Throughout the United States, speech-language pathology demand is growing at an astounding rate. At Loyola, our last three graduating classes have employment rates of 97% to 100%, according to our student outcome data.
It’s not surprising, given that between 2014-2024, an additional 28,900 speech-language pathologists will be needed nationwide—that’s a job growth rate of 21.3% in the industry! And there aren’t enough SLPs to fill all of these positions. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reports fully funded job openings in schools and health care settings—yet employers are having trouble filling them all.
In other words, the job prospects are pretty good just about anywhere in the U.S. But some areas and industries have higher demand than others, and going there can mean greater job security, higher salary, and the chance to do meaningful work with populations who really value what you can offer. If you want to go where speech language pathologists are needed the most, here are some of the specialties, industries, and regions to explore.
Specialty: Elderly Patients
As baby boomers age and their medical needs grow, there’s an increasing need for speech-language pathologists to work with them. Whether elderly patients have had strokes, tumors, traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, the expertise of a speech-language pathologist can help.
Good news if you like to work with children—the demand for pediatric speech-language pathologists is significant. You can work with a variety of pediatric clients, including children born prematurely, those with autism, kids with developmental disorders, or those who have suffered accidents and injuries.
Specialty: Spanish-Speaking Populations
Spanish is the fastest-growing language in the United States, leading to an especially strong need for speech pathologists who are fluent in Spanish. A speech disorder will affect a person’s primary language first, and a speech pathologist can help determine whether a patient has a real disorder, or is just challenged in learning a new language.
In 2014, the ASHA Schools Survey of speech-language pathologists found that in 48% of respondents’ schools, job openings were more numerous than job seekers. The trend is strongest in Mountain and Pacific states (62% and 74%, respectively) than in other states as well as rural areas (54%) and city/urban areas (54%).
Even in school districts in which teachers are being laid off, SLPs have greater job security because their salaries are paid by Medicaid, and federal law provides for students in need to be tested and treated at no charge.
In 2015, the ASHA Health Care Survey of speech-language pathologists found that 32% of respondents’ employers had more job openings than job seekers. This trend is strongest in home health settings and skilled nursing facilities (48% and 37%, respectively), and especially in the Pacific states (41%).
Region: Top 10 States for Number of New Jobs
Each year, these states have a large number of speech-language pathologist job openings. If you want to maximize your chances of finding an open slot, these are the states that need speech pathologists the most, and are the most promising places to look.
1. Texas 760
2. New York 510
3. California 470
4. Florida 410
5. Ohio 270
6. Illinois 250
7. North Carolina 220
8. Pennsylvania 220
9. New Jersey 210
10. Virginia 170
Region: Top 10 States for Job Growth
Living in an area where the industry is growing quickly—no matter the number of jobs in that area—has its own benefits. New positions are opening rapidly, and often, the first place they’ll look for new talent is among other speech-language pathologists in the area. That means you’ll have a choice of employers and the ability to switch jobs or gain promotions quickly.
1. Kentucky 34.6%
2. Texas 32.7%
3. Nevada 29.0%
4. Alabama 28.9%
5. Virginia 28.4%
6. Florida 27.8%
7. Indiana 27.7%
8. Utah 27.5%
9. Maryland 26.9%
10. North Carolina 26.3%
Ready to Begin?
If you’re considering a career in speech-language pathology, we recommend Loyola’s graduate program, where our mission is for you to become an effective and compassionate advocate for persons with communication disorders. Check out our F.A.Q. to learn more about what we offer.