What is a Speech Therapist

Speech Therapist (also known as Speech Language PathologistSpeech Pathologist or SLP) is a skilled health professionals specialized in assessment, diagnosis and treatment of people with difficulty in speaking, swallowing or communicating. They work with people who have cognitive impairments, such as memory, attention or problem solving deficits.

Work Environment

Speech therapist work in a variety of different settings. Many are employed in elementary or secondary schools, working with children and adolescents who have difficulty with speech rhythm or fluency. Speech therapists may also work in hospitals or in rehabilitation centers where they treat patients of all ages with speech, communication or cognitive problems. A small number of them work in private practice and home care.

Generally, speech therapist work with each patient individually in a closed environment, such as an office. Depending on the tolerance of their client, treatment session may vary in length.

Work Schedule

The work schedule for speech therapist tends to be one following regular business hours. As speech-language pathology does not tend to have a need in emergency situations, on call time is rare, as is scheduling outside of regular hours; in this manner, it holds more stable expectations than most other aspects of the health care industry.

Mean Annual Speech Therapist Salary

The average annual speech therapist salary is $72,730. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $44,380 and the top 10% makes over $107,650.

Speech Therapist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Mean Salary$72,730 per year
$34.97 per hour
Top 10% Salary$107,650 per year
$51.75 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$44,380 per year
$21.34 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2012121,690

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of speech therapists is expected to grow at a rate of 19%, or 26,000 jobs by year 2022.  Increased awareness of speech and language disorders in young children is projected to lead to an increased need for SLPs. At the same time, aging baby boomers are resulting in more people with health conditions that cause speech or swallowing impairments, such as strokes.

Salary Analysis

The salary of a speech therapist is dependent primarily on industry-specific aspects of the position, as well as experience. The metropolitan location in which they work has a significant influence as well, offering differences of more than $50,000. These professionals can make an average of $72,730.

As most speech therapists have a similar education, this is not a defining factor in salary, nor is specialization; most speech therapists tend to work with a wide variety of speech problems, and the field does not have specific specializations beyond age-related comfort of the therapist themselves. Some therapists prefer to work with children, and will find schools a better fit than a hospital.

Education and Specialization 

A speech therapists requires a master’s degree in speech pathology, followed by certification and licensing as a speech therapist. This is true in almost every jurisdiction, so educational differences have little bearing on speech therapist salary.

While there is little specialization in the education of a speech therapist, the area in which he or she works does have a strong influence on their salary. A speech therapist working in the public school system will earn an average of $66,440, somewhat below the average, whereas a speech therapist salary in a general hospital is $75,700, just above the average. While this isn’t attributable to a specific specialization, the choice of people with whom the therapist wishes to work is a particular factor.

Experience and Position 

Like all fields, experience is a factor in determining salary. However, with the differences made in geographic location and industry specifics, it is not a primary factor. General experience, and time in a particular position, will offer similar wage increases as other positions.

There are some managerial positions for speech therapists, however improvements in position are a minor factor for salary considerations.


With a large number of potential industries in which a speech therapist can work, this is one of the factors more strongly influencing salary. As mentioned, schools will come in under the average, while general hospitals slightly improve on it. Child day care positions show a great increase, offering an average salary of $87,370. Home health care services improve upon this, showing an average salary of $91,220. However, the highest paying side of the industry is in other ambulatory health care services, with a mean wage of $105,800, or around $30,000 above the average.


The geographic location also has a significant impact on their wage, with the highest paying states offering approximately $10,000 more than the average. District of Columbia wage offerings are the highest, at $86,220, followed by New Jersey at $84,660, and Colorado at $83,780. A more focused look at metropolitan areas, however, reveals even greater gains to be had, with Sherman-Denison, Texas, topping the salary averages at approximately $101,530.

Speech Therapist Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying States Top Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Sherman-Denison, TX; $101,530District of Columbia: $86,220Other Ambulatory Health Care Services: $105,800California: (11,100 jobs) $83,710
New Bedford, MA: $94,850New Jersey: $84,660Home Health Care Services: $91,220Texas: (11,100 jobs) $71,010
Bowling Green, KY: $93,200Colorado: $83,780Child Day Care Services: $87,370New York: (9,220 jobs) $78,360
Ocala, FL: $92,980California: $83,710Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities: $86,490Illinois: (8,070 jobs) $73,230
Chico, CA: $92,880Maryland: $81,180Social Advocacy Organizations: $86,240Florida: (6,310 jobs) $70,610

Speech Language Pathologist Salary State by State