May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, and in honor of the more than 160,000 professionals who practice Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, let’s take a look at the employment outlook for the profession.
An Audiologist specializes in testing for, monitoring and diagnosing hearing deficits and balance disorders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 13,000 certified Audiologists in the United States. A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) provides treatment and therapies to individuals with language problems, swallowing issues, and speech impediments. There are more than 134,000 SLP’s currently in practice.
The future for these two specialty fields is expected to grow significantly faster than the average for other occupations, with Audiology growing by 37% through the year 2020 and SLP’s growth at 23%. Let’s examine the reasons for this impressive occupational outlook.
Aging Population. One of the largest growth segment of the population is that of older Americans. As people age, hearing and balance impairments requiring testing are more prevalent. At the same time, the number of patients needing treatment from an SLP grows due to a variety of age-related conditions impacting speech and swallowing.
Survival Rates. As medical advancements improve the survival rate of premature infants, trauma and stroke victims, and other debilitating conditions, the reliance on testing, diagnosing and treating hearing and speech deficits increases accordingly.
School Enrollments. Opportunities in educational settings will continue to increase as elementary, secondary, and special education enrollments increase. Supporting this are federal regulations requiring that special education students receive services for speech and hearing conditions.
Private Practice. Speech and hearing professionals in private practice are expected to rise as changes in the healthcare system are creating an increase in contracted services through hospitals, schools, and nursing care facilities.
Another major factor in the continued growth of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology is the emphasis placed on early detection and diagnosis in infants. In fact, “Early Intervention Counts” is the theme of Better Hearing & Speech Month in 2015. Awareness, coupled with legislation in most states requiring that all newborns be screened for hearing impairments will remain a factor in sustaining the bright outlook for careers in these two medical fields.
If you are an Audiologist and want to find a collection of valuable Audiology Resources, visit worldaudiology.com. For links to useful resources for the SLP professional, check out 100 Best Websites for SLP’s.
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