Unlocking the Speech Therapy Travel Job Market

Unlocking the Speech Therapy Travel Job Market

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The world of speech therapy provides multiple avenues for passionate practitioners. Amongst these, the role of a Travel Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) has emerged as a notable path for many. Is it the allure of working in new environments, or does it have more to do with earning potential? In this in-depth discussion, we'll review the salary, work environment, unique characteristics, and educational requirements of a Travel versus Regular Speech Language Pathologist. Plus, we'll compare this career with others in the allied medical travel professions. Join us as we delve into the exciting career of a Travel SLP.

What Does the Speech Therapist Travel Job Outlook & Salary Look Like?

The career outlook for speech-language pathologists in general is quite positive, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 23% job growth between 2020 and 2030. This is much faster than average across all occupations. However, the prospects for travel speech therapists are even more promising due to the high demand for their flexible, temporary services.

Travel SLPs can expect to earn a higher salary than traditional speech therapists. The average pay for a travel SLP ranges from $60,000-$80,000 per year, sometimes over $100,000 for experienced therapists willing to take on extra assignments. Compare this to the median salary for all speech-language pathologists of around $80,480 per year according to 2021 BLS data.


What is the Average Salary for a Travel SLP?

The average salary for a travel speech therapist falls between $60,000 and $80,000 annually. However, there is a wide range based on experience, certifications, types of facilities worked, and geographic regions.

For example, a travel SLP just starting out can expect to earn around $60,000 per year if working at schools and outpatient clinics. More experienced travel therapists who take on hospital and skilled nursing assignments may earn over $80,000. Those willing to travel to very remote or undesirable locations can make over $100,000.

How Does the Career Outlook for a Travel SLP Compare to a Regular Speech Pathologist?

The career outlook for travel speech therapists is extremely strong. While the overall job growth for speech pathologists is projected at 23% through 2030, the demand for travel SLPs in particular is rapidly increasing.

Healthcare facilities need the flexible support travel therapists provide to fill in for leaves, vacations, and staffing shortages. Many travel companies report the number of assignments for SLPs has doubled in recent years. There is no expectation of this demand decreasing anytime soon.

What Factors Influence the Earning Potential for a Speech Therapist?

There are several key factors that impact how much a travel SLP can earn:

  • Years of experience - more experienced SLPs earn higher pay
  • Types of facilities - hospitals pay more than schools
  • Geographic region - higher pay for less desirable locations
  • Certifications - specialized certs increase pay
  • Flexibility - taking on more assignments means more pay
  • Contract negotiations - higher pay for longer contracts

The top earning travel speech therapists are those with 5+ years experience, willing to take on hospital contracts in locations with staff shortages, for longer periods of time (13 week+ contracts). Specialized certifications like dysphagia expertise also command higher pay in travel roles.

Why Choose a Career as a Travel Speech Language Pathologist?

What are the Unique Work Environment Aspects of Travel SLPs?

There are several unique work environment factors for travel speech therapists compared to traditional permanent roles:

  • Get to work in new facilities and locations frequently
  • Experience new cities and towns as part of the job
  • Typically no duties outside of patient care (no meetings, paperwork)
  • Greater autonomy and independence
  • Flexible schedule as assignments end
  • Higher pay for less predictable work

Travel SLPs need to be comfortable with the uncertainty of changing locations frequently. However, this provides the advantage of continual new experiences without being tied down.

Why would a Speech Therapist Choose the Path of a Travel SLP?

There are many potential motivations for a speech pathologist to pursue travel therapy roles:

  • Earn a higher salary
  • Gain experience in different settings
  • Have a flexible schedule with time off between contracts
  • Work in new cities/states across the country
  • Try out different locations before settling down
  • Advance clinical skills with exposure to new cases
  • No workplace politics or bureaucracy

Travel allows SLPs to explore while advancing their career and earning great pay. It provides a change of pace from the limitations of permanent jobs.

How is a Travel Speech Language Pathologist Job Different from Regular Speech Therapy Roles?

There are some key differences between being a travel SLP versus working a permanent job:

  • Travel between assignments, don't have one set workplace
  • Temporary 13 week contracts rather than permanent employment
  • Typically no administrative duties
  • Greater flexibility and autonomy
  • Higher pay to compensate for travel
  • Less stability but more adventure
  • New experiences instead of set routines

The life of a travel therapist allows more freedom and much higher pay, but requires comfort with frequent changes and flexibility. It's ideal for SLPs who crave new experiences and challenges.

What Educational Pathways Lead to a Career in Travel Speech Therapy?

To become a travel speech-language pathologist (SLP), you must first earn a master's degree in speech-language pathology. There are several educational pathways that can lead to this career:

Complete an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders or speech-language pathology. Many universities offer bachelor's degrees specifically tailored for students interested in eventually pursuing a master's in the field. Coursework typically includes classes in linguistics, anatomy, physiology, and introductory topics in speech disorders.

Major in a related field and minor in communication sciences. Some students choose to major in a field like psychology, human development, or education, while minoring in communication sciences. This provides a strong liberal arts background while still completing prerequisites for a graduate program.

Complete prerequisite coursework as a post-baccalaureate student. If you hold a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, look for schools that offer leveling coursework for non-majors. You can complete any prerequisite classes you're missing before applying to master's programs.

Once you've completed an undergraduate education, you'll apply to accredited master's programs in speech-language pathology. Graduate courseworkdeepens your knowledge in areas like language disorders, motor speech disorders, swallowing disorders, and clinical methods. Most programs include clinical rotations where you'll get hands-on experience evaluating and treating patients under supervisor.

After earning a master's degree and completing a clinical fellowship, you'll be eligible for national certification and state licensure as an SLP. From there, you can search for travel therapy jobs that allow you to provide speech therapy services while traveling across the country!

What are the Requirements of an Online Master's in Speech Pathology for a Career as a Travel SLP?

An online speech pathology master's program must meet the same academic and clinical standards as traditional programs to prepare you for national certification. Here are some key requirements to look for:

Accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation. Make sure any graduate program you consider holds valid accreditation for training speech-language pathologists.

Extensive coursework in assessment and intervention. Your classes should cover diagnosis and treatment for a wide variety of communication and swallowing disorders across different age groups.

At least 400 hours of supervised clinical rotations. You'll need to complete clinical hours across various settings like schools, hospitals, and clinics.

Capstone research project. Most programs require completion of a data-driven research study and paper under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Student teaching opportunities. Look for a program that can help arrange local school placements for any required student teaching assignments.

One benefit of an online program is the flexibility to complete your degree while working. This can help offset costs and provide exposure to clinical settings in your area.

How Does Online Education Support Career Growth in Speech Therapy?

Pursuing online education as a speech therapist provides several advantages for career advancement:

Convenient access to continuing education. Online CEUs allow working SLPs to stay updated on emerging research and best practices without extensive travel.

Opportunities to specialize. Post-graduate online certificates and doctorates offer the chance to gain expertise in niche areas like voice disorders, bilingual speech therapy, dysphagia, and more.

Networking and collaboration. Digital learning platforms connect you to peers and mentors across the country to share knowledge and experiences.

Job mobility. The flexibility of online education allows you to continue advancing your education and career while relocating or working as a travel SLP.

No disruption to work. The remote format prevents having to take time off for education - you can study and complete assignments outside of working hours.

From clinical fellowships to PhDs, online options make continuing education more accessible for speech therapists at any stage of their career. This supports increased earning potential and leadership opportunities in the field.

How can Applied Behavior Analysis Enrich the Career Path of a Speech Therapist?

Pursuing training in applied behavior analysis (ABA) can expand a speech therapist's skill set and job opportunities. Here are some of the benefits:

Tools to improve communication and language skills. ABA utilizes reinforcement, prompting, and other techniques that can complement speech therapy when working with children with autism or developmental delays.

Assessment of challenging behaviors. Training in functional behavior assessments allows SLPs to analyze and modify behaviors that interfere with communication progress.

Collaboration with behavioral analysts. Shared knowledge of ABA facilitates effective interface with behavior therapists as part of an interdisciplinary care team.

Employer demand. ABA training provides an advantage for SLP jobseekers, as more facilities want clinicians cross-trained in both disciplines.

Dual credentialing. SLPs can pursue certification as Board Certified Behavior Analysts to provide standalone ABA therapy.

Career advancement. Supervisory and leadership roles in ABA may become available to experienced SLPs with this augmented expertise.

While graduate programs are adding ABA coursework, SLPs can also obtain training through certificates, seminars, and supervised fieldwork. Expanding your capabilities with applied behavior analysis enhances clinical practice and job prospects.

How Does a Career as a Travel SLP Compare to Other Allied Travel Careers?

What are the Average Annual Salaries in Allied Travel Professions like Occupational Therapy and Nurse Practitioner?

Here are average salary ranges for some of the top allied healthcare travel professions:

  • Travel speech-language pathologist: $60,000 - $80,000
  • Travel occupational therapist: $70,000 - $90,000
  • Travel physical therapist: $75,000 - $100,000
  • Travel nurse practitioner: $90,000 - $120,000
  • Travel physician assistant: $100,000 - $130,000

*Salaries are influenced by factors like certifications, work setting, geographic region, and years of experience.

Working as a travel SLP can be one of the more lucrative paths early in your career. With a lowerbarrier to entry than some clinical doctorate professions, combined with high demand, travel speech therapy offers strong earning potential right out of graduate school.

How Does the Job Growth Forecast Look for Other Travel Jobs in the Medical Field?

The latest employment projections bode well for increased opportunities in travel healthcare roles:

  • Occupational therapist jobs expected to grow 16% from 2020-2030
  • Physical therapist jobs expected to grow 18% from 2020-2030
  • Nurse practitioner jobs expected to grow 45% from 2020-2030
  • Physician assistant jobs expected to grow 31% from 2020-2030

All of these fields are predicted to grow much faster than the average across all occupations. The rapidly expanding healthcare sector, aging population, and clinical staffing shortages signal strong continued demand for travel allied health professionals.

How Does the Work Environment in Travel Speech Therapy Compare to that of a Travel Nurse or Other Allied Travels Professions?

There are some key differences in the typical work settings and conditions between travel SLPs and other traveling health providers:

  • Travel SLPs often work in school settings rather than hospitals or medical clinics.
  • The patients of travel SLPs are more commonly pediatric versus adult.
  • Travel SLPs tend to work daytime hours rather than shifts on nights/weekends.
  • Travel nurses deal with more urgent acute illnesses and hospital politics.
  • Travel physical and occupational therapists may face higher productivity quotas.

However, travel SLPs share the same benefits as other allied travelers when it comes to schedule flexibility, freedom in choosing assignments, and variety of locations. Overall, travel speech therapy offers a great balance of career growth and enhanced quality of life.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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