Proper speech and communication skills are essential in most careers. Those who have speech problems face major disadvantages for employment and in socializing with others. Some may even be teased or become withdrawn from social settings. As a speech pathologist -- also known as speech-language pathologist -- you are the professional who diagnoses speech problems and helps children and adults correct them. And for your efforts, you can earn an above-average yearly income.
Average Salary & Benefits
Speech pathologists earned average yearly incomes of $72,000 as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are among the top 10 percent in earnings, you would make more than $106,530 per year. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $44,250 annually. Incomes for these professionals are dictated by experience, size of employer and geographical location. Since you are likely to work full time as a speech pathologist, as most do, you may receive comprehensive benefits such as medical insurance, paid time off and a retirement plan.
Average Salary by Industry
Salaries for speech pathologists vary significantly by industry. The highest salaries for these professionals are in scientific research and development services, medical and diagnostic labs and home health care services industries -- $146,810, $141,760 and $89,830 per year, respectively -- according to the BLS. Your yearly income would be closer to the national average if you worked in a general and surgical hospital at $74,390 per year. And you would earn somewhat less as an elementary or secondary school speech pathologist at $66,000 per year.
Average Salary by State
If you can handle extremely cold and dark winters, move to Alaska, as speech pathologists earned the highest annual average salaries there at $87,950 in May 2011, reports the BLS. They also earned relatively high salaries in New Jersey and California -- $85,350 and $83,710 per year, respectively. You would make closer to an average speech pathologist salary of $72,580 per year in Illinois, and considerable less in West Virginia at $60,360 per year.
The BLS reported that jobs for speech-language pathologists are expected to increase 23 percent between 2010 and 2020, which is faster than the 14 percent national average for all occupations. Many of these jobs will be created because of aging baby boomers, who risk speech problems related to strokes and hearing loss. A greater awareness of speech and language problems -- such as stuttering -- among school-age kids is also expected to spur employment growth for speech pathologists.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Speech-Language Pathologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Speech-Language Pathologists
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Fact Sheet for Speech-Language Pathology
- U.S. News & World Report: Speech-Language Pathologist