How to be a Speech-Language Pathologist: A Day in the Life

I love my profession. I am a speech-language pathologist, and I wake up each day to make a difference in the lives of actual people with heart-beats, futures, wants and needs. At times, it does get hard. Really, über-hard.

Does my day sound like yours? Right now, I need to catch up on my Medicaid billing, plan for my whole-class lesson in life-skills, document 3-5 year-olds that are receiving speech services, finish progress reports, prepare for 3 ARDs and therapy plan for about 30 students.  I, technically, have about two days a week to get this all done, and I am overwhelmed.  I also acknowledge that I am grateful for have a job that makes an impact.  At the end-of-the-day (barring all uncrossed to-do items aside), I tried my darnedest to make the world better.  That feels good.

I am also grateful for opportunities in my j.o.b. to work alongside some awesome SLPs.  On these days, I tackle projects, collaborate with smart, kind folks and keep my eye on the let’s-make-SLP-lives-better prize.

Hey, we are busy, and we love our jobs.   I work each day to find things make our days as SLPs better.  I am going to use my story and supply you with ways to, hopefully, improve different portions of your day.  There are also a few motivational resources if you are running out of steam.

Let’s see how I did today.

7:08am

I start out the day by getting organized.  Spending 10-15 minutes to get organized first-thing, makes a difference for your day.  Put this time in, and it’ll be worth your SLP-while.  Here are a few resources to help drop-kick your hectic day into gear:

Sarah Kathleen Peck’s Organizational Tips

Eat That Frog, Get Organized and Tackle Biggest Jobs First

Do Something Presentation – Great motivation to Start the Day

How to Be a Speech-Language Pathologist

8:17am

How to be a Speech-Language Pathologist Then, I collaborated with a fellow SLP to get ready for an assessment.  She needed to complete a social-pragmatic assessment for an 11-year-old.  Now, I must admit that I geek-out on these kinds of assessments.  I am not ashamed to say that I am one of Michelle Garcia-Winner’s groupies.  She is an SLP who has done a lot of work with Social Thinking (socialthinking.com).  Social Thinking is how we think about others.  It definitely brings in Theory of Mind, the ability to know that others’ have thoughts, feelings and desires (separate from your own).

Here’s the deal.  In my personal experience, some of our students on the autism spectrum who can talk and do well in academic areas, at times, do not qualify for services.  These are also the same students who do not have friends, have difficulty working in a group and complete their homework and do not turn it in.  To be honest, because we use tools (standardized assessments) to assess their language, their social-pragmatic challenges do not necessarily show up.  So, with inappropriate assessment tools, a student cannot qualify for intervention.  So, here are a few great resources to assist you with stellar social-pragmatic assessments:

Jill Kuzma’s Blog is a Powerhouse Resource

Jill also put together some great pictures to use for social thinking assessments and therapy

Description of a Social Thinking assessment

10:23

How to be a Speech-Language Pathologist

Right now, I am collaborating on a project that is much needed.  We are putting together a survival guide for assessing English Language Learners. Each chapter breaks down information for specific languages into speech, phonology and language.  The charts really get down to the nitty-gritty of it all.  Is what you are seeing indicative of students learning a second language or is something more going on?  There are also over 6,500 languages in the world, and, alas, we did not cover all of them.  If you are tackling a language that is not profiled in one of our chapters, we are providing a step-by-step, Quick Tips guide for your assessment. You are busy, and we get it.  So, the work is done for you.

We’ve got Spanish, Korean, Arabic, Mandarin, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese, Farsi, Czech, Russian, French, German.  Stay tuned for information on the release of the Guide. Contact us if you need the information on a language today.

11:12 pm

How to be a Speech-Language Pathologist It’s lunch time, folks.  That means that it is okay to get up from your desk and eat.  Better yet, take the time to change the scenery.  This is good for your productivity and your brain.  Taking a break from your daily prime duties as an SLP may surprise you.  By taking a moment out of the daily grind, new ideas and thoughts may come your way.   Early in my career, I realized that ideas would come when I stumbled upon a quiet moment.  Remember, pushing through your to-do list may, in fact, stifle your SLP-mojo.  Tip:  Wearing comfortable shoes can also increase your creative flow, and it keeps your feet happy.

Here are a few life-changing books to make your work-life more productive and meaningful:

Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers by Robert Kriegel and David Brandt

Switch:  How to Change Things When Change by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

12:02 pm

Guess what, once I got back to my desk, I had the idea to write this post.

1:00 pm

I peer reviewed a report for a fellow SLP.  At times, we feel that taking this extra step takes too much time.  Here are the 3 benefits of getting a peer review:

  1. Honestly, after writing a report, your eyes start to cross and you (or maybe it’s just me) have sweat stains.  Someone catches your mistakes.  One time, I read a report that had three students names in it.  That was not good, and corrections, thankfully, were made.
  2. You get to collaborate with a like-minded professional.  We each have our strengths, and we should join forces to do a better job.  It’s about cumulative effort, and it’s more fun.
  3. You will likely learn something new.  We are better at our jobs because of experience.  Reading another report, in actuality,  is like a little moment of professional development.

2:08 pm

I spoke with a parent of a 4-year-old boy about developmental norms for her son.  By the end of the 26 minute conversation, Mom felt better and strategies for given to support the child in the home.  Aren’t we pretty lucky to be in a profession that gives us opportunities like this?

Here are resources pertaining to developmental norms for our students and clients:

Development of Communication 0-5 , Language Milestones by Ages

3:07 pm

It is time to tackle progress reports.  I am summoning my inner-SLP-beast to get this task completed.  I can do it.  Right?

4:21pm

The progress reports are not complete, and I am going home.  In the past 10 or so years, I have learned that the work will always be there.  And, to be the best speech-language pathologist for my students, teachers and parents, I need to be okay with saying, “That’s enough for today.”

Here are resources for work-life balance:

Shawn Achor:  The happy secret to better work

Marcia Wieder’s Balancing Act:  Creating Harmony at Home and Work

4:47 pm

These two faces are running towards me.  I will focus my heart and energy on them.  They will refuel me for another great day as a speech-language pathologist.  Tomorrow.

Written by: Scott Prath

51 Comments on “How to be a Speech-Language Pathologist: A Day in the Life”

  1. March 9, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Hello,

    I’m 41 years old and almost a empty nester. So I of course I’m looking to actual complete college now that my kids are up in age. I have over 21 years work experience with children and families with combination of human and social service background. I want a career that is interesting but also pays well. Torn between counselor and this profession. Can you provide me with a little more insight to this profession

    • March 10, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

      Speech Pathology is an amazing field. I can’t speak in terms of comparing it to counseling but do know that unto itself it has a high career retention rate (11-35 years) and routinely has a job satisfaction rate of 85% while other professions work towards 60%. Other great aspects of the field are that 1) it is relatively new and is exciting to be part of an unfolding profession, 2) you can dive into a niche such as stuttering, 3) spend your entire life learning and working with great people, and 4) will never be in need of work. ASHA, our national organization has great information on the careers page and professional resources.

  2. April 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi.
    Thank you so much for that article. Very helpful. I’m contemplating going back to school to earn a master’s in slp. Right now, I hold a bachelor’s in Accounting. I know going back I would need to complete a few pre-reqs. What advice would you give to a person entering this field?

    • April 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

      Esna, thank you for considering the field of speech-language pathology. You ask a great, thoughtful question. First, talk to speech-language pathologists. Find out about their graduate school experiences. Different schools can provide various areas of expertise and experiences. Also, find out about their day-to-day. A school-based speech-language pathologist’s experience may be different from an SLP working in a hospital. One of the perks of our job is that we can easily change between settings. We will always have a job, and it will always be fulfilling. Second, know that you are entering a profession that changes lives. We give our students and our clients advocacy skills and the ability to enrich their lives. As a result, always remember ‘why’ you are choosing to be in the field. Last, as you begin working with clients, remember 1) to develop functional goals and objectives, 2) the big picture (what do we want for him 5, 10, 15 years from now?) and 3) therapy is a dynamic process–we are always changing, tweaking, growing and improving. Good luck as you pursue your speech-language pathology endeavors. Here is a Megan Hodge quote: A career in speech-language pathology challenges you to use your intellect (the talents of your mind) in combination with your humanity (the gifts in your heart) to do meaningful work that feeds your soul… I am proud to be a member of what I believe to be the best profession on earth.

  3. April 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Hello. I am in high school and I am also considering a career in speech-language pathology. I was wondering: Do you work in a school environment? Do you mostly interact with special education students? How stressful is your job? If you work in a school, and assuming you have summers off, what do you then do?
    Thanks!

    • April 16, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      Megan, thank you so much for your question. I primarily work in the schools as an employee at Bilinguistics. Prior to coming here, I was employed by the school districts for almost ten years. To be honest, my heart and passion is for the schools. As a school-based speech-language pathologist, all students who are on the SLP caseload qualify as a student in special education. My caseload consists of students with expressive and receptive language disorders, articulations disorders, fluency disorders and social/pragmatic needs. I have wonderful students with autism, cognitive disabilities and other specialized needs. Bottom line, they are all people FIRST. I just happen to be the lucky one who gets to work on their functional communication skills.

      Is my job stressful? At times. Is it challenging? Always (and I love it). Is it meaningful? Every single second. As a school-based SLP, I am able to spend my time working with students and collaborating with teachers to provide specialized skills that could potentially impact the 1200+ hours a students spends in school during the year.

      Personally, I do not feel that you can go wrong in this field. You can work in the schools, private sector, home health, rehabilitation centers or open your own business. There will always be meaningful work available to you.

      As a school-based SLP, I did have two months off in the summer, a spring break and two weeks off for the winter break. I have spent summer months working for the Extended School Year program for our students who require continual therapy to prevent regression, worked at a private speech and language clinic and saw my own private clients. I must admit that I have also spent the summer resting and recouping. I am an advocate of taking the time to refuel. It takes much energy and much heart to provide support for others, and it is vital to invest in myself to be a good therapist. Now, I spend my summer with my own children.

      Megan, good luck as you move forward with the next chapter of your career! Please let me know if you have any questions. I would be happy to answer them.

      Take Care,
      Phuong
      (phuong.palafox@bilinguistics.com)

      • January 5, 2020 at 10:07 pm #

        Hello,
        My name is Abby and I’m currently a high school senior deciding between becoming a kindergarten teacher or an slp. I’ve always had a passion for working with kids but I don’t know which career path to pursue. Could I go to school for a bachelors in early childhood and then work for my slp masters or is another bachelors degree required? Thank you.

      • January 7, 2020 at 2:58 pm #

        Yes, you can get a bachelor’s degree in another area and still do your master’s degree in speech-language pathology. I did my undergraduate degree in English and Spanish literature. I had to take a few prerequisite courses my first year. If you are studying a related field like Early Childhood Education, you could probably take courses in communication sciences and disorders as your electives that would satisfy prerequisites for the master’s program. Your graduate advisor should be able to help you pick the right courses. Good luck to you!

    • May 10, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

      Megan,
      I was about to ask the same question then through scrolling through, I found your comment. I have a real heart for these types of people and I am wanting to be a Speech and Language Pathologist as well. I would love to get to communicate with you and talk about our common interest!

      Thanks!

  4. May 25, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    Hello,
    Thanks for the post giving us a little insight into a day in the life of a SLP! I plan to attend grad school for SLP in about a year after graduating in December with my undergrad in Integrative Studies. What advice would you give someone who is planning on entering this field without an undergrad related to SLP? Do you have any advice on any experience I can seek to make me more marketable to grad schools (since I don’t have the undergrad experience) and better prepare me for the SLP field?

    Thank you!

    • May 28, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

      Brittany,

      Congratulations on getting closer to obtaining your bachelors degree. As a student in Integrative Studies, you are gaining important skills for speech-language pathology: communication, critical thinking and analysis, problem-solving, task management and relating to others. Know that you are already possess vital skills for the awesome profession of speech-language pathology. Your application for graduate school will include various factors: GPA, GRE score, personal essays and extracurricular/volunteer experience. Your personal essays and extracurricular experience would be areas that could potentially show the admissions committee why you want to be an SLP. As an undergraduate student, you can definitely find ways to gain experience in the field:

      1. Shadow/interview speech-language pathologists–I recall a former principal asking me if her niece, a high school senior, could come talk to me about the field. We chatted. Years later, I interviewed her for a position in my district. If she would have asked to shadow me for a day, I would have also complied. Personally, I feel this step shows gumption for the profession.

      2. Volunteer and/or work with people–The field of speech-language pathology is about interacting and helping others. Any effort and heart put towards this will complement your graduate studies as an SLP. This past year I supervised a graduate student. When she was interacting with the students in my high school life skills classroom, she demonstrated great composure, superb communication and quickly developed natural rapport. When I complimented her on her skills, she reported that she worked at a camp for young adults with intellectual disabilities as a high school student.

      3. When completing your personal essays, find ways to convey WHY you want to be a part of this profession. If you speak to any speech-language pathologist, she will tell you it’s the WHY that keeps her going. In my book, this is such an honorable profession, and we are lucky to be advocates for our clients and students. Side note: Please be sure to edit, edit and edit your essays. High-quality and grammatically-correct writing goes a long way.

      Brittany, I whole-heartedly believe that the admissions process is not based on finding people with the most experience in the field. Rather, it is about finding the best folks for the profession: those who want to help others, those who can effectively diagnose and provide evidenced-based therapy, those who can effectively work on interdisciplinary teams and those who have a passion for the field. Based on your comment, it sounds like you are well on your way.

      Last, I want to state that as a graduate student in Communicative Disorders without an undergraduate background in speech-language pathology, you will need to take leveling courses. Typically, this adds an additional year to the program. Good luck in your endeavors. Please keep us updated on your journey. And, we are happy to answer any additional questions.

      Take care,
      Phuong
      phuong.palafox@bilinguistics.com

  5. August 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Good Afternoon Phuong,

    I am leaving a comment in the hopes I could receive some insight. I am currently a manager in the financial industry and I am wanting to go back to school in order to receive a Master’s Degree in SLP. I currently have a degree in Sociology and Spanish so I know I am looking at around a year of pre requisites. I have been doing quite a bit of research on the program and plan to begin attending Kansas University in the Spring ’15 semester. With all that said, the program is extremely competitive and I am curious to know your take on how to achieve volunteer hours, GRE prep, what I can do to set myself apart, and the best ways to determine fit in the field. I am anxious about leaving my current field, but even more excited at the possibility of doing something I can TRULY feel good about at the end of the day. The catch, I am a 26 year old single mother of a 2 year old 🙂 so finding “extra” time is very hard. Any tips, tricks, or advice would be greatly appreciated. I greatly enjoyed reading your comments and of all the research I’ve been doing I have found your input extremely helpful.

    Thank you!

    Anjelica P.

    • August 19, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      Anjelica,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share your journey with us. First, congratulations on the start of a meaningful and important process. As a parent of two young girls, I can also identify with the challenges of time. I will also say that I think your journey will be worthwhile and impactful. Here are my initial thoughts regarding your questions:

      1. Volunteer hours: I suggest potential students reaching out to school districts, private office, home health facilities, anywhere! This past summer, we had several individuals observing in our office. Also, as a former school-district lead, I was always open to individuals coming in to observe. Of course, you will need to adhere to the district policies. Where do you live, Anjelica? Depending on your location, I can survey our office to determine facilities that are more open to observers.

      Side note: If you have worked or volunteered in settings that support other individuals, note this. For example, I had a grad student last year, and she worked at a camp for adults with intellectual disabilities. The skills she gained were essential as an SLP. So, think about your previous experiences.

      2. GRE Prep: There are courses for GRE prep. For me, personally, I obtained the most from taking many practice tests. I felt it had been several years since I had taken a test like the GRE. So, just going through the process helped. You can take a practice test. Then, determine where you need to put your time and energy. Also, I just spoke to a few new graduates, and they reiterated that taking the time to practice is essential.

      3. Setting Yourself Apart: It sounds like you are bringing a wealth of skills and information into this field. To be honest, being bilingual is helpful and needed. Being a non-traditional student, you are already setting yourself apart. So, dear, you are ahead of the game! Referring back to #1, you can add how you have observed and engaged in experiences that have supported others.

      I hope this helps. Please feel free to email me if you have questions (phuong.palafox@bilinguistics.com) if you have questions. Good luck, Anjelica!

    • Alexandra C. December 13, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      Hi Angelica,

      Just stumbled across your comment and wanted to reach out to say I am feeling exactly the same way. it was refreshing and reassuring to read your story. I studied marketing in college, and currently have a corporate job that leaves me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve been doing a lot of research on speech-language pathology and am excited about the opportunity to do something that makes a difference in people’s lives. As a 24 year old, that’s something that is so important to me. Good luck!

      And thank you Phuong for a lovely, well-written account of a day in the life of an SLP. It was beyond helpful and leaves me feeling motivated to join such a wonderful field!

      Alex

      • December 15, 2014 at 10:13 am #

        Alex,

        I am so glad you found comfort in Angelica’s story. And, thank you for your kind words. Good luck as you pave a new path. If you have questions along the way, please feel free to reach out to us!

        Phuong
        phuong.palafox@bilinguistics.com

    • February 25, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

      Hi Anjelica,

      I just stumbled across this blog, as I am in the same place it seems you were three years ago! I was wondering if you ended up pursuing your Masters and if so, how it’s going post graduation. I had always set my heart on being an MFT but the more research I do, the more I am pulled toward SLP. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

      Thank you!

      Lisa

  6. August 27, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Good Afternoon Phuong,

    I am currently a sophomore in college and I am deciding between two different majors as I am in between becoming a speech pathologist or a dietician. I have always had a passion for helping others so I have been doing a lot of research in these fields. After reading negative comments in many forums from SLPs, I started to reconsider my career options. However, this forum has started to change my mind again in a positive regard towards becoming an SLP. The negative comments included complaints about paperwork, hard to deal with parents, boredom with the job, and other such pessimistic attitudes. I am curious if these are true for you? My school does not offer and undergraduate program from SLP so I would go into Human Development as my major. I am very confused on which profession I would like to do (being as a sophomore I need to know soon) and am looking for advice from actual SLPs in making this decision.
    Thank you so much for your help,
    Lizzie

    • September 3, 2014 at 9:07 am #

      Lizzie,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and questions. I would love to share with my thoughts regarding your concerns. First, I want to acknowledge that speech-language pathology is a meaningful and impactful profession. I am the first to say that this career is not easy. Along the same line of thought, I am a firm believer that all good things require work and effort. As a speech-language pathologist, (SLP) I am working with children and adults on their communication and advocacy. I help children make friends (theory of mind strategies) for the first time, young adults make requests for their favorite foods and books using a communication device and support families through an important journey. I wake up each day knowing I am making small and big differences. Recently, I was able to hear one of my former students give a keynote address at a graduation ceremony. I worked with her almost ten years ago on social/pragmatic skills. The young lady that stood in front of the crowd possessed the communication skills we so diligently worked on a decade ago. This is why I do what I do.

      Now, let’s address the negative comments you are reading. They are true. Let’s dig a little deeper:

      1. There is paperwork, and paperwork is not fun. All of us got into the profession to help people, and paper is not a living entity. Keep in mind that this paperwork helps us to document our goals and progress. This is an important (though not thrilling) part of our job. Over time and with creativity, there are ways to efficiently complete the paperwork. I would be happy to share those strategies when you need them.

      2. I have worked in the schools for almost a decade, and I love it with every cell in my body. Parents are challenging. To be very honest, I do not expect anything less. Parents are advocating for their children. Whether or not we agree with their comments and suggestions 100% of the time, there are good and important reasons why it was conveyed. And, we are the ones who get to build trust and worked collaboratively with families to move forward. My most “challenging” parents made me rethink why I was doing something in the manner I chose. It made me reevaluate and do better. I learned a great deal, and I became a better speech-language pathologist because of their passions. I am grateful for all of my parents.

      3. Truth be told, I have not yet been bored in my profession. I have worked in the schools, private clinic and trained SLPs and educators—this job is dynamic and evolving. There are always paths that need improvement, strategies that need to be shared and communication passions that needs to ignite students, clients and fellow SLPs. If boredom does exist in one’s job, then I would reconsider another professional route. This job is not for everyone, and that’s okay.

      4. I am honored to have the opportunity to support SLPs and educators in the state of Texas. They all work hard, and the work is getting harder. I live the life, and I empathize. So, I understand the pessimism. I am also confident about macro-level strategies that could alleviate what we are doing in our profession. We have a job to do, and there are smarter ways of doing it. Specifically, I have information on working with those living in poverty, service delivery models for school-based SLPs and strategies for building collaborative, interdisciplinary teams. I feel for all of my SLPs, and I am confident there are ways to make our jobs more efficient and effective.

      Also, Human Development will provide a great foundation for your career (if you choose) as a speech-language pathologist. Once you graduate, know that you will need to take approximately a year of leveling courses. For example, my friend Suzy attended graduate school as an individual who was not a speech-language pathology/communicative disorders major. She added an additional year of SLP-basic courses prior to starting the two years of graduate work.
      As you can see, I am passionate about this field. I do not discount the challenges, and I have embraced them as opportunities to make our profession better.

      Here is a (positive and honest!) video of why school-based SLPs love their job.

      For good measure, here’s another video of a few of my awesome colleagues!

      Lizzie, I am sending you positive vibes as you give some heart and brain power to your future. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at phuong.palafox@bilinguistics.com. I am here for you. Again, thanks so much for the opportunity to share my passions with you.

      Take care,
      Phuong

  7. September 6, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Hello
    Thank you for insight in your daily routine as an SLP. Currently I am obtaining my bachelors in CSD and still indecisive if I should pursue my masters in this field. I have shadowed OTs and SLPs and have passion for either field.Have you worked closely with OTs before? and what would you say makes your career a little bit better than OT ? (other than not cleaning poop). Also, if I manage to get a job with my bachelors do you have a general idea how much SLPAs make? I have come across a lot of sites that state 16 to 30 dollars an hour. Lastly, my main goal in either field is to work with geriatrics would you recommend I get a masters in Gerontology? would this make me more marketable?

    Thank you

  8. September 6, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Hello
    Thank you for insight in your daily routine as an SLP. Currently I am obtaining my bachelors in CSD and still indecisive if I should pursue my masters in this field. I have shadowed OTs and SLPs and have passion for either field.Have you worked closely with OTs before? and what would you say makes your career a little bit better than OT ? (other than not cleaning poop). Also, if I manage to get a job with my bachelors do you have a general idea how much SLPAs make? I have come across a lot of sites that state 16 to 30 dollars an hour. Lastly, my main goal in either field is to work with geriatrics would you recommend I get a masters in Gerontology? would this make me more marketable?

    Thank you

    • September 6, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      One more thing I also found a masters program in Applied Linguistic: ESL/ Foreign Language pedagogy and rehabilitation counseling. Out of the 3 which one better? below I have attached the description of the apllied linguistic program.

      The Applied Linguistics Program focuses on the acquisition of second or subsequent languages, as well as cross-cultural relations and interethnic communication. Its interdisciplinary core curriculum includes courses on: Linguistics, Psycholinguistics, and Sociolinguistics Cross Cultural Perspectives, Acculturation, and First-Language Maintenance Second – and Foreign-language Curriculum Design & Teaching Methodology.

      Once again thank you,
      confused student

    • September 8, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Hi Ana,

      Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog and our stories. As a school-based SLP, I have had many opportunities to work with OTs in the school setting. I must say that I greatly enjoy working with occupational therapists on an interdisciplinary team. When another professional is able to support your goals and objectives, the child/client always benefits. The biggest difference in speech-language pathology and occupational therapy would be the skills you are addressing. Of course, in speech and language, we look at speech, expressive/receptive language (including social skills), voice and fluency. The American Occupational Therapy Association states that OTs and OTAs “ help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.” To answer your question regarding what makes speech-language pathology better than occupational therapy, I would say that it would solely depend on your specific needs and wants as a professional. Personally, I am a big believer that you cannot make a wrong decision. There will be pros and cons to all professional avenues. Fortunately, you are choosing between two fields that support the daily life activities of humans. And, in my opinion, your career chose will always be meaningful and important.

      As an SLP-Assistant, based on my experience as a school-based SLP, salary was comparable to SLPs with their CCCs. In some instances, SLP-As were paid on the teacher scale, and SLPs were paid on a professional scale. The starting, salaried pay rate had an average difference of $3K. I do not have information related to the pay differences in a hospital, home health and private setting. Please keep in mind that the availability for work for an SLP-A may differ. For example, I know of school districts and private facilities that do not employ SLP-As. Do your research in the area you wish to be employed.

      It is wonderful that you would like to work with our geriatric population. For the field of speech-language pathology, getting a degree in Gerontology would provide insight and scope for your desired population. However, I am not sure it would be needed for you to work with individuals in that age-bracket. I would assume that choosing a facility primarily serving that population (e.g., nursing care facility, outpatient care facility) would best yield opportunities.
      The Applied Linguistics Program also sounds like a great opportunity to learn information regarding second-language acquisition. As a bilingual SLP, I particularly find information about cross-cultural relations and interethnic communication an important part of my job serving English Language Learners. I, however, do not have personal insight on this field.

      Ana, it sounds like you are taking the time to make important decisions about your future, and I appreciate your thoroughness and insight on your journey. I hope I have given you some insight. Good luck in your endeavors.

      Thanks,
      Phuong

  9. September 7, 2014 at 1:16 am #

    Hello, my name is Tamika and I’m considering becoming an SLP. I currently work as Business ESL teacher, but oddly enough I am incredibly unfulfilled. It may be due to the fact that I do not enjoy living in Asia. Anyway, my therapist suggested that I look into becoming an SLP, as I have experience in teaching, though primarily with adults who are learning English. I do have some experience working with as a special education teacher (I was a NYC Teaching Fellow), however, the job was so emotionally overwhelming that I chose to leave after 6 months. Perhaps with better guidance I would have been able to continue, however, there was very little support in the program.

    Therefore, my concern is whether or not a career in SLP would be one I could handle emotionally. According to the a Meyers Briggs test I am an INFP, which means I pursue careers based based on 1) my value system, 2) a job that it is moving me and/or others in a positive, growth-oriented direction, and 3) I am also driven to do something meaningful and purposeful with my life.
    I understand many find this work fulfilling, but what I find fulfilling is independence, ability to travel, learning, knowing that what I am doing is absolutely needed (I guess I need to feel needed), autonomy, and again TRAVEL. So if any wise and mature SLP could provide me with a realistic opinion as to whether or not this is something for me I would appreciate it.

    Like most INFP’s I constantly doubt myself. I am also considering going into Psychology, but find the job security of an SLP to put me at ease. Thank you in advance for your advice.

    Best Regards,
    Parris

    • September 8, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Hi Tamika,

      Thank you so much for reading our blog and for reaching out to me. It sounds like you have important and meaningful decisions to make. I appreciate how you have prioritize what is most important to you in a profession–travel and low-stress. Oftentimes, it is challenging to comes to terms with what we need personally and professionally.

      First, as you have already read, I love my job as a speech-language pathologist. I get to wake up each morning to help others communicate and advocate for their personalized needs. I will also be the first to say that this uber-fulfilling job takes great effort, managment skills and the ability to handle challengings situations. Personally, for me, all great things require great effort. Is the job stressful? Yes and no. There are days that are overwhelming. Fortunately, I had great support systems. I have been a former school-based SLP for almost a decade, and my teams were always there to assist me emotionally and professionally. The hard days definitely made me become a better SLP, and I still found joy in my daily activities at the end of the day. There are other days that are routinized and straight-forward. On these kinds of days, I find comfort in having the knowledge and skills to fulfill my job duties.

      With regard to mobility, I am not sure I have first-hand knowledge of this factor. I have friends who work in home health, and they travel during the day to serve clients in various surrounding areas. Some school-based SLPs are itinerant, and they travel during the day from campus-to-campus. In terms of traveling long distances, I am not aware of SLPs who have this opportunity. The most I travel is when I am asked to present. This happes approximately once a month, and I make a choice to stay within the state of Texas (I have two young children).

      As an individual with a bachelors degree in Communicative Disorders, you will need to add (on average) an additional year onto your two-year graduate program. So, it will be approximately three years of course work. The first year will be comprised of leveling, basic courses in communication, sciences and disorders. Then, you will begin your graduate studies and practicuums. Tamika, at this time, I am not familiar with a related field that does not require a bachelors degree in the same domain.

      I hope I have given you some insight. Good luck, Tamika. Please keep me updated, and I wish you the best.

      Phuong

  10. October 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    Hi!

    Thank you so much for your blog! It has given me hope again! I am currently a licensed teacher and am feeling so drained and stressed every day. I still love working with children but have become overwhelmed by the class size and the demands constantly being put upon us. Also, I always have to take work home with me and it eats away at my family time. I’ve been looking into becoming an SLP but am scared it wouldn’t change the stress load much. So a couple questions for you….
    I have the idea from my research that SLP’s work mostly with small groups of kids is this accurate in your experience?
    I’ve heard conflicting quotes on salary, some say similar to a teacher (35,000- 40,000), others say more like 50,000 -65,000. Which is true?
    Do you have to take work home with you to be prepared for the next therapy sessions or is there work time during the day?
    I hear about the paperwork but honestly its sounds nice compared to a roomful of rowdy kids! As long as there is time to complete it I suppose…
    Again, thank you so much for your blog! It’s nice to read something so positive about a job!

    • October 14, 2014 at 11:49 am #

      Ann,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our blog and for reaching out to us. Thank you, also, for the time you have put into the lives of children. As a former school-based SLP, I whole-heartedly understand the challenges of being a classrom teacher. I have seen friends and colleagues confront the daily needs of supporting a classroom. I also understand the importance of work/life balance. I will strive to answer your questions. Please know that my response is based on my experiences and may differ from other SLPs. Below are two resources for salary information per the American Speech-Language Hearing Association:

      Salary Trends
      Annual Salaries

      Please keep in mind the daily rate of pay as you consider salary. As a school-based SLP with a license, you will likely work 9-10 monhths out of the year. As a result, your daily rate of may be more than those who work all year. As a school-based SLP, I did take work home with me in the beginning of my career. With time and proficiency, I no longer did this on a regular basis. I will also say that I make a choice not to bring work home. As the mother of two young children (ages 3 and 5), I choose not to bring the work home. Also, as a former lead for a school district that had approximately 50 SLPs, I always told my SLPs to let me know when he/she needed support. If an SLP chose to bring home hours of work each evening and I was unaware of the problem, I assumed she was completing her work within an 8-hour day. I feel an SLP needs to better advocate for herself, and these types of questions can be asked during an interview. School districts operate differently, and you need to find a place that fits all of your life and occupational needs.

      Ann, as a classroom teacher, I know you will bring a wealth of knowledge to the profession. Please let me know if you would like to talk more about the field of speech-language pathology. I love my job, and I welcome all questions. I can be reached at phuong.palafox@bilinguistics.com. Thanks so much!

      Phuong

  11. November 11, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Hi Phuong,
    Thank you for writing such an amazing blog at bilinguistics.com. It was so exciting, fun and inspiring to read. I hope its okay if I explain a little bit about what I’m going through and if you can please advise/guide me, I’d highly appreciate it.
    I’m currently going through a situation where I need a career change and I’m looking into Speech Language Pathology or Occupational Therapy. However, its hard for me to do my Masters so I’m thinking more towards Speech Language Pathology Assistant (aka Communicative Assistant Disorder) or Occupational Therapy Assistant and afterwards think about Masters in SLP or OT when I have more time and money. What I do right now just doesn’t fit with my personality. However, I can’t make-up my mind as I’m not sure which career path would be good for me. I know I don’t like science and math. I got 80% in biology in high school but I worked so hard to get that 80%, and I got really bad grades in chemistry, physics and match.
    I’m very active in sports/gym but can be very lazy doing chores at home or in my daily lifestyle at times, I love to go to the gym, I can be an introvert but an extrovert as well but there are more occasions when I’m an introvert depending on how comfortable I feel with a person. I love to dance, go to the gym as I like to stay active. I love to learn about nutrition/diet/exercises for myself and help others as well. I also like languages but when I took french, I dropped it after the first semester as it was really hard to grasp the logic. However, I do know another language besides English and that’s Hindi and I have a working knowledge of Spanish. I love arts, crafts and dancing and love working with my hands. I love listening to other people’s problems, always looking for different ways to help ppl in need once I know of a problem as I just want to ease their suffering, I’m very genuine, trustworthy, extremely patient, caring, compassionate, a nurturer. I really like psychology but I got a B in it in high school. I’ve always gotten A+ in English and Arts as i’m really good in those subjects.
    On a personality test (i’m not sure if it was Mayer Briggs), I’m IIFP (Introvert, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver). But there are times I can be an extrovert so I guess I can also be EIFP (Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver). I have some traits of an introvert and some traits of an extrovert. I’m not sure if this helps but I thought I should mention it.
    I’m not sure who to talk to or where to go in order to make up my mind. It is getting very hard to find a volunteer placement or to shadow an SLP or OT as well so I’m kind of stuck but I’m going to keep trying.
    Hope you can share your insight and guide me in this matter.
    Looking forward to your reply.
    Thank you so much 🙂
    Samreen Sultana

  12. April 12, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    Hello!
    I loved reading your blog! Here’s my question – I am an elementary school principal trying to support a SLP in my school. I need to support this person in becoming more current in their practices and assessment as well as having a deep understanding for the complex role of a SLP. Is there a great (newer) text out there that might be a great starting point?
    Thanks so much!

    • April 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

      Most of the information the is up-to-date reaches our field through continuing education and online resources. You are right in thinking that text books take awhile to develop and get on the market much more slowly. ASHA.org has online courses that can be searched specific to the topic. We now have 40 online courses for professional development and our free resource library has many documents on therapy and assessment.

      Speech Pathology CEUs

      Free Resource Library

      Books for SLPs

      If there are specific topics that you need let me know and I will be happy send them to you or point you in the right direction.

  13. April 24, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Hi There!

    I think your blog is amazing,insightful, and so helpful! After first completing a bachelors degree in English, I went on to get a bachelors in Speech Pathology, graduating in May 2014. I ultimately decided to take some time off before pursuing graduate school, so I decided to get my license to work as and SLPA. I currently work as an SLPA in both a middle school and an elementary school. I also work part time as an ABA technician for a company that provides in home therapy services. I love both my jobs, and find that I am learning so much!
    I am especially loving my work as an SLPA, it is so rewarding!! The more I work in the field, the more I am convinced that this is what I want, to pursue a career as an SLP.
    My question lies in the intimidating hurdle that is graduate school. I am planning to apply for Fall 2016, so I still have time.

    I get so intimidated when I hear about the odds to get into these programs. I understand that they are very competitive, but for someone like me, who finds so much joy and fulfillment in the field, it is a shame to face the possibility of rejection based on something like GPA. There in lies my weakness, at least in my mind. The research I have done, shows that most of the programs except students with GPA’s in the very high 3.0 (3.7-4.0 is what I see most). Now my GPA is not in this ballpark. It is definitely above a 3.0. though, more like a 3.3. My last semester of undergrad could have gone a bit better. Yikes, I know! Despite this, I know that I love this field, and that I have the heart and compassion to make a difference in others lives. I believe that to be a good clinician, it is more than just a stellar GPA.
    Ultimately my question is, is there a chance for me to be accepted into graduate school? I plan on focusing on my strengths when writing my letter of intent, and hopefully my work experience as an SLPA and an ABA Technician will help with that. Do you have any advice on how I can strengthen my application when the time comes? Thanks!

    • April 28, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

      Thanks for your comments! GPA does play into grad school but experience does as well. Programs benefit from having not 100% of the classes fresh out of undergrad and including people who are returning from real work experiences. It is a huge benefit to have worked in the schools before starting a program because when you learn something new you already know exactly how it will be applied. The closest thing to a guarantee of acceptance is to volunteer for the department that you are applying to. If you life near on that is great. There might be some ways to participate remotely too. The point is that you show the academic staff how committed you are to the field.

  14. August 7, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Hello, my name is Melissa, and I live in Florida. I’m an anthropology major, and I’m about to graduate this fall (undergrad). I’m currently working as an EAP and Prep-reading tutor and do love my job. I’m contemplating a Masters in Speech Pathology; however, I was not born in the United States. I was born in Central America and though I’ve been living in the United States for over a decade, I still have an accent. I read your blog and it is so interesting and insightful as to a career in speech pathology entails. I want to ask you if you think that having an accent might pose a problem in this field. I have been reading about speech pathology, and to me it seems like a very rewarding career in both professional and personal level. I’d appreciate the help.

    • August 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      The field of speech pathology is in need of diverse professionals to serve the increasingly diverse students and adults. You are right in thinking that it is a very rewarding career and if you are bilingual there are many, many jobs available to you. Certainly you wouldn’t be the first educational professional with an accent! I wouldn’t let that stop you. Secondly, if altering your accent is of interest to you, I couldn’t think of a better field of study. The same knowledge that you will learn to alter the speech of others can be used by yourself to alter your own sound system. Speech pathologists routinely provide Accent Modification services.

  15. August 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Thank you so much for replying to my message. I appreciate it a lot! This is very encouraging. My next step is to talk to the graduate program at USF. From what I’ve read I need some prerequisites to get in the program which I’ll be happy to do. Thank you so much!!

    Melissa

  16. December 16, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    Hello, I am Chantal from Georgia. I am currently a sophomore at Auburn University. I was originally a pre-nursing major, but after a rough semester I am looking into other career paths like speech pathology. I am so appreciative of this forum because it has answered so many questions and even questions I didn’t know I had. I narrowed down my choices, and speech pathology is at the top of my list. Thank you so much! This really helped a lot.

    Chantal

    • December 21, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

      It truly is an amazing field. Make sure to subscribe to the blog and check out the other posts for people considering speech therapy. I would really suggest that you find a professional in each area that you are considering (speech, pt, teaching, etc) and ask if you can shadow them for half a day. Really see what you will be doing. It can make your decision easy.

  17. October 30, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

    I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree as an SLP. I have many different feelings as it is fun, interesting, meaningful, but also scary and stressful. I am wondering if you could give me advice as to what the difference is working in a school or working at an agency for SLPs? Would the case load be almost the same? Also, are you going to mostly be working by yourself, or will you always have other SLPs to help you out when needed? I am just trying to get a feel for what area I want to go for.

    • October 31, 2016 at 9:40 am #

      Hi Morgan,
      I recently spoke to a woman who was looking into a career change and had very similar questions. The best thing that anyone can do I think is to contact an SLP and ask to shadow for a day. We are all pretty nice in this field and most SLPs would be open to having you join them. If there is an association in your area or a facebook page you could ask a large group at once. You could spend part of a day in a clinic and part of a day on a campus. Maybe get them a $10 thank you card from somewhere. It would be appreciated.

      The different sites we work in are VERY different as far as number of cases, travel, expectations. It is an extremely rewarding job but you do need to find the place that is right for you. From early intervention to schools, to clinics, to the hospitals, to adult rehab. We have a wide variety of placements. Some people work alone all day every day and meet with a team once each month. Some people work in an office and see 6 other SLPs every day. Online communities (like this), ASHA, conferences, and even facebook help to fill in.

  18. November 13, 2016 at 9:53 pm #

    Practical piece – I was enlightened by the specifics ! Does someone know where I might be able to locate a template MN Continuing Education Reporting Form form to fill out ?

  19. November 22, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    It’s great to be able to learn and collaborate with other SLPs. 🙂

  20. February 11, 2017 at 11:25 pm #

    Hi there! I am currently in my third year of college and am having second thoughts about my chosen major. I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education because I love working with children (all people, really), I need a career that is challenging, and quite frankly, I want to make a difference and change the world! But I know the reality of the life of a teacher: long hours with low pay and the fact that it has one of the highest turnover rates for careers in the United States. I have been looking into the SLP field and there is a wonderful program at my school. I like the fact that I can still work in a school setting and, if I’m being honest, the difference in income is a factor as well. I have only recently started classes in my actual field of education (many semesters of prerequisites are finally over) and am seriously considering rerouting and earning my Bachelor’s in the SLP area instead. Your article really opened my eyes to the wonderful field you are in! If you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate your feedback! Thanks for this article. I really needed to see this perspective.

    • March 10, 2017 at 9:57 am #

      Amanda, thank you for your feedback and input. I will be the first to support our teachers and our school-based speech-language pathologists. The work, from both professions, is challenging and can potentially make a big, big impact. From my experience supporting school districts, SLPs do have a higher salary. However, in saying that, the difference can vary greatly depending on your district. Here are the biggest differences between being a SLP and a classroom teacher:

      1. Teachers support students in general education (unless you want to be a special education teacher), and SLPs work within the special education realm. SLPs, in the schools, work on receptive language, expressive language, articulation and fluency. Teachers work on the state-approved curriculum.

      2. Teachers address the state approved state curriculum and teach within a classroom. SLPs also address the state approved curriculum, however, we do this through differentiating to student’s individualized needs and individualized service delivery models (e.g., small group, one-on-one, inclusive practices in the classroom).

      3. SLPs complete evaluations, write reports and facilitate/participate in Individual Education Plans.

      In terms of advice, talk to some more teachers and SLPs. Then, consider what you need for self-preservation. Good luck on your future endeavors, Amanda.

  21. Yilliang Peng February 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing about your day as a speech pathologist. My wife is truly considering becoming a speech pathologist and I am really excited to show her this post. I never knew that speech pathologists were so busy! Do you like what you do?

    • March 10, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      I will say that I am a part of the best profession in the world. The work is meaningful. I will also say that the work is hard; however, all important things are take great effort. Good luck to your family as you potentially embark on this new journey.

  22. July 16, 2017 at 1:41 am #

    Hi! I am currently a high school student in Australia and there seems to be lots of pressure on choosing a career path. Being in year 10, I have a long time to decide but it seems as though SLP incorporates everything I enjoy at school. I am not very familiar with the occupation so I have a few questions and it would be extremely helpful if you could answer them! Mainly, I was wondering how you managed your time, whether you get much time to yourself and how stressful the job can be? I’m also a little uncertain about what the actual procedures of a speech pathologist include and what studying in uni/ college was like (sorry if that’s a bit vague). I have quite a few questions so sorry about that but I would love to hear from someone who is so passionate about their job!
    – Ella

    • July 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

      Hi Ella,
      Your questions are great but hard to quantify. Yes, there is some stress involved with the job, like any, but the rewards are great. Yes, we have control of our time but the first couple years are daunting because there is so much to learn. That being said, you are looking into a really great profession. The one piece of advice that I think is the most beneficial is to find an SLP in your community and ask if you can shadow them for the day. You are right that it takes a healthy amount of schooling (and money!) to join any health profession. When I was in grad school, a classmate worked part time in an SLP practice for a summer and really go to know the field. Others who were in clinic offices saw social workers, OTs, and PTs and new EXACTLY what they wanted to do before they started college. There resume was outstanding by the way with this experience and their questions during school were spot on. You can contact a local SLP community and someone would love to have you “shadow” for a day. And! Most importantly, most adults don’t know what they really want to do until they are in their 30s. Scarrrryyyy. I know, but the truth. If you don’t know what you want to do yet, don’t sweat it.

  23. August 29, 2019 at 7:43 am #

    Hi I am a freshman in college, and considering going into the speech path, I am really confused as to what classes I should be taking for my perquisites, can you please help? I am also a psychology major.

    Thanks, Aneesa

    • August 29, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

      Hi Aneesa! Each college has specified requirements for a Communication Sciences and Disorders degree. I would check with your adviser first. For me, at UT-Austin, there were required courses (foreign language, science, math, etc, courses within the major) and then I got to choose more elective classes to support my degree. I made a choice to take American Sign Language, a psychology course, and classes on human communication and non-verbal communication. Also, as a psychology major, you will need to take leveling courses to get into graduate school for ComDis. There should also be information on that within the ComDis graduate department. By taking some of those courses now as an undergrad, you could save yourself one year of graduate school. Typically, it takes two years of graduate school if you majored in ComDis in your undergraduate studies. Typically, an additional year is added if you had a different major. Good luck in your endeavors.

  24. May 20, 2020 at 9:40 pm #

    Hello, I am just finishing a bachelors degree in education and am thinking about going into school based speech language pathology. Could you please explain a little bit more about how an slp fits in with the school’s routine? Do you do lunch duty, or after school activities? Are you able to do after school activities If you want to? Thank you!
    Jacqui

  25. September 17, 2020 at 10:22 am #

    Hiya, My name is Jay and I just recently graduated as a Speech and Language Therapist earlier this year.

    I just wanted to ask what is the best way to find out which field you would like to work in? Or what did you use to help you find the field most suitable for you. Luckily my university did provide placements and we worked with both Adults and Children so from those placements I was able to decide that I do prefer working in paediatrics but I’m unsure of how to find which environment would be best for me. Any tips for a recently graduated SLT would be greatly appreciated.

    Also is it possible to find a rotational or bank band 5 SLT job within the NHS? I’ve found band 6 but I’m not sure if it is an option for band 5/graduates. And would you recommend this for a graduate?

    Thank you.
    Jay

    • September 17, 2020 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Jay,
      Congratulations on your graduation! One of the great things about our field is that we are able to work in a variety of settings but that does make it more challenging to figure out exactly which one is best for you. I would recommend asking people if you can shadow them for a few days so you can get a sense of the different settings.

      I am not familiar with bank bands you mentioned so I can’t help you with that part.

      If you are not yet familiar with our free resources page, be sure to check it out. It has loads of resources that you will find helpful in your new job.

      Best of luck to you!
      Ellen

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