Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, Parkinson’s disease, a cleft palate or autism.
Speech-language pathologists held about 135,400 jobs in 2014. About 2 out of 5 speech-language pathologists worked in schools in 2014. Most others worked in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals.
How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech-language pathologists typically need at least a master’s degree. They must be licensed in most states; requirements vary by state.
Employment of speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 21 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom population grows older, there will be more instances of health conditions that cause speech or language impairments, such as strokes and hearing loss.
This occupation supported 134,100 jobs in 2012 and 135,400 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 1.0%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 19.4% in 2022 to 160,100 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 139,200, compared with an observed value of 135,400, 2.7% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 21.6% in 2024 to 164,300 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 165,200 jobs for 2024, 0.5% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation.