The profession of speech-language pathology has a very bright future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported an estimated 18 percent growth rate in open positions from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Based on this BLS data, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Associations (ASHA) estimates that an additional 25,400 SLPs will be needed to fill the demand.
To assess the job market for SLPs and to quantify shortages, ASHA decided to include a question on its major surveys. The question and response categories were patterned after definitions used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and revealed the following:
- In 2016, more than half (54%) of school-based clinicians responding to the ASHA Schools Survey reported that job openings exceeded job seekers in their type of employment facility and geographic area
- In 2017, 35% of SLPs responding to the ASHA SLP Health Care Survey reported that job openings exceeded job seekers in their type of employment facility and geographic area; 34% reported that job openings and job seekers were in balance; and 31% reported that job openings were fewer than job seekers
- In 2017, 26% of SLPs responding to the ASHA SLP Health Care Survey indicated that there were funded, unfilled positions for SLPs at their respective healthcare facilities
Excellent employment opportunities will be available for skilled speech-language pathologists (SLP) in schools and healthcare facilities across the country. There are several contributing factors for the increasing demand of SLPs. As baby boomers age, the geriatric population will rise and so will the number of health conditions that will need speech treatment, including strokes and dementia. In addition, the number of infants affected by neurological and motor speech-related disorders will also expand the need for speech-language pathology services.
The positive impact on employment in the SLP workforce is also being brought on by the earlier detection of childhood speech and language disorders, like stuttering and autism. SLPs are needed to work with these children to improve their ability to communicate and socialize effectively. Furthermore, medical advances are improving the survival rate of premature babies as well as victims of trauma and strokes. These patients also, quite often, have a need for speech-related care.
Speech-language pathologists will see an increase in need in the educational services setting as enrollment in elementary and secondary school grows. Moreover, federal law guarantees special education and related services be available to all children with disabilities. SLPs in private practice will also rise due to the increasing use of contract services by hospitals, schools and nursing care facilities.
The field of speech-language pathology is a solid career option for those interested in the areas of communication and swallowing across the life span. According to U.S. News and World Report, speech-language pathologists rank #22 in Best Health Care Jobs and #38 in The 100 Best Jobs. Jobs are ranked per their ability to offer an elusive mix of factors.
You can have a diverse career as a speech-language pathologist, since you’re able to work in a variety of places and industries, and can help people of all ages with any kind of speech, language, hearing, swallowing, or other communication disorder or impairment.
To explore open opportunities within the school-based setting visit our job portal by clicking here. If you’re interested in opportunities in a clinical setting we invite you to visit our sister company’s website by clicking here.