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Audiologists and speech-language pathologists have fairly different roles but often work together, tracking the progress of clients, making adjustments to any medical devices and providing the appropriate therapy.
Audiologists are concerned with diagnosing, managing, and treating a patient’s balance, hearing, and any other ear related problems. They use computers, audiometers, and related devices for testing patients’ balance and hearing ability. They determine the extent to which a patient’s hearing ability may be damaged and also investigate its cause. More specifically, they measure the volume at which a patient may begin to hear sounds as well as how well they can distinguish between different sounds.
Typical duties of an audiologist may include:
- Examining patients who have balance, hearing, or ear problems
- Assessing the results of the examination and diagnosing problems
- Determining and administering treatment to meet the goals of patients
- Treating patients for tinnitus, a condition that might cause ringing in the ear
- Fitting and dispensing hearing aids
- Teaching patients and families to communicate using different technology or lip reading
- Recording patient progress
- Researching the causes and treatment of balance and disorders
- Educating patients about the ways through which hearing loss can be prevented.
Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, assess, diagnose, treat, and help prevent swallowing and communication disorders in adults and children. Language, swallowing, and speech disorders might result from a wide range of causes, such as brain injury, a stroke, hearing loss, Parkinson’s disease, developmental delay, autism, or a cleft palate. Speech therapists work with patients who may be experiencing difficulty understanding language, speech, or those who may have voice disorders such as a harsh voice or an inappropriate pitch.
Typical duties of speech-language pathologists may include:
- Evaluating levels of language, swallowing, or speech difficulty
- Identifying treatment options
- Creating and carrying out individualized treatment plans, addressing specific functional needs
- Teaching adults and children how to make sounds and improving their voices and maintaining fluency
- Helping individuals in improving vocabulary
- Working with adults and children to strengthen the muscles that are used to swallow
- Counseling individuals and their families on how to cope with swallowing and communication disorders.
In general, here is a breakdown of the 154,360 speech-language pathologists’ and 13,590 audiologists’ salaries in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019):
|Number of Professionals Employed||154,360||13,590|
|50th Percentile (Median)||$79,120||$77,600|
Some states do not require audiologists or speech-language pathologists to be certified. However, employers typically prefer hiring certified professionals. Certification can be obtained through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This organization awards the Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) certification for audiologists and the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) for speech-language pathologists.
Speech-language pathologists also have the option of earning a speciality certification in swallowing, child language, or fluency. Three organizations offering specialty certifications are the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders; the American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders; and the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders. Audiologists may also be credentialed through the American Board of Audiology.
US News & World Report (2020) ranks speech-language pathologists at number six and audiologists at number 26 in its “Best Healthcare Jobs.” Those seeking careers as speech-language pathologists or audiologists also can look forward to bright job prospects, as demand for these professions in the United States is growing.
In fact, both these occupations are among the fastest-growing in the United States. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019) shows that the need for speech-language pathologists is growing at a rate of 27 percent (2018 to 2028), while the need for speech-language pathologists is growing at a rate of 27 percent (2018 to 2028). An estimated 41,900 new speech-language pathologist positions are expected to be added by the year 2028, while an estimated 2,200 new audiologist positions are expected to be added.
Read on to learn how much audiologists and speech-language pathologists make, where they are employed, the top-paying clinical specializations, and the top paying industries.
Top-Paying Cities for Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists
Below is a list of the top-paying cities and their corresponding metropolitan areas with the highest salaries for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Also shown are the estimated number of employed professionals (not including self-employed workers), and the annual average salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019).
|Metropolitan area||Number of SLPs employed||Annual mean wage|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||13,240||$104,180|
|Santa Rosa, CA||100||$102,640|
|Metropolitan area||Number of audiologists employed||Annual mean wage|
|Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||60||$120,440|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||220||$118,680|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA||60||$107,310|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||140||$102,560|
|Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA||8||$98,750|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||8||$97,880|
Top-Paying States for Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists
The list below shows the states with the highest average salaries for speech-language pathologists and audiologists and the estimated number of employed professionals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019):
|State||Number of SLPs employed||Annual mean wage|
|District of Columbia||390||$99,430|
|State||Number of audiologists employed||Annual mean wage|
|District of Columbia||110||$96,400|
Top-Paying Specializations for Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists
In order to earn higher salaries, speech-language pathologists and audiologists can specialize in a specific related area. The list below shows five speech-language pathologists and audiologists specializations and their correlating salaries, based on self-reported data from PayScale.com 2020:
|Specialization||Average annual salary|
|Specialization||Average annual salary|
|Diagnosis and Treatment Planning||$67,916|
Top-Paying Industries for Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists
The list below shows the top paying industries for speech-language pathologists and audiologists, based on data from BLS (May 2019).
|Industry||Employment of SLPs||Annual mean wage|
|Management of Companies and Enterprises||770||$110,240|
|Child Day Care Services||1,640||$100,690|
|Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services||70||$97,700|
|Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly||720||$97,390|
|Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)||6,250||$95,420|
|Industry||Employment of audiologists||Annual mean wage|
|Outpatient Care Centers||450||$92,260|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||3,340||$90,650|
|Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing||130||$88,000|
|Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals||180||$87,430|
Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).