Nationwide, school-based speech language pathologists (SLPs) and speech language pathology assistants (SLPAs) are in high demand. When you decide to bring your specialized skills as an SLP or SLPA into schools to work with students, you can make a profound impact that lasts them the rest of their lives. What’s more, at Cross Country Education, we have school-based SLP jobs and SLPA jobs from the tropics of South Florida and California to the bustling metropolitan areas of the Northeast…and everywhere in between. So, there’s an open road just waiting for you to explore.
Here’s a look at what it’s like to be a school-based speech language pathologist – the daily activities, education requirements, salary, work environment, and job outlook for SLPs and SLPAs – along with information on how you can start your journey toward landing your ideal, school-based speech language pathology job today.
School-based SLPs evaluate, diagnose, treat, and help prevent speech, language, fluency, articulation, cognitive communication, social communication, hearing, and swallowing disorders in children, teens, and young adults. Speech language pathologists and SLP assistants support students so they may have the best possible outcomes in classroom activities, social interaction, learning, and literacy. Students who receive speech and language services typically have plans called individualized education programs (IEPs). IEPs help student support teams, including SLPs, keep up with providing student services, differentiating lessons, documenting outcomes, evaluating student progress, collaborating with teachers, parents, and other professionals, and providing the student with classroom and outside support.
The traditional route to becoming a speech language pathologist is to begin by completing an undergraduate program in communication sciences and disorders (CSD). The next steps are to complete an accredited graduate degree in speech language pathology and often, a post-graduate fellowship. After fulfilling education requirements, graduates take a national exam in speech language pathology and apply for state license as a speech language pathologist.
The path to becoming a SLP assistant varies by state, but begins with an academic degree equivalent to an associate’s degree from a technical training program in SLPA or a bachelor’s degree in an SLP program. The next step is to complete 100 hours of supervised fieldwork and to demonstrate competency in SLPA skills.
One of the perks of working in schools is the schedule! Since SLPs generally follow the school calendar, they can choose to have summers off. And they usually work the same daily hours as teachers. So the median salary for school-based speech language pathologists reflects a 9- or 10-month work schedule: $62,000 in preschools, $62,715 in elementary schools, and $68,000 in secondary schools. SLPs who worked 11 or 12 months had a median salary around $72,000 ( American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). SLPAs typically earn around 60 to 70 percent of SLP salary and may be paid hourly. A number of factors can affect SLP and SLPA pay, including experience, education, and location.
School-based SLPs enjoy professional autonomy, but they also benefit from the camaraderie of being considered part of the school community and the special education team. They may work at only one school or drive to a few different schools in an area. SLPs must keep meticulous records and attend and present at IEP meetings, which can require organization, efficiency, and confidence. The typical day of an SLP or SLPA varies – and can range from working in a quiet, private speech room with one student to observing interactions of a group of students in a bustling classroom. The best SLPs are patient, compassionate, knowledgeable, resourceful, and creative.
Demand is expected to grow 27 percent faster than average for SLPs and 15-21 percent faster than average for SLPAs over the next decade ( BLS). This is an exciting and challenging field with an array of opportunities in public, private, and charter schools, so the career outlook is bright!
Being part of a sought-after field like speech language pathology gives you unlimited options as to where you can take your skills. You have the opportunity to travel to cities and towns that most people will never get to experience. The talented recruiters at Cross Country Education will get to know you and help you find the ideal assignment that meets all of your expectations. Plus, wherever your travels take you, an excellent benefits package will be waiting.
Let Cross Country Education help you meet your goals as a school-based SLP or SLPA.