primary difference being that SLPs in this setting are considered government employees. 

Colleges and Universities:

SLPs are employed by colleges and universities as professors of communication sciences. In order to teach communication sciences, most colleges or universities require that you have a PhD in the field. Some schools also offer part-time or adjunct faculty positions that only require a Master’s degree. Depending on the school and the position you accept, you may be required to conduct research in the field of speech and language pathology, mentor and recruit students, and assist with funding decisions, in addition to teaching. 

In summary: 

The field of speech and language pathology is broad, and SLPs work in a variety of settings, with people of all ages. If you are an SLP looking for employment, take time to consider the setting and population that fits your interests and skills. Speech language pathology is consistently ranked in the top 100 best jobs, largely due to the job market and future growth. If you find yourself dissatisfied with your current setting, take time to evaluate why and remember that there are many other options for employment. 

SDSLP Team
Author: SDSLP Team