Is a Master of Speech-Language Pathology Worth It?

Speech-language pathologists (SLP) work with children and adults who have difficulties communicating through speech, as a result of causes ranging from injuries to disabilities. Speech language pathologists help the children and adults they work with to improve speech control by forming individualized treatment plans to improve communication. Speech language pathologists also help individuals who have swallowing disorders.

You might be wondering, is a Master of Speech Pathology worth it? Continue reading for information on how a Master of Speech Pathology program can help you achieve your career goals and degree alternatives to consider, as well.

Jumpstart Your Career in Speech Pathology, Explore Online SLP Programs

Online MS: Pursue SLP Certification. Study FT/PT

Speech@Emerson enables you to earn an MS online and pursue SLP certification in as few as 20 mos. Learn the same curriculum as the on-campus program. Study FT or PT.

  • Prepares you to pursue certification as an SLP generalist
  • In-person clinical placements at faculty-approved partner sites
  • As few as 20 months to complete


Want to Become an SLP? Earn an MS Online at NYU

NYU Steinhardt’s online master of science program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders prepares aspiring speech-language pathologists with a comprehensive professional education.

  • Prepares students to pursue SLP licensure 
  • Accredited by ASHA’s Council on Academic Accreditation 
  • As few as six terms to complete 
  • Full-time and part-time plans of study


How to Decide Whether a Master’s in Speech Pathology Is Right for You

The average SLP master’s program takes two years to complete (in a full-time program). Some students choose to participate in Master of Speech Pathology online programs so they can continue to work while they learn and study.

Choosing to attend graduate school at any point is a significant decision since it requires time and financial commitment. Here are three reasons why you might want to attend a Master of Speech Pathology program.

1. You want to help people.

Speaking and communicating are some of the most cherished and valuable skills humans have. Helping others improve these abilities can be a rewarding career path.

Speech pathologists may help those who have never spoken to speak for the first time and begin a path toward regular communication. They help those who have voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch, evolve their speech to closer-to-normal levels. They may help people who have gone through events like a stroke regain the ability to swallow food. The differences a speech pathologist can make are vast.

2. You don’t want to be chained to a desk.

Speech language pathology is a hands-on practice with flexibility in work schedules and environments. Speech language pathologists have the option to work with the schedule they want, whether that’s a normal Monday through Friday workweek or nights and weekends.

Speech language pathologists can work in a variety of settings, from schools to hospitals to clinics. They can evolve their careers to change their work settings and schedule without the need to climb the corporate ladder. Some speech language pathologists choose an entrepreneurial route, opening up their own clinics or becoming independent contractors.

3. You’re a creative problem solver.

Each individual you work with as a speech pathologist will require a unique approach and methods tailored to their situation and needs. Speech pathologists help those they work with set and achieve personal goals. The treatments you recommend are specific to the individual and require adapting and evolving treatments as necessary.

As a speech pathologist, you may be working with children, adults or older individuals who have experienced trauma, stroke, developmental delays, brain injury, hearing loss, autism, cleft palate or a variety of other issues. It’s up to speech language pathologists to recommend effective treatments and help their patients progress in their treatment.

Financial Return on Investment of an SLP Master’s

The financial return on investment of an SLP degree will depend on a number of factors. These include how many hours you plan on working, what type of setting and geographical location you’ll work in, and how many years you will be working.

If job security is something you’re interested in for your career, a speech language pathologist role is promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for speech language pathologists is projected to grow 27% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than average.

How much could a Master of Speech Pathology increase your salary on average?

Again, that depends. Some people leave high-paying corporate careers to pursue speech pathology because they want to make a difference in people’s lives. In some cases, a career as a speech pathologist can mean a significant salary increase.

According to the BLS, the 2018 median annual pay for speech language pathologists was $77,510. The highest 10% earned more than $120,060. The median annual pay for speech language pathologists in nursing and residential career facilities, one of the top industries for the profession, was $94,680 in 2018.

Where you work can influence how much you make as a speech pathologist.

What Are the Benefits of a Master’s in Speech Therapy?

Typically, in order to become a speech pathologist, you need to have a Master of Speech Pathology degree. SLP master’s students take courses such as anatomy and physiology, language development, dysphagia (the science behind swallowing mechanisms) and speech-language disorder intervention. Having a mastery of this knowledge is crucial in speech pathology work.

Getting your master’s, if you don’t already have one, can generally lead to increased earnings and lower unemployment probability. The BLS indicates that the median weekly earnings of those with a master’s degree were $1,434 in 2018, compared to $1,198 for those with a bachelor’s degree. Having your master’s degree in speech pathology can lead to career advancement.

How Does Life Change After an SLP Master’s?

After you have your SLP master’s degree, you’ll be able to apply for roles that require one, as long as you meet the state’s licensure requirements.

With your degree, you’ll be able to apply for jobs in the environments you want, that enable you to work with the populations you want to work with – though it is worth noting that some specialities may hold additional requirements. You may choose to focus on working with kids and students, those who have recently experienced traumatic injuries, older adult populations or another type of group. You may be interested in working in medical facilities, which have their own variety of settings to pursue speech pathology work in.

As you grow a speech pathology career, options become available to move into a different practice area or form your own business related to speech pathology. With the need for speech pathologists increasing at a rapid pace over the next decade, these professionals have an array of career possibilities.

Speech Pathology Alternatives

If you want to help others but aren’t sure if speech pathology is right for you, there are other medical-related degree programs you might consider. Here are some speech pathology degree alternatives.

Doctor in Occupational Therapy

doctorate in occupational therapy (OTD) enables you to become an occupational therapist. OTDs help people with illnesses or special needs to perform daily activities with minimal problems. Occupational therapists also develop individualized plans and help those they work with reach their goals.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is an advanced degree program for physical therapists, who help patients with mobility issues. Physical therapists use rehabilitation, stretching, therapy and exercises to help patients increase mobility and prevent pain and injury.

Doctor in Audiology

The Doctor in Audiology (Au.D.) is a professional degree for audiologists. They work with patients who have ear problems, balance and hearing issues and other concerns. Audiologists may provide patients with hearing aids or counsel patients on ways to communicate, such as lip reading.

Become a Speech Language Pathologist

Speech pathology provides constant new experiences and rewards. Every patient you work with has a unique history and goals they want to achieve. As a speech pathologist, you can help individuals improve their abilities to speak, communicate and swallow. If you want to meaningfully contribute through your work, a career as a speech pathologist may be for you. Master of Speech Pathology online programs enable students to learn and study wherever they are, on a schedule that works for them.