Speech-language pathologists work with children and adults to assess the ability to talk and swallow. Bilingual therapists communicate in English and a second language, often Spanish, to aid this assessment. Schools with large populations of non-English speaking children often seek bilingual speech therapists to work with students to develop their speaking skills. Diagnosing and treating children with speech difficulties, such as stuttering or the inability to pronounce certain words, is most effective if the therapy begins when children are still young. Bilingual speech therapists, usually known as speech pathologists, can command high salaries, depending upon their level of experience.
Speech Pathologist Pay:
The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2010, speech language pathologists earned a median wage of $66,920 a year. Half of therapists made more than this amount and half less. Wages ranged from a low of $42,970 a year to a high of $103,630 a year. The Department of Labor figures don’t distinguish between bilingual and English-only speech therapists.
Bilingual Speech Therapists in Schools:
Speech-language pathologists in schools work with children to overcome speech impediments and other barriers to speech. A 2012 advertisement seeking a bilingual speech pathologist to perform assessments for Washington, D.C. public schools offered a salary of between $60,799 and $85,325 annually, depending upon the experience of the person hired. In 2010 the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association conducted a survey of the salaries of speech-language pathologists in schools and found that for a nine- to 10-month school year, pathologists in elementary schools earned an average of $58,000 a year in elementary schools and $61,000 in secondary schools. Therapists with more experience earned more. Those with 28 or more years of experience earned $78,304 a year in secondary school positions. Therapists in New Jersey earned the highest average, $80,000 a year. Those in Missouri reported the lowest average, $44,000 a year. Only one percent of those surveyed received any kind of supplement or bonus for providing
Therapists in Clinical Settings:
In 2011, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association conducted a salary survey of speech language pathologists who worked in clinical settings. Therapists in clinical settings work in hospitals, clinics or nursing homes, often with the elderly, on speech and swallowing issues. The median salary for these therapists was $70,000 a year. Those in outpatient clinics made the lowest median annual salary, $61,000, while those in skilled nursing facilities made the highest -- a median rate of $81,681. Lowest wages were in the Midwest, with an annual average of $65,000, compared to $80,00 in the west. Those with one to three years of experiences earned just more than $58,000 a year. Those with 31 or more years of experience earned $88,750 a year. No distinction was made for therapists with bilingual certification.
Requirements and Outlook:
Speech-language pathologists need a minimum of a master’s degree to practice. Most states also require that pathologists pass a licensing exam and maintain their license with regular continuing education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of jobs for speech-language pathologists will grow about 23 percent between 2010 and 2020. That's faster than the rate of growth for other jobs.