How Much Does a Speech Pathologist Make a Year?

By Kim Franke-Folstad · March 08, 2024 · 7 minute read

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How Much Does a Speech Pathologist Make a Year?

The median annual wage for speech pathologists in the U.S. is $84,140, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But salaries can vary significantly, ranging from less than $56,370 to more than $126,680.

How much money you can make as a speech-language pathologist may depend on several factors, including the industry in which you work, the level of education you attain, and where you live.

Here’s a look at what speech pathologists do and how they are paid.

What Is a Speech Pathologist?

Speech pathologists are health care providers who evaluate, diagnose, and treat children and adults who are experiencing communication difficulties because of speech, language, or voice problems. They also may treat clients who are struggling with developmental delays, memory issues, or who have trouble swallowing.

Speech pathologists typically work in a school, hospital, or rehabilitation/nursing home setting, or they may open their own practice. They often work as part of a multi-disciplinary team that also provides occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other types of care.

All speech pathologists must be licensed. While the qualifications can vary by state, a master’s degree from an accredited university is often required, along with several hours of supervised clinical experience, a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), and a passing grade on a state exam.

Depending on the work you plan to do, other certifications may be required by your employer, including a teaching certificate if you practice in an educational setting.

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How Much Do Starting Speech Pathologists Make a Year?

Speech-language pathologists with one to three years of experience earned a median salary of $74,000 in 2023, according to the ASHA’s SLP Health Care Survey Salary Report. The job site ZipRecruiter lists Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado, Delaware, and Illinois as the states where speech pathologists currently earn the highest entry-level salaries.

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What Is the Average Salary for a Speech Pathologist?

So how much can you expect to make per year if you stay with a career as a speech pathologist?

The 2023 SLP Health Care Survey Salary Report found that several factors can have an impact on speech pathologists’ earnings, including job duties, the type of facility where they’re employed, if they work full- or part-time, if they’re paid a salary vs. hourly wage or on a per-visit basis, and whether they work in a region with a higher cost of living.

Here are the average annual salaries for speech pathologists by state.

Average Speech Pathologist Salary by State

State Average Annual Salary
Alabama $81,140
Alaska $90,279
Arizona $83,423
Arkansas $68,644
California $94,592
Colorado $87,186
Connecticut $80,836
Delaware $82,742
Florida $66,895
Georgia $75,588
Hawaii $87,406
Idaho $90,774
Illinois $80,442
Indiana $85,185
Iowa $80,542
Kansas $75,362
Kentucky $72,228
Louisiana $73,799
Maine $91,996
Maryland $80,211
Massachusetts $90,970
Michigan $72,246
Minnesota $84,527
Mississippi $80,048
Missouri $77,637
Montana $82,167
Nebraska $78,728
Nevada $85,362
New Hampshire $88,375
New Jersey $89,146
New Mexico $84,483
New York $98,990
North Carolina $75,258
North Dakota $89,084
Ohio $82,280
Oklahoma $76,241
Oregon $89,146
Pennsylvania $90,666
Rhode Island $82,571
South Carolina $76,844
South Dakota $84,193
Tennessee $78,555
Texas $90,424
Utah $78,424
Vermont $97,120
Virginia $81,864
Washington $110,930
West Virginia $70,022
Wisconsin $87,933
Wyoming $86,602

Source: ZipRecruiter

Recommended: Cost of Living by State

Speech Pathologists Job Considerations for Pay and Benefits

If you decide speech pathology is the right fit for you, you may not need to worry about job security. The BLS is projecting that employment of speech pathologists will grow by 19% over the next decade, which is much faster than the average for all occupations combined.

Therapists are needed more than ever to assist aging baby boomers and others who’ve experienced a stroke, hearing loss, dementia, or other health-related issues. And there is an increasing need for those who wish to work with kids and adults on the autism spectrum. Therapists are also needed to help children overcome speech impediments and other communication issues.

A career as a speech pathologist also can offer a competitive paycheck. While the BLS reported the median weekly earnings for all full-time workers was $1,145 in the fourth quarter of 2023, the average weekly paycheck for a speech pathologist was $1,652, according to ZipRecruiter.

Of course, the pay and benefits you receive will likely be tied to the job you choose. If you’re employed by a public school district in a rural community, for example, you may not earn as much as a department head at a large health facility in a major city. Still, you can expect to receive benefits similar to other workers in the health-care field, including health insurance, a retirement plan, vacation pay, etc.

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Pros and Cons of a Speech Pathologist’s Salary

Probably the biggest downside of choosing a career as a speech pathologist is the amount of time and money it can take just to get started. After getting your bachelor’s degree, it may take two or more years to complete your master’s degree and clinical training. Depending on the career path you choose, you also may need to earn certain certifications along with your state license to practice. And it may take some time to pay off your student debt.

On the plus side, you’ll be helping others in a career that can be extremely fulfilling, and you can earn a comfortable living while doing so.

Here are some more pros and cons to keep in mind.


•   As a speech pathologist, you will be helping others and, in many cases, changing lives.

•   You’ll be working and networking with other professionals who will help you keep learning.

•   You may be able to design a schedule that fits your needs (especially if you have your own practice).


•   You may have an overwhelming caseload, and the work could be frustrating and stressful at times.

•   You may have to work nights and weekends (even with a job in education or in private practice).

•   The paperwork can be daunting and may require working overtime or taking work home to keep up.

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The Takeaway

Working as a speech pathologist can be professionally rewarding. Not only is the field growing, it tends to pay well, too. However, you can expect to make a substantial investment in time and money before you get the job you want. And how much you earn — especially when starting out — can depend on several factors, including the specialty you choose, who your employer is, and where you’re located.

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Can you make $100,000 a year as a speech pathologist?

Yes. While the median annual wage for speech-language pathologists in the U.S. is $84,140, the highest 10% of earners in this category make six-figure salaries.

Do most speech pathologists enjoy their work?

Speech-language pathologists came in at No. 3 on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of “Best HealthCare Jobs” for 2024 and No. 10 on the news site’s list of “100 Best Jobs.” While the career was rated above average for stress, it received high ratings for both flexibility and opportunities for upward mobility.

Is it hard to get hired as a speech pathologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for speech pathologists is good, and should be solid for the next decade. If you get the proper education and training, and you have a passion for helping others, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find work in this profession.

Photo credit: iStock/akinbostanci

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