Over and over in my discussions with SLPs the message was clear; a great many SLPs are attracted to and stay in the field because it’s so flexible! Different populations, different settings, different work situations are all possible. With between 6-8 million Americans having some sort of language impairment (ASHA publication, “How many people have speech and language disorders?”) that’s a lot of different issues to be tackled!
You’ve worked hard to become a licensed SLP but do you now have the flexibility to stay? A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, conducted between 1978 and 2008 did some really nifty research and here’s what they found; on average we’ll have about 11 jobs before we retire. That’s not to say we’ll switch careers that many times (who could afford it?) but the BLS in the same study also tracked that as of 2008 when the most recent data is available, we’ll stay an average of just 4.1 years with our current employer.
What does this mean for a SLP? It means staying flexible to learning new training techniques, staying up on adaptive technology, keeping current with the latest research. Without that it’s hard to see how it would be possible move to a new population or even a new agency in a mere 4.1 years!