So you’ve decided being a Speech and Language Pathologist might be the career calling you’re been waiting for. Now you’re likely mulling it over and having a million thoughts about whether or not it’s the job for you and what kind of investment it would take to become one. Let’s explore that.
First of all, when we talk of investments, it’s not just about money. How long you’ll spend going to school to become a Speech and Language Pathologist is just as important. From start to finish, you can expect to be in school for around seven years if you attend full time. Yes, it’s a lot. A bachelor’s degree is the starting point, but that won’t get you a job in this sought after field. It merely serves as the base of your education where you can introduce yourself to the core conceptions of what a career in your desired field will be like. After earning your bachelor’s, you’ll head off to graduate school for roughly two years before completing a year-long practicum or residency. That’s a big commitment and it takes effort, determination and money.
The financial cost of schooling is just as important. Beyond the average $50,000 spent on attaining a bachelor’s degree from a public university, the cost of a master’s program in speech and language pathology averages around $50,000 per year in tuition alone. By the end of your educational years, you’re looking at well over six figures of debt.
After you graduate with your master’s degree in speech and language pathology—a program that must be certified by the Council on Academic Accreditation—you will have to take and pass the praxis exam for speech pathology. From there, you can begin a residency for 9 to 12 months. These are paid positions, but they don’t pay what a position as an attending, licensed speech and language pathologist would make. After you complete your residency, it’s on to the Certificate of Clinical Competency exam. Upon passing this final test, you will be licensed to practice in the state of your choosing.
The average salary for a speech and language pathologist is around $65,000. Almost all of these positions come with good benefits packages, as well, inclusive of health and dental insurance, 401K savings plans and more. This is a solid career field that makes well enough to save for retirement someday.
That being said, there are certainly regions which pay far less than the average. If you’re planning to live out your days in a rural town deep in the heart of the Midwest where the nearest major medical facility is hours away, it might not be a booming industry to jump into considering the investment it takes to get there. When you factor in the repayment costs for student loans you may incur along the way, what’s leftover of your salary may not be very satisfying. However, it’s important to remember that being a speech and language pathologist is also a very rewarding career that one can be proud. These professionals usually get to know their patients very well and have a strong emotional investment in what they do. Not all compensation comes in the form of dollars. Whether or not the cost is worth it to you is an individual choice you’ll have to make.