Speech-language pathologists, also called speech therapists, are medical professionals who work with patients suffering from speech disorders, such as stuttering or inappropriate pitch. Most states require a speech-language pathologist to hold at least a master's degree and be licensed. The expected salary of a speech therapist depends on the location and type of facility.
National Average Pay
As of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that speech-language pathologists earn an average of $34.97 per hour, or $72,730 a year. Half of speech-language pathologists working in the United States made between $55,170 and $87,630 a year. The highest-paid 10 percent reported annual salaries of $107,650 a year or more.
Pay by Area
Speech-language pathologists receive the highest pay in the Northeast and West regions, according to the BLS. By state or district, the District of Columbia reported the highest average pay for this occupation in 2012, $86,220 a year. New Jersey ranked second at $84,660, followed by Colorado at $83,780 and California at $83,710 a year. The very highest-paying area in the country was the Sherman-Denison metropolitan area of Texas, where speech-language pathologists earned an average of $101,530 per year. South Dakota reported the lowest average salary in the nation, at $50,920 a year.
Pay by Employment Situation
Nearly half of all speech-language pathologists were employed by elementary and secondary schools in 2012, where they earned an average of $66,440 a year. Those employed by general hospitals averaged $75,700 per year, and those who practiced out of their own offices reported an average income of $79,130 per year. Speech-language pathologists employed by nursing-care facilities averaged $85,610 a year, and those who worked for home health services made even more, an average of $91,220 per year.
According to the BLS, the job outlook for speech-language pathologists is excellent. Whereas the average rate of job growth throughout the economy between 2010 and 2020 is expected to be 14 percent, jobs for speech-language pathologists are expected to grow at a rate of 23 percent. This rate of growth should produce nearly 30,000 new positions by the end of 2020. Professional certifications from organizations such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association may help speech-language pathologists find employment.