Last Updated on December 22, 2022
The field of speech language pathology has many alternative career options. A job as a speech language pathologist is varied enough to allow one to choose an area of interest within the profession. Speech-language pathologists work with individuals of all ages who have communication disorders, including stuttering. If you are considering an alternative career as a speech language pathologist, you may be surprised to learn the increasing demand for your services is due to increasing concerns about public health. For example, children with learning disabilities or Down syndrome usually require specialised assessment and therapy.
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Speech language pathologists (SLPs) often have trouble finding work after graduation, but there are plenty of alternative career options for SLPs.
There is a lot of competition in the field of speech-language pathology, and it can be difficult for recent graduates to find jobs.
Oftentimes, SLPs end up working in fields that are not related to their studies, but there are certain skills that will help a speech-language pathologist succeed in an alternative field.
For example, a speech-language pathologist may have good potential as a web designer because they know how to use design software and they understand the importance of well-designed websites.
Audiology and speech pathology jobs
Before Nicole Spruill opened her own practice as a speech and voice coach, she often saw patients with voice injuries in the North Carolina hospital where she worked as a speech language pathologist (SLP). She taught pastors, teachers, cheerleaders and singers to heal vocal nodules and properly use their voices without causing more harm.
Audiologists actually perform many of the same or similar tasks as a speech-language pathologist, but they work with patients who have hearing and/or ear problems instead of those with speech and swallowing issues. These professionals begin by examining their patients through hearing tests and exams to diagnose the problem, and then determine what treatment will be best for each patient, whether it be a hearing aid, implant or other form of treatment. They also educate and talk with the patient and their families about the patient’s condition, various ways to communicate and ways to prevent further hearing damage. Audiologists must meet the licensing requirements for their state of employment and hold a doctorate in the field.
2. Interpreters and Translators
With their interest in communication and speech, speech-language pathologists may enjoy a career as an interpreter or translator. Interpreters specialize in converting spoken or signed language into another language, while translators convert written languages into another language. Interpreters may provide a simultaneous, consecutive or whispered interpretation, but both interpreters and translators need to be clear and accurate as they speak or write the converted language. These professionals must be fluent in at least two languages, hold a bachelor’s degree and complete on-the-job training.
3. Physical Therapists
Speech-language pathologists may be familiar with aspects of physical therapy that they use on their patients, which could prove helpful in a career as a physical therapist. Physical therapists use a variety of therapies, such as hands-on therapy, exercises, stretches and more, to help improve pain or movement in a particular part of their patient’s body. Often their patients are recovering from illness or injury, and these professionals must diagnose the patient’s condition, develop a treatment plan and closely monitor the patient’s progress. Physical therapists must obtain a state license and have a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.
4. Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary
Some speech-language pathologists may wish to pass along their specialized knowledge to a new generation of speech-language pathologists by becoming a postsecondary teacher. At this level educators are expected to teach a variety of courses in their area of expertise, which involves creating their own curriculum and developing assignments and exams. These educators usually are required to conduct research in their field, oversee graduate students, help advise undergraduates and serve on different committees for the institution. Most postsecondary teachers have a doctorate in their field, but some institutions may only require them to have a master’s degree.
5. Recreational Therapists
Speech-language pathologists may also enjoy a career as a recreational therapist to help patients with disabilities, injuries or illnesses grow in their communication and social skills through different activities. Recreational therapists may use activities like aquatics, sports, arts and crafts, music and more to help their patients stay active and emotionally engaged throughout their condition. These therapists try to develop programs to meet the needs of their patients and closely monitor the patients in order to make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. Recreational therapists usually need professional certification and at least a bachelor’s degree.
jobs for aspiring speech pathologists
In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected job opportunities in speech language pathology to grow 27% by 2028, which is much faster than other sectors.
The need for speech pathologists is being driven by a combination of factors including an aging population; increased survival rates for premature infants, trauma victims and stroke victims; increased school enrollments and bilingualism, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Being a speech language pathologist is a fulfilling career, but sometimes it’s nice to mix things up. Here are some alternative career paths that you could pursue using your experience and skills as an SLP:
-Steakhouse server: As a steakhouse server, you can channel your love for communication into improving the dining experience for the restaurant’s guests.
-Used car salesman: As a used car salesman, you can help people find the right car for them and encourage them to make a decision that works best for their needs.
-TV pitchman: As a TV pitchman, you can use your skills to convince viewers why they need to buy whatever product you’re hawking.
-Wedding officiant: As a wedding officiant, you can use your communication skills to conduct the ceremony and ensure all goes smoothly.
career change for speech pathologists
Additional education is not always necessary for SLPs to make a career change, but it can be helpful to take coursework in specific concentrations of speech language pathology to further professional development.
To maintain their certification with ASHA, SLPs are required to complete 30 hours of Certification Maintenance Hours (CMHs) every three years. Concentrating those professional development courses in a preferred area can help SLPs direct their career path toward areas of interest. Working with mentors and taking on side work can also help SLPs transition into new fields.
1. Voice Coach
Voice and speech coaches can train actors, executives and others to reduce their accents, adapt new dialects, and heal and prevent voice injuries by using their voices properly. Although no additional education is required to become a voice coach, Spruill suggests taking continuing education courses in voice and speech. Certifications like the Compton PESL (Pronouncing English as a Second Language) can also help coaches specializing in accent modification.
2. Executive communication coach or corporate SLP
Similar to voice coaches, corporate SLPs train executives to communicate more clearly by addressing vocal misuse, improving social skills and reducing accents. Spruill said she works with a number of executive clients to reduce their accents and adapt regional dialects that make them more relatable to their coworkers and customers.
In addition to speech and voice courses, taking business classes can also help SLPs prepare to work in a corporate setting.
3. Traveling SLP
Traveling SLPs take on temporary assignments in a range of clinical settings domestically and abroad. Traveling positions typically require at least two years of experience working in a permanent clinical setting. Traveling SLPs can work with therapy or medical staffing agencies to secure contracts at hospitals, schools and other facilities that need to fill SLP positions quickly.
4. Researcher or Professor
SLPs in academia can teach other prospective speech pathologists and conduct research in the field of speech language pathology.
Unlike other SLP careers, obtaining an academic position typically requires a PhD. There’s a need for more PhD-prepared SLPs to fill faculty and scientist positions, according to ASHA.