If you’re looking for a career where you can make an impact and earn a comfortable living in Massachusetts, consider training as a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Speech pathologists play a significant role in helping others overcome language disorders and improve communication skills.

Because the field is so broad and SLPs work with people of all ages in a variety of settings, speech-language pathologists have many opportunities to further their careers and gain more income. Here, you’ll learn more about the typical SLP salary in Massachusetts and how it compares to the cost of living in this state.

What is speech-language pathology?

Speech-language pathology is the study and treatment of conditions that prevent people from communicating clearly, producing sounds fluently, or controlling oral muscles correctly. Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, work with both children and adults to help treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders. Common conditions that SLPs treat include:

  • Speech disorders: Caused by developmental impairments or brain injuries, speech disorders occur when someone struggles to form words and sounds.
  • Voice disorders: Voice issues involve irregularity in the tone, volume, or pitch of the voice due to impaired vocal cords.
  • Language disorders: Language impairments involve difficulty expressing or understanding language.
  • Swallowing disorders: When oral motor muscles malfunction, swallowing disorders can cause coughing, choking, and difficulty drinking or eating.

SLPs diagnose these disorders and use a range of therapeutic treatments to help clients develop or rebuild language skills.

Career Outlook

If you’re thinking about earning a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, you can rest assured that the demand for SLPs is likely to remain high over the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2020 and 2030, the number of SLP jobs is expected to grow by 29 percent. Massachusetts has over 2,000 job postings for SLPs and nearly 4,000 total positions. BLS projects an average demand of 15,200 job openings per year across the US.

SLP Average Salary in Massachusetts

Speech therapists in Massachusetts have higher earning potential than most SLPs in the country. The average speech-language pathologist salary in Massachusetts is $86,050, which is roughly 6.5 percent greater than the national median wage of $80,475. Massachusetts SLPs can make $50,000 to $120,000 annually, depending on their field and the level of experience they have.

Salary Considerations

When choosing a career, the average salary is only one component you should consider. The potential for long-term income growth, career development, and economic stability is equally important. With this in mind, what you can earn as a speech therapist depends on a range of factors.

Here are five essential components to your prospective salary:

1. Experience and Education

Pay varies based on your level of education and the years of experience you have as an SLP. While all SLPs are required to earn a master’s degree and Certificate of Clinical Competence, it’s possible to pursue further education or certifications that allow you to work in more niche environments or expand your services.

One option is to obtain multiple postgraduate degrees throughout your career. For example, getting a doctorate means you can work as a professor or conduct advanced research and writing to improve the field. Studying audiology alongside speech-pathology also gives you the opportunity to treat hearing disorders, which are often related. For people who work in hospitals, private practices, or residential care facilities, this is especially useful because one specialist can manage speech, hearing, and neural issues stemming from the same medical condition.

2. Region

Your pay rate may also vary based on what region of Massachusetts you live in. For instance, the average salary in the greater Boston area is around $96,000, while annual salaries for SLPs in central and western Massachusetts range from $87,000 to $90,000, according to Salary.com.

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3. Living Expenses

Regionally, higher wages typically go hand in hand with higher living costs. At around 27 percent, the average cost of living in Massachusetts is significantly higher than the US as a whole. However, you can choose to live in regions where living costs are slightly lower to find the right balance between expenses and income.

While living expenses in Boston are 51 percent higher than the national average, the average cost of living in areas such as Pittsfield, Springfield, and Fall River is only 7.8 percent, 11 percent, and 9.9 percent above the national average, respectively, according to Salary.com. These locations still offer competitive pay and growth potential for SLPs, with an average hourly rate that is much higher than the rest of the country.

4. Skill Set

While your skill set may not directly impact your salary, it can improve your marketability and help you stand out from the crowd. If you have the skills employers are looking for and the experience to back them up, you may be able to negotiate a higher salary for yourself. Some of the most in-demand skills include:

  • Communications
  • Scheduling
  • Teaching
  • Planning
  • Management
  • Written communication

5. Certifications

Speech-language pathologists in MA are all required to pass PRAXIS exams in reading and literacy to demonstrate a strong grasp of written and oral communication. However, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) offers many continuing education courses to help SLPs develop more skills.

If you plan to work in educational institutions, getting additional teaching-related certifications is a smart way to boost your credentials and graduate to management roles in SLP. Taking specialty courses on topics such as social literacy, dual-language learners, autism spectrum disorder, cultural responsiveness, or traumatic brain injuries in children may lead to better treatment and advocacy.

A Worthwhile Career

By now, you have seen that an SLP salary in Massachusetts is both competitive and poised to grow.

However, pursuing a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology is still a big commitment and one you should consider carefully before moving forward with education plans. As mentioned previously, salary is only one factor in this decision, and it’s just as important to think about how an SLP career fits into your long-term personal and professional goals.