With the shortage of speech language pathologists, are there programs available for perspective or current school employees that help pay for the cost of a master’s degree in speech pathology?
You’re right about speech language pathology being a high-demand field. With growing numbers of SLPs retiring, the demand is expected to increase over the next several years. The answer to your question, however, depends greatly on where you intend to work.
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I’m going to start with the last part of your question first.
The amount of financial assistance for your master’s degree that you might be able to receive while working depends on the policies of the school district that hires you. Policies vary from district to district. It’s very likely that you would be able to find employment as an SLP assistant or an SLP paraprofessional. Schools differ in their educational reimbursement programs for employees of this sort. Some actually offer waivers that would enable you to take a course or two each semester at a reduced fee, or even without charge. This is something that you could ask about in an interview for a position. It could help you to make your choice about where you’d want to work.
Some school districts will permit a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in SLP to work as a paid intern while he or she completes a master’s degree program. Even though this isn’t officially “helping to pay for the costs” of the master’s degree, it would give you a good salary that would make it easier for you to pay for the degree yourself. These salaries can be as high as what a beginning bachelor’s level teacher would make.
I’d advise that you check with the ASHA website to learn about each state’s requirements for SLP assistants or paraprofessionals before you decide where you want to work. States do fluctuate in their requirements. You can try going right to the state-by-state directory.
Now, for the first part of your question: Programs that actually “place” people in positions are limited. You might want to talk with your college or university to see what sorts of career assistance it offers. Most often, it will be advisement on and access to actual job openings. You would then conduct your own job search, applying for positions that interest you and that are in the geographic area you desire.
Take comfort in the fact that once you complete that master’s level SLP program and become certified and licensed, you’ll never have a problem finding an excellent job!
This answer, provided by Dr. Dawn Scheffner Jones, online education and health advisor for career services at Northern Illinois University, is intended for informational purposes only. Opinions are solely those of the participants.