What can I expect when becoming a Speech Pathologist? The pros and cons?
I’m currently switching careers into Speech Language Pathology. I’m finishing up my prerequisite courses and is looking to apply for grad school.
The Neurological aspect of both is mind blowing, however.
Visit your grad candidate schools and talk to professors and students. Test the morale. Do NOT rely on admissions to tell you the morale. They lie.
Dont blindly accept a grad school, pick a grad school instructor, hopefully who has published papers. Read the papers, then Talk directly to them. School names, buildings, school colors, town, are all irrelevant. All that matters is who the instructors are and that you have demonstrated to them that you were proactive enough to seek their counsel before accepting admission.
I checked with my niece, who is a Speech Pathologist. I've pasted her answer to your question down below. I hope it helps and I wish you the best!
Overall, the flexibility within speech pathology is a huge pro. You can work with adults or kids on speech, language, cognition, swallowing, fluency, social language, voice, etc. in a variety of settings all with the same Masters degree. It is really nice that you don’t need to pick a specialty at any time and can switch settings when you need a change.
Another great thing about being a speech-language pathologist is that you can use creativity to find different ways to help different people, but there’s also a structure to the work that we do. I really appreciate that balance. The specific pros and cons of speech pathology really come down to what setting you’re in. For example, in the medical setting, speech therapy is not always valued as highly as other therapies, but sometimes the pay is better (which is often the opposite in the school setting). I would recommend finding a graduate program that offers a variety of clinical internship experience, so you can really discover those nuances for yourself. There is really a setting/patient population for everyone!
I am a SLP that just freshly graduated from my master's program in June. There are several great answers above that cover the pros and cons of speech pathology that are very true! I think if you came from a degree/ or career path that you didn't like and have made the decision to get into speech you should trust your gut and go with it! I've never met an SLP (and I've met several 65-70 yr old speech paths) that regretted their choice. Having taken some pre-reqs you are probably aware that it is a wide scope and there is so much to know (both a pro and con). Every step of the way I've realized that I knew less than I thought I did haha. The pros and cons for me may be different for others but here's what I've found over the last several years of being in the field:
always will have a stable job
always have something to learn
great career for compassionate people that want to make a real impact
you can work as a travel SLP!
Work in the schools and you get a whole summer off (if you don't do extended school year)
Work in private setting and you might get fridays off (4/10s)
Work in hospital setting and see someone eat for the first time after their injury or effectively communicate to their partner for the first time after their stroke
Be able to tell the early warning signs of neurodegenerative diseases/ identify Autism/ know when a child isn't developing normally to help your family and friends
be prepared to go through intense grad school experience ( it is a relatively short in comparison to other specialties and there is still a high expectation that you will be able to have a base knowledge and skill to work across the life span with all disorders.
Internships aren't paid (in grad school)
Reduced pay during CFY
high productivity / not a lot of time for documentation
documentation can bog you down (need to be concise but detailed bc it determines necessity for service to insurance)
very competitive to get in the hospital setting and will more than likely work weekends/ holidays
its a marathon ( you will have moments/days/months you don't feel qualified. I was told it takes about 3 years of being a full licensed SLP to begin to feel comfortable. I'm at this stage so not sure but I expect it to be true)
I've rarely heard people talk about the toll this career can have on a person but I will say that it has heavily impacted me at times. I did an internship at a trauma 2 hospital and saw patients at their lowest moments, some that would never fully recover. I am so thankful and amazed everyday that I get to support others in their road to recovery, but it can be sad/frustrating and overwhelming at times. I think it's common bc most people that get involved in this field deeply care and are driven to support their patients. I just want to point it out and say that its ok to feel down sometimes and that maintaining boundaries/good mental health routines is vital!
Hope this helps! I love seeing new people come into the field!
In my view, the pros of becoming an SLP (speech-language pathologist) are many and the cons are few but significant. Speech pathology is one of the most interesting and rewarding professions there is. The large variety of speech-language issues needing treatment and the wide range of individual presentations will keep you fascinated. Possible settings include schools, clinics, hospitals and medical centers, rehabilitation facilities, private practice, home health and tele-therapy. As noted above and depending upon the setting you choose, you may be able to dictate your own schedule and more often than not, have the independence to design and implement your own programs at your site(s). Whichever workplace you choose will undoubtedly be delighted to have you and there are generally numerous opportunities to collaborate with other professionals. But by far the biggest pro is the honor, pleasure and hard work of helping people remove obstacles caused by their communicative differences, the better to realize their full potential.
Now for the cons: you must take care not to enter into an assignment with too high a caseload and too few SLPs. Burnout rates in some settings can be high if/when SLPs are simply overworked. No matter what setting your choose, there can be a lot of paperwork to keep up with including documentation, assessment administration, scoring and reporting, progress reporting, discharge summaries and seemingly endless Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) should you find yourself in an educational setting. Depending upon your facility, work space may be inadequate, in poor condition or even nonexistent, so that you may have no consistent place to work. Depending upon your position, your salary may be relatively low when compared to other professions with similar educational requirements, such as an MBA or law degree.
Despite the cons though, I've worked as an SLP for over 30 years and heartily recommend this career path as a way to engage in work that has a genuine impact on the lives of your students, clients and/or patients.