Speech therapists, also called speech-language pathologists, invest a great deal of time in their professional education. Many speech therapy jobs, especially those held in public and private schools, require a master's degree. Though the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and the UK Labour Market Statistics show that the growth of speech therapy jobs is expected to be average, the growth potential for speech therapy jobs could be dependent on the sector in which those jobs are held. Availability may also be dependent on the therapist’s level of education, such as whether or not they have obtained a higher degree.
Speech therapy jobs are typically found within educational institutions or the health sector, at hospitals, doctor’s offices, and specialty clinics. Within the educational field, speech therapy jobs involve working in schools with children ranging from preschool to secondary education levels. The most common environment for speech-language pathologists is at the elementary school level. In the health sector, speech therapists may work with patients of any age, ranging from small children to the elderly. Jobs can be found in nursing homes, private practices, hospitals, and other similar environments.
The best jobs are those that are rewarding to the job-holder. While many people prefer to have stable, long-term employment, benefits, and pay commensurate with their level of education, other therapists are content working part-time or on-call. The best job for each individual therapist is also dependent on their preferred working environment.
For instance, if you do not enjoy working with children, a speech therapy job within a school or school district is probably not the best job for you. On the contrary, if you thrive on working with children, there are many speech therapy jobs available at different educational levels, working with children of various ages. Clearly, because speech therapists work directly with people, it is important to be comfortable around the patients in any given environment.
Approximately half of the speech therapy jobs held in the United States are in educational institutes – whether private or public. Most states require speech-language pathologists to be licensed or certified according to state law. Some also require you to hold a special teaching license issued by the appropriate state agency before you can work in schools. There are several benefits to working as a speech therapist within a school or school district, including having summers off, access to benefits such as health and retirement, and the opportunity to help children learn.
Though educational institutions may offer many opportunities, hospitals and private practice groups also look to fill many speech therapy jobs each year. In the health care field, speech therapists work with patients who have lost speech ability due to illness, injury, or accident. Stroke victims often require speech therapy, as do those who have suffered neurological trauma. In the health care field, speech therapists work with people of many different age groups and backgrounds and may travel from one facility to another.
When searching for speech therapy jobs, define your own needs first. In addition to being comfortable in the environment and with the patients themselves, determine if you need benefits, higher pay, a regular schedule, or require flexibility. Check with area hospitals and private practices to see which ones offer the best pay and benefits, as well as which schedules are available. If you prefer flexibility, you may wish to work part-time for a school district or medical facility rather than full-time. Be sure to check whether your current qualifications are enough or if you will be required to obtain additional training or education. Ideally, additional education could be paid for through tuition reimbursement through your employer.
Ultimately, the best speech therapy jobs are the ones that provide the right level of fulfillment and personal reward. With experience, you could ultimately change jobs several times until you find just the right job for you. Researching available positions in your area and talking to other professionals from the same employer are great ways to get a feel for the current job market in your field of interest.