Speech therapists work with clients in schools, hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and private practice, among other settings. They work with people of all ages who have a speech or language disorder and need help to communicate more effectively in order to increase the quality of their lives.
All speech therapists have at least a master’s degree in a relevant field of study and have passed a national certification exam. Once certified, speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, have the opportunity to take their careers in many different directions.
The average speech therapy salary in the U.S. ranges from $79,000 to $83,000 per year. This number is significantly impacted, however, by factors such as employment setting, geographic location, and years of experience.
A Career as a Speech Therapist
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work with children and adults who have speech, language, communication, or swallowing disorders. They prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat disorders that interfere with the ability to communicate effectively.
To have a career as a speech therapist you must earn a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). In order to get this certificate, you must obtain a graduate degree that covers relevant coursework, complete required clinical experience, and pass the national certification exam.
Types of Speech Therapy Jobs
Speech therapists hold jobs in education, health care, and clinical and research settings. Most SLPs provide direct clinical services to clients, while some fulfill administrative or supervisor roles. SLPs with a PhD may also work as directors of organizations or as professors at the university level.
SLPs primarily work full-time on a salary, though many also work part-time or on a contract basis. Typical speech therapy jobs include providing direct speech therapy services at:
- Rehabilitation centers.
- Nursing homes.
- Private residences.
- Community agencies.
As an SLP, you also have the ability to switch between work settings. Speech therapists can work in an education or hospital setting for many years before deciding to open a private practice. As long as you maintain your CCC-SLP, you will be qualified to work in any setting that is the most appealing to you.
According to U.S. News & World Report , a job as an SLP is ranked as the sixth best job in health care and eighth in the 100 Best Jobs that you could have.
Experienced SLPs find their field to be highly rewarding, as you get to work with people across their entire lifespan. Improving someone’s ability to communicate, no matter what stage of life they are in, helps to improve their overall standard of living.
Speech Therapy Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), SLPs earn an average annual wage of $79,120. The lowest 10% of earners receive $49,840, while the top 10% earn $121,260. Average speech therapy salaries and levels of employment vary by industry.
Other sources, such as Indeed , report the average annual speech therapist salary is closer to $83,000.
The top-paying industries for speech therapists include:
- Management of companies and enterprises, with an average salary of $110,240.
- Child daycare services, with an average salary of $100,690.
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services, with an average salary of $97,700.
- Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly, with an average salary of $97,390.
- Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities), with an average salary of $95,240.
While the above industries pay the most on average for SLPs, they do not necessarily have the highest levels of employment. The industries with the highest levels of employment of speech therapists include:
- Elementary and secondary schools, with an average salary of $74,010.
- Offices of other health practitioners, with an average salary of $86,020.
- General medical and surgical hospitals, with an average salary of $86,160.
- Home health care services, with an average salary of $86,930.
- Nurse care facilities (skilled nursing facilities), (again) with an average salary of $95,420.
Speech Therapy Salaries by State
Just as the industry that you work in affects your salary, so does your geographic location. There is a high demand for SLPs across the country but some states pay more for speech therapy services than others.
According to the BLS, these are the top-paying states for SLPs:
- Connecticut: $101,410
- District of Columbia: $99,430
- New York: $96,770
- New Jersey: $95,710
- California: $92,740
These states employed the greatest number of SLPs in 2019:
- California: $92,740
- Texas: $74,060
- New York: $96,770
- Florida: $80,250
- Illinois: $78,980
The average speech therapy salary by state, as of April 2020, is as follows:
- Alaska: $92,061
- Alabama: $76,951
- Arkansas: $75,740
- Arizona: $81,194
- California: $91,733
- Colorado: $81,878
- Connecticut: $88,859
- District of Columbia: $91,347
- Delaware: $86,231
- Florida: $78,018
- Georgia: $79,455
- Hawaii: $86,165
- Iowa: $78,593
- Idaho: $77,511
- Illinois: $84,342
- Indiana: $80,236
- Kansas: $77,936
- Kentucky: $77,279
- Louisiana: $78,675
- Massachusetts: $89,351
- Maryland: $84,675
- Maine: $79,168
- Michigan: $82,190
- Minnesota: $84,013
- Missouri: $78,265
- Mississippi: $71,448
- Montana: $74,446
- North Carolina: $78,347
- North Dakota: $77,115
- Nebraska: $75,308
- New Hampshire: $83,356
- New Jersey: $90,797
- New Mexico: $75,062
- Nevada: $84,178
- New York: $88,119
- Ohio: $80,186
- Oklahoma: $77,197
- Oregon: $81,796
- Pennsylvania: $81,960
- Rhode Island: $86,559
- South Carolina: $76,868
- South Dakota: $70,298
- Tennessee: $74,610
- Texas: $80,664
- Utah: $77,807
- Virginia: $81,632
- Vermont: $79,086
- Washington: $87,709
- Wisconsin: $80,893
- West Virginia: $72,762
- Wyoming: $73,091
Earn More as a Speech Therapist
If you wish to earn more as a speech therapist, you may consider a few factors. Employment setting, geographic location, and years of experience all impact average reported salaries of SLPs across the U.S.
No matter where you work, gaining years of experience adds to your salary. According to May 2020 data collected by Indeed, average SLP salaries grow over time as follows:
- Entry-level: $77,495 per year
- 1 to 2 years of experience: $80,105 per year
- 3 to 5 years of experience: $95, 816 per year
- 6 to 9 years of experience: $96,963 per year
Many of the high-paying speech therapist positions are in large companies or agencies that provide speech therapy services. Top companies for speech therapists across the U.S. include the following:
- Legendary Therapy
- Positive Outcomes
- Infinite Services, Inc.
- Therapy Source, Inc.
- Futures Education
- Hearing and Speech Center of Florida
- Progressive Therapy
- Baio Enterprises, Inc.
- Baio Enterprises, Inc.
- Therapy Matters, Inc.
- Taylor Made Therapies
If you have the ability to relocate for your job, the following cities are the highest paying cities for SLPs:
- Philadelphia, PA: $190,405
- Brooklyn, NY: $142,834
- Chicago, IL: $124,724
- Los Angeles, CA: $118,170
- Dallas, TX: $116,449
- New York, NY: $89,889
- Denver, CO: $82,113
- Houston, TX: $79,731
Speech Therapy Job Trends
The job outlook for speech therapists in the United States is strong. The demand for speech therapy services continues to increase each year.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the profession of speech therapy is expanding for a number of reasons, including:
- An increase in the aging population.
- Better survival rates of preterm infants.
- Better survival rates of trauma and stroke patients.
- Growth in elementary and secondary schools.
- Greater demand in health care settings.
- Greater demand for private practice services.
The BLS predicts a 27% job growth for SLPs by 2028, which is much higher than the national job growth average of 5%. The projected employment level for SLPs is 195,600 by 2028, or 41,900 SLP jobs added between 2018 and 2028.
As the awareness of speech and language disorders grows and a greater portion of society can benefit from speech services, the need for qualified SLPs grows too. Additionally, the more flexible you are as a SLP regarding job setting and location, the greater your job opportunities will be.
- Speech and Language Pathologist Salary in the United States . (April 2020). Salary.
- Speech Language Pathologist. (May 2020). Indeed.
- Speech-Language Pathologists . American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
- Speech-Language Pathologists: Job Outlook . (April 2020). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Speech-Language Pathologist Overview . U.S. News & World Report.