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Career Outlook in communication
Sciences and Disorders

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists assess, treat, and provide necessary medical referrals for persons with hearing problems or speech and language disorders, respectively. Both professionals are employed in a wide variety of settings including schools, clinics, hospitals, medical offices, short- and long-term rehabilitation centers, industry and business, private practice, government agencies, as well as in colleges and universities. To learn more about the CSD professions and how to have a rewarding career, please visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Website.

Communication disorders affect persons of all ages and backgrounds, and as such, there are opportunities to work with a diverse patient population or to focus on one or a few special populations (for example, persons with cochlear implants, who stutter, who have difficulty with their balance, who require alternative means of personal communication, or who have a cleft palate or other craniofacial anomalies that affect speech, voice, hearing, or swallowing).

According to the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources that forecast job demand, the current and future career opportunities for audiologists and speech-language pathologists are considered to be excellent due to an increasing emphasis on the early detection of communication disorders, the growing geriatric population, increasing concern over occupational and environmental noise-induced hearing loss, and rapid advances in technology used in diagnosis and treatment. These are among the reasons why CareerCast.com ranked audiology #17 and Speech-Language Pathology #10 on its list of the Top 200 Jobs of 2017.

Audiology

Audiologists work with people of all ages who have hearing, balance, and related ear problems. Using audiometers, computers, and other testing devices, audiologists measure the loudness at which a person begins to hear sounds, the ability to distinguish between sounds, and the impact of hearing loss on an individual’s daily life. In addition, audiologists use computer equipment to evaluate and diagnose balance disorders. Audiologists interpret these results and may coordinate them with medical, educational, and psychological information to make a diagnosis and determine a course of treatment. Many states require that all newborns be screened for hearing loss at birth. Medical advances are improving the survival rates of premature infants and the elderly.

The Occupational Information Network foresees a bright outlook for audiology and the U.S. Department of Labor projects that the employment rate for audiologists for the 10-year timeframe between 2012 and 2022 will increase by 34% (a rate that is “much faster than average”), with the workforce expanding by over 4,000 professionals. Nationally, an audiologist may earn from about $50,000 to over $90,000 per year (see, for instance, ASHA’s 2012 Audiology Salary Survey and the latest data from PayScale.com). CareerCast.com also named audiology one of the top least stressful jobs of 2017, noting that, typically, audiologists are “in control of their schedules and work in a quiet environment, such as a medical office, school or nursing home.”

Types of settings that employ audiologists:


Speech-Language Pathology

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) work with people who cannot produce speech sounds or cannot produce them clearly; those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering; people with voice disorders, such as hoarseness or inappropriate pitch or loudness; those who have problems understanding or expressing language; and those with cognitive communication impairments affecting attention, memory, or problem solving. They also work with people who have feeding and swallowing difficulties. Federal law guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech, language, and swallowing disorders will also increase employment. The number of SLPs in private practice is expected to rise due to the increasing use of contract services by hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities, as well as the increasing demand for direct services to individuals.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the employment rate for SLPs for the 10-year timeframe between 2012 and 2022 will increase by 19% (a rate that is “faster than average”), with the workforce expanding by approximately 26,000 professionals. Nationally, SLPs may earn from about $45,000 to over $90,000 per year, depending on employment setting (see, for instance, salary data from PayScale.com, ASHA’s 2012 Salary Survey for SLPs in Schools, a related report on SLP Salary Trends in School Settings, ASHA’s 2013 Salary Survey for SLPs in Health Care Settings, and a related report on SLP Salary Trends in Health Care Settings).

Types of settings that employ speech-language pathologists:


Academic/Researcher

There is a substantial need for teacher-scholars and researchers within the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. Requiring a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, academics and researchers generate new knowledge in speech, language, or hearing sciences, work to improve the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of communication disorders, and help shape clinical practice by participating in the academic and clinical education of future audiologists and speech-language pathologists.

More information about this exciting career choice is available on the ASHA website. See also the CICSD article Survey on Perspectives of Pursuing a PhD in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Besides, CareerCast.com ranked tenured university professor #6 on the Top 10 Best Jobs of 2017 list.