For those who crave the freedom to work outside the confines of a traditional office, a career as a travel speech-language pathologist (SLP) may be the perfect fit. Not only do travel SLPs embark on a rewarding professional journey, but they also enjoy the flexibility of exploring diverse locations and connecting with people from all walks of life. From hospitals and schools to private practices and rehabilitation centers, travel SLPs are in high demand across various clinical environments.
What Sets a Travel Speech-Language Pathologist Apart?
At the core, a speech-language pathologist specializes in assisting individuals who struggle with articulating words or specific sounds. They work with patients facing physical challenges, speech rhythm and fluency issues, voice difficulties, and even accent improvement and feeding and swallowing impairments.
To support their patients’ progress, SLPs meticulously evaluate their needs, offer diagnoses, and collaborate with parents, teachers, and medical professionals to establish achievable goals. Through rehabilitation methods like voice exercises and coping mechanisms, SLPs assist patients while maintaining detailed records of their progress. Given the unique learning pace of each patient, SLPs provide ongoing support over months or even years.
Travel SLPs perform all the same tasks as their location-bound counterparts. However, they constantly move to different locations to fill staffing gaps nationwide. Working on a contract basis, typically for 13-week medical contracts or 9-month school contracts, these professionals act as free agents, transitioning from one contract to another based on demand. They adapt their workload to cater to the needs of existing and new patients wherever they go.
Essential Skills for Travel Speech-Language Pathologists
The success of a traveling speech-language pathologist hinges on a diverse skill set that varies depending on the situation at hand.
First and foremost, advanced clinical knowledge is imperative, which is typically acquired through a graduate degree. State licensure and completion of required clinical hours, as well as passing a national examination, are common prerequisites for SLPs. Moreover, many SLPs pursue the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Given the cross-state nature of their work, travel SLPs must hold state licensure in multiple jurisdictions to practice across state lines. The upcoming Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact, set to take effect in 2023, will simplify the process for SLPs seeking licensure in multiple states (provided those states participate in the compact).
In addition to clinical expertise, travel SLPs must also possess soft skills, including organization, effective communication, critical thinking, and adaptability. As these professionals frequently encounter new individuals while traveling, strong communication skills help establish rapport and ensure clear understanding between SLPs, their patients, and their support system. Moreover, critical thinking abilities empower travel SLPs to address novel challenges, tailor treatment plans to individual patients, and make appropriate referrals when necessary. The ability to adapt quickly to new environments and operations allows travel SLPs to provide the most effective treatment possible.
Rewards and Outlook for Traveling Speech-Language Pathologists
Traveling speech-language pathologists enjoy not only the freedom of exploring the world but also the benefits of a lucrative career with promising growth opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), SLPs earned a median annual salary of $80,480 in 2020, with variations based on experience, contract type, geographical location, and other factors.
Looking ahead, the future for speech-language pathology careers appears bright. The BLS projects a remarkable 29% growth in SLP jobs between 2020 and 2030, well above the national average for all occupations (8%). This surge is primarily driven by the increasing focus on meeting the needs of an aging baby boomer population and improved societal recognition of speech and language disorders.
An Education to Fuel Your Ambitions
Embarking on a career as a travel speech-language pathologist begins with a solid education. Consider pursuing an advanced degree, such as Maryville University’s online Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to make a difference in this field. Whether helping individuals with speech-language impediments resulting from aging, stroke, trauma, or other causes, you can find fulfillment while transforming the lives of your patients.
Maryville’s comprehensive curriculum encompasses courses designed specifically to align with the goals of travel SLPs. From Voice and Fluency Disorders to Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Motor Speech Disorders, you’ll receive a robust education tailored to your aspirations. Take a moment to explore the full curriculum and see how Maryville University can help you become a travel SLP.