May 28, 2016 by
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When most people sit down for dinner with friends, they’re probably thinking about what they should order from the menu. Whether to pick the burger with french fries or opt for a healthy salad instead might be the cause of some angst. But they’re probably not worried about whether the waiter or waitress will understand their words or whether they’ll be able to chew and swallow their meal. Yet millions of Americans do struggle with just these things – speaking and swallowing – and this is where speech-language pathologists come in. According to Elizabeth McCrea, the 2014 president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “speech-language pathologists assess, diagnose and treat a variety of speech, sound, language, voice, fluency and swallowing disorders.”
Speech-language pathologists work with people who are dyslexic, hard of hearing, have incurred brain injuries and more. And their patients span generations. In the last decade, they started working with patients as young as newborns, who are born with cleft palates or have nursing difficulties. They also work with geriatric patients who have suffered strokes or struggle with aphasia (a difficulty communicating through speech or writing).
In addition to creating and carrying out treatment plans for patients, they also work with a patient’s family or support system to help them care for a loved one with speech or language difficulties. Speech-language pathologists work in a number of settings, including private offices, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and public schools.
Job prospects look bright for speech-language pathologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 28,900 jobs will open up before 2024. Since instances of speech and language impairments increase with age, the BLS predicts that the aging baby boomer generation will spur this job growth. The BLS also cites the increased awareness of speech and language disorders in children as another reason for this job boom.
$71,550 Median Salary
0.9% Unemployment Rate
28,900 Number of Jobs