Speech Pathology is a career that will keep you on your toes – it requires creativity, clinical reasoning and compassion aplenty. If you’re a qualified Speech Pathologist and have recently found yourself considering your options for the future, you’ve come to the right place.
Here at SpeechEase Speech Therapy, we’re all about supporting our clinicians to build the career pathway that’s right for them. Everyone is different, so it makes sense that we all want different things from our Speech Pathology career!
In today’s blog, we’re going to take you through a variety of unique career pathways for Speech Pathologists. Hopefully, you’ll walk away from this with something to explore further to help you make the next stage of your Speech Pathology career as inspiring and rewarding as it can be.
Keep on reading to explore five potential career pathways for Speech Pathologists.
5 Rewarding Career Pathways for Speech Pathologists
Are you a results-driven clinician with a drive to be at the top of your game in the areas of Speech Pathology that you practice within? Whether you’re a paediatric, adult, or mixed-caseload kind of speechie, you can work towards achieving clinical excellence as your next career pathway.
Clinical Excellence is about knowing you are providing high-quality, evidence-based and person-centred therapy, getting outcomes (or being able to unpack why outcomes aren’t happening) and feeling comfortable answering questions that come up with minimal stress or anxiety (or knowing where to look/who to go to for those answers!).
There might a particular area of Speech Pathology you want to excel in (e.g. articulation) or there might a more global area that you find fascinating and see how it impacts on multiple areas (e.g. oral motor for articulation and mealtimes). Or, you might see the power of supporting someone to find their voice and shout to the world who they are with AAC. Or you might love the warm and fuzzies you get when a child struggling at school starts to be on the same level with their peers in terms of oral language and literacy. Or you might love it all, like our Director, Kate, who always wanted to be a “specialist generalist” and do it all so she never had two days that looked the same and never got bored! Being a generalist is a clinical excellence skill within itself as you need to be able to work flexibly across all areas of Speech Pathology.
Where to start:
Think about what lights you up and gives your fulfilment – what are the sessions you get excited about doing, who are the clients you get excited to see? What is it about these that light you up? What are the sessions that leave you feeling drained, or you dread having to do? What is it about these that makes you feel like that? Figure out if it’s a genuine anti-passion or lack of knowledge/training in the area and then start to shape your caseload/PD accordingly.
If you find yourself digging through the research, reading (and re-reading!) journal articles, and obsessing over metrics to track your clients’ progress, your next career pathway might be leading towards the research track! We are still such a young profession and there is still so much for us to learn and discover about speech pathology interventions, and much-needed data to gather on the effectiveness of certain approaches so that we can continue to be an evidence-based profession.
Where to start:
While you can typically begin looking for opportunities as a Speech Pathology Research Assistant without further study, it is recommended to explore further education to build your research skills and enhance your understanding of this unique career pathway. If you already hold a Bachelor of Speech Pathology (with honours) or a Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology, you can apply for a PhD in Speech Pathology right away.
A research doctoral degree (e.g., PhD) is required to become a speech pathology researcher. To learn more about this Career Pathway, take a look at this helpful guide from ASHA.
If you’ve been working clinically for a while now and have naturally started to be sought out for clinical guidance from your peers (and new grads that join your team), you might already be on your way to a brand-new career pathway.
Stepping into clinical leadership is exciting, challenging, and oh-so rewarding. If you want to help the future of our profession (aka students) or your team grow and carve out a leadership role for yourself within Speech Pathology, becoming a clinical educator, mentor or lead is a great place to start.
Where to start:
The first step in getting on the path to being a clinical lead is to have a chat to your current employer! If you’re already taking part in regular supervision, bring it up then. Go into the conversation with an open mind and some talking points like:
- What opportunities you’ve valued and appreciated having so far (that relate to leadership)
- Why you are interested in stepping into a greater team leadership role
- What skills or strengths you will be able to bring to a clinical lead role
One of the first things you’ll likely be tasked with on your journey to Clinical Leadership is running the Clinical Education program within your clinic. This means supporting and guiding students who are on placement at your clinic, and giving them guidance, having them shadow you, and having feedback discussions with them along the way.
Down the track as a clinical lead you’ll typically be required to manage and deliver regular supervision to your team (individual and group), as well as being involved in coordinating development opportunities for the team.
Do you want something that is ‘yours’, but without the full commitment of setting up a private practice? Maybe you want to make a little extra money on the side, or a way to express your creativity and share incredible resources with other Speech Pathologists! If this sounds like you, setting up a side hustle might just be on the cards.
Where to start:
This point may seem obvious, but before you get started with a side hustle, you’ll need to come up with an idea of what exactly you want to do! Will it be a side hustle related to Speech Pathology (like creating resources and selling them on TPT) or do you want to do something totally different, like making cakes for special events? Have a think about your passion areas and what side hustle concepts really light you up.
If you’ve been a client-facing Speech Pathologist for as long as you can remember or you have a entrepreneurial spirit, and you’re ready for a big change, your next career pathway could be in ownership! Owning your own business is a new level of leadership, that’s for sure, but it’s also a step towards building something bigger than just your individual career. If you dream of having your own team and serving your community by reducing waitlist times with greater capacity for service delivery, opening a new clinic could be on the cards.
Where to start:
The first place you should start when considering opening up a private practice of your own is to figure out WHY you want to do it in the first place. Do you want more flexibility with hours? Want to see a more specific caseload? Or do you just want something that is yours? Once you’ve figured this out, consider the time you’ll need to commit to administrative tasks and factoring in things like sick leave, PD, and annual leave for yourself and anyone you hire down the track.
Are the trade-offs of running a business worth it for you, or could you talk to your current employer or another potential employer to get the things you want without needing to commit to opening a business?
If you still want to open your own business, check out the Speech Pathology Australia Private Practice Guide and talk to an accountant to get started.
Have you found a career pathway that has piqued your interest? Now it’s time to get your research on! Look for sources of inspiration (perhaps on LinkedIn!) and find out more about what you need to do to get started on the path towards your dreams.
Speech Pathology is an incredibly rewarding career as it is, but it is *so* much sweeter when you find the pathway that aligns with your values and vision for your future. For more career inspiration take a look at our other blog on career goals for Speech Pathologists.
Keen to find out more about how we support our clinicians’ careers at SpeechEase? Have a read of our Careers page to find out all about it.