How Much Do Speech Pathologists Make?

Job location, years of work experience, and employment industry all affect how much speech pathologists are paid.

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by Catherine Lafuente

Published September 12, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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How Much Do Speech Pathologists Make?
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Speech pathology can be a fulfilling career choice for the right person. Those employed in this field spend their days working hands-on with individuals with speech impediments, such as cadence issues, swallowing difficulties, non-verbal tendencies, stammering, and more.

A bachelor's degree in a healthcare field and a graduate speech pathologist degree are required for this occupation, as is passing a licensing exam and fulfilling clinical hours. Continuing education is also required.

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What Is the Average Speech Pathologist Salary?

The median annual speech pathologist salary was $79,060 as of May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Top earners in this field can earn more than $125,560 a year. Working at skilled nursing and residential facilities pays the most, followed by hospitals. Employment in educational services comes in third.

The salary for speech pathologists is also impacted by the level of education a person attains if they occupy an administrator or supervisor position and how many years of experience they have.

Job Growth for Speech Pathologists

Jobs for speech pathologists are projected to increase by 29% from 2020-2030, according to the BLS. This is significantly higher than the projected growth rate of 8% for other professions.

This is driven by two factors: the aging baby boomer population — who will be increasingly prone to conditions like dementia — and wider recognition of speech impediments in young people.

How Much Do Speech Pathologists Make By State?

In addition to experience and a person's position, speech pathology salaries depend greatly on the region where someone is employed. This is because pay for this occupation is better in urban areas than in rural and remote settings.

Cities in the coastal northeast and on the west coast of the U.S. are where the most lucrative speech pathologist jobs can be found, as noted by the BLS.

Speech Pathologist Median Salary by State (2020)

Source: BLS

Where Can I Make the Most Money as a Speech Pathologist?

Highest-Paying States for Speech Pathologists

The states in the U.S. with the best salaries for speech pathologists all have a higher than average cost of living, especially Hawaii, California, and New York. These states also have a significant need for speech pathologists and pay more than the national average. This can offset the high cost of living.

Highest-Paying States
State Annual Mean Salary
California $102,650
Hawaii $100,120
New York $98,850
New Jersey $98,270
District of Columbia $98,240

Source: BLS

Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Speech Pathologists

The highest-paying metropolitan areas for people with speech pathology degrees are all in Northern California, one of the priciest places in the U.S. to live. This means the cost of living can be prohibitive in these cities. However, again, the high rate of compensation for workers – including speech pathologists – in these places can make living here financially manageable.

Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas
Metropolitan Area Annual Mean Salary
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $118,260
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $111,120
Salinas, CA $107,160
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA $106,710
Modesto, CA $106,130

Source: BLS

Highest-Paying Nonmetropolitan Areas for Speech Pathologists

The top nonmetropolitan areas in the U.S. that pay speech pathologists very well run the gamut, from the south to New England to the Pacific Northwest. What these rural areas have in common is a lower cost of living (comparatively speaking) combined with a higher demand for speech pathologists.

Highest-Paying Nonmetropolitan Areas
Nonmetropolitan Areas Annual Mean Salary
Central Louisiana $106,430
North Valley-Northern Mountains Region of California $102,980
North Coast Region of California $99,150
Western Washington $91,860
Massachusetts $91,510

Source: BLS

Highest-Paying Industries for Speech Pathologists

The highest-paying industries for folks with speech pathology degrees tend to exist in administration and supervision positions. Managerial posts both pay and demand the most from workers. Jobs in growing industries, such as working with aging populations and in residential facilities, also have higher salaries than their counterparts.

Highest-Paying Industries
Industry Annual Mean Salary
Management of Companies and Enterprises $113,190
Home Health Care Services $110,850
Individual and Family Services $102,610
Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities) $101,210
Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly $100,120

Source: BLS

How Can I Increase My Salary as a Speech Pathologist?

1 Choose a Specialty

There are several certifications speech pathologists can test for on-the-job after earning their certification of clinical competence in speech-language pathology (CCC-SLP), which most states require for licensure.

These include the following: board-certified specialist in fluency and fluency disorders certification (BCS-F), child language and language disorders certification (BCS-CL), Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT) certification, Lee Silverman voice treatment (LSVT) certification, a board-certified specialist in swallowing and swallowing disorders (BCS-S) certification, and board-certified specialist certification (BCS).

These specializations, along with years of experience, can boost your earning potential.

2 Increase Skills

Speech pathologists in administrative and supervising positions earn the most within the vocation, so cultivating leadership abilities can help increase your earning potential. This can be done during continuing education, which is also required to maintain a CCC-SLP certification.

Record keeping and billing are also important skills for any speech pathologist to hone.

3 Consider Relocating

If you want to increase your salary, California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia pay speech pathologists the most.

However, if you're looking for the best states with high pay and a lower cost of living, consider central Louisiana, some rural areas in California, western Washington, and rural Massachusetts.

4 Change Industries

Speech pathologists who work at skilled nursing facilities have the highest salary. Those employed in hospital settings follow, with jobs in the educational service field coming in last.

If you want to boost your earnings, work

Frequently Asked Questions About Speech Pathologist Salaries

Is becoming a speech pathologist worth it?

The demand for speech pathologists is growing every day, meaning that more and more jobs will be available in this field. Given that and the higher-than-average pay, becoming a speech pathologist is definitely worth it.

Graduate school, clinical hours, and continuing education mean that you have to invest in your speech pathology degree. However, since wages increase the more years you work, there is an adequate payoff.

Just be sure that you enjoy working directly with people, as speech pathology requires spending time with people who can be emotionally intense with special needs.

Where do speech pathologists make the most money?

Speech pathologists make the most money in California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. This is where wages are significantly higher than in any other state in the U.S.

Bear in mind, however, that these states can have a cost of living that is prohibitive, meaning that your dollar simply will not go as far as it would in more affordable regions.

That's why moving to central Louisiana, areas in rural California, western Washington, or rural Massachusetts can be more lucrative in the long run.

Which speech pathologist jobs pay the most?

The speech pathologist jobs that pay the most are those in skilled nursing facilities. These jobs are also increasing in number because of the growing population of baby boomers who will be entering these residences as they age because of conditions like dementia.

Additionally, these positions are proliferating because of the growing awareness of the needs of youth in resident care facilities. Young people with autism also benefit from speech pathology services, which is also contributing to continued and increasing job growth in this sector.

How can a speech pathologist make more money?

There is a three-pronged approach that speech pathologists can take that will allow them to make more money. The first is to move to an area where salaries are the highest. Be mindful that there is a cost of living factor in some places, so a balanced perspective is important here.

Second, speech pathologists can work in industries that pay more, such as in skilled nursing facilities.

The third approach is to use continuing education to add nuance and expertise to their resumes. This refinement can create increased demand due to enhanced qualifications.

What is the highest salary a speech pathologist can make?

The top 10% of speech-language pathologists earn median salaries of over $125,560, which is approximately 10% of the total speech pathology workforce. The majority of speech pathologists who earn this level of income are employed in skilled nursing homes and resident care facilities.

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