A Ph.D.in the field of communication disorders can lead to a rewarding career as a speech-language pathologist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a total of 112,530 individuals employed as speech-language pathologists in the United States in 2010. While most speech-language pathology jobs typically require a master's degree, those who hold a Ph.D. in the field can expect to command higher than average salaries.
The average salary of a speech-language pathologist was $69,880 per year, as of May 2010, according to the BLS. The bureau indicates that the median salary for speech-language pathologists was $66,920, with the middle 50 percent earning salaries ranging from $53,230 to $84,250. However, speech-language pathologists with a Ph.D. are more likely to earn salaries in the upper echelon of the pay scale. The upper 25 percent earned $84,250 or more, while the upper 10 percent of professionals in this field earned $103,630 or more annually.
Speech-language pathologist salaries are also affected by the employer for which the pathologist works. According to the BLS, the largest number of speech-language pathologists worked in elementary and secondary education schools, earning an average annual salary of $64,310 per year in 2010. However, this is a more likely setting for those with a master's degree. Those holding a Ph.D. would be more likely to work in offices of health practitioners. The bureau reports that these speech-language pathologists earned an average salary of $75,810 per year. Those that worked in hospitals earned an average salary of $73,490. The highest paid speech-language pathologists worked in diagnostic and medical laboratories and earned an average salary of $121,880.
Location can also provide some indication as to what the speech-language pathologist can expect to make. The highest-paid professionals in this field worked in the state of Alaska, according to the BLS, and earned an average salary of $85,440 per year in 2010. Similarly, those in Maryland earned an average salary of $82,310 per year. Texas and California were the states with the highest levels of employment. Average salaries in these states were $67,160 and $81,910, respectively.
According to the BLS, the number of jobs in the field of speech-language pathology should grow by about 19 percent during the period from 2008 to 2018. The bureau indicates that the demand for the services of speech-language pathologists will increase as a result of the increased age of the of population and the various speech and language disorders that result from neurological conditions associated with age. The increased number of people recovering from conditions like strokes will also necessitate the expert work of speech-language pathologists, according to the bureau.