SLP Employment Outlook

General Employment & Job Outlook Statistics

Speech-Language Pathologists held about 119,300 jobs in 2008. About 48 percent were employed in educational services. Others were employed in hospitals; offices of other health practitioners, including Speech-Language Pathologists; nursing care facilities; home healthcare services; individual and family services; outpatient care centers; and child day care centers.

Nine percent of Speech-Language Pathologists were self-employed in 2008. They contract to provide services in schools, offices of physicians, hospitals, or nursing care facilities, or work as consultants to industry.

Job Outlook

Faster than average employment growth is projected for Speech-Language Pathologists. Job opportunities are expected to be favorable.

Employment Change

Employment of Speech-Language Pathologists is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. As the members of the baby-boom generation continue to age, the possibility of neurological disorders and associated speech, language, and swallowing impairments increases. Medical advances also are improving the survival rate of premature infants and trauma and stroke victims, who then need assessment and sometimes treatment.

Employment in educational services will increase with the growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students. The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a Federal law that guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech and language disorders in young children will also increase employment.

In healthcare facilities, restrictions on reimbursement for therapy services may limit the growth of Speech-Language Pathologist jobs in the near term. However, the long-run demand for therapists should continue to rise as growth in the number of individuals with disabilities or limited function spurs demand for therapy services.

The number of Speech-Language Pathologists in private practice should increase because hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities will contain costs by increasingly contracting out for these services.

Job Prospects

In addition to job growth, a number of job openings in speech-language pathology will be due to retirements. Opportunities should be favorable, particularly for those with the ability to speak a second language, such as Spanish. Demand for Speech-Language Pathologists can be regional so job prospects are expected to be favorable for those who are willing to relocate, particularly to areas experiencing difficulty in attracting and hiring Speech-Language Pathologists.

(Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Physical Therapists, visited April 15, 2010.)

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