Speech and language therapists can expect a highly favorable job outlook in 2011 through at least 2018.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition reports that a "faster than average employment growth" is expected for speech therapists. "Faster than average," according to the BLS, is an increase of 14-19 percent.
In addition, according to the BLS, employment for "speech pathologists is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. As the members of the baby-boom generation continue to age, the possibility of neurological disorders and associated speech, language, and swallowing impairments increases. Medical advances also are improving the survival rate of premature infants and trauma and stroke victims, who then need assessment and sometimes treatment."
The BLS continues: "Employment in educational services will increase with the growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students. The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a Federal law that guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech and language disorders in young children will also increase employment."
Job prospects also look good because many speech therapists will retire in the coming years, according to the BLS. Those speech therapists who speak Spanish also should see their job prospects positive. In addition, those therapists willing to relocate to areas of the country that don't have as many therapists also should have no trouble finding employment.
As for salaries, the BLS reported that "[m]edian annual wages of speech-language pathologists were $62,930 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $50,330 and $79,620. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,220.
Speech therapists who work in nursing care facilities tended to receive the highest salaries; the BLS reported that the average annual median salary for speech therapists serving in nursing care facilities was 79,120 in 2008.