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.