Careers For Clinical Graduate Students

Speech-language pathology graduate programs prepare students to diagnose and treat a variety of speech disorders in children and adults. Communication disorders professionals are eligible for a wide variety of careers in the treatment, diagnosis, and research fields.

In becoming a speech-language pathologist or audiologist, obtaining a graduate degree is the first step. However, graduates also need to be appropriately credentialed (licensed and certified) to practice and there are additional post-graduation steps in order to work as a clinician:

  • Pass the national Praxis examination in speech-language pathology
  • Complete a post-graduate professional work experience (e.g., SLP clinical fellowship)
  • Obtain American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certification / Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC)
  • Obtain a state license and/or school certification (varies by state)

Employment Settings

Professional careers in speech-language pathology and audiology can take individuals to the following employment settings: 

  • Public and private schools
  • Hospitals and rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing care facilities and community clinics
  • Colleges and universities
  • Private practice offices
  • State and local health departments
  • State and federal government agencies
  • Home health agencies (home care)
  • Long-term facilities
  • Adult day care centers
  • Research laboratories and institutes
  • Private industry
  • Nonprofit clinics

Growing Numbers of Certified Professionals

Of the 186,000 professionals currently certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA):

  • 156,254 are certified SLPs
  • 907 hold dual certification as both audiologists and SLPs.

Growing Employment Opportunities

The professions of speech-language pathology and audiology continue to grow and will be among the hottest professions in the country in the next decade!

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook 

  • According to recent employment growth projections, the government expects 14% or higher growth in both profession between 2014-2024
  • They are projecting 63,100 new jobs for SLPs and 6,800 new jobs for Audiologists. 

U.S. News & World Reports 100 Best Jobs 

  • The 2016 report ranks Audiology as #26 and Speech-Language Pathology as #28 in their top 100 list of best jobs

U.S. News & World Reports Best Healthcare Jobs 

  • The 2016 report ranks Audiology as #18 and Speech-Language Pathology as #19 in their list of top healthcare jobs

 Additional information and resources for clinical careers can be found on the ASHA website.

What Do Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) Do?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are healthcare professionals who provide patient-centered care in the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment of speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. SLPs work with the full range and complexity of human communication and swallowing disorders which have medical, psychological, physical, social, educational, and employment implications. They provide professional and personalized services to individuals of all ages in order to minimize the negative impact of these disorders, leading to improved outcomes and quality of life.  SLPs:

  • Evaluate and diagnose speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders
  • Treat speech, language, communication, and swallowing disorders
  • Provide training and education to family/caregivers and other professionals
  • Work collaboratively with professionals from many other disciplines

Additionally, SLPs may:

  • Prepare future professionals in colleges and universities
  • Own or run clinics or private practices
  • Work for national, state, or local associations or agencies
  • Supervise and direct public school or clinical programs
  • Engage in research to enhance knowledge about human communication processes and develop new assessment and treatment methods that may lead to more effective outcomes
  • Provide counseling and consultative services
  • Train and supervise support personnel and future speech-language pathologists

SLPs work in many different research, education, and health care settings with varying roles, levels of responsibility, and client populations. Because of the high demand for speech-language pathology services, part-time, full-time, and "as needed" basis opportunities may be available depending on location, desired facility, employment flexibility, and other factors. In many settings, SLPs often work as part of a collaborative, interdisciplinary team, which may include teachers, physicians, audiologists, psychologists, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, and rehabilitation counselors.

To learn more about SLP careers, visit ASHA's Career Center online.