The Guide to Speech Pathology Job and Salary Negotiations

Navigating a speech language pathology job search can be difficult—especially if it’s your first time negotiating salaries and coming up with counter offers. This guide will walk you through common stages of a salary negotiation process to help you feel more prepared and confident as you embark on your journey toward becoming an SLP.

Congratulations on Your New Speech Language Pathology Job

So you’ve graduated with your master’s in speech pathology, fulfilled all clinical experience requirements, and now you have obtained a job offer! You should be excited but be sure to look over the details before accepting. As you review your offer, look closely at the specific contract terms and agreements. It’s possible that there’s room for salary negotiation—you just have to approach the conversation strategically. 

4 Tips to Navigate a Speech Pathology Job Offer

Navigating your job offer and negotiating your salary requires a comprehensive understanding of the components that make up your offer—and a system for ensuring they meet your standards. Navigating your job offer and negotiating your salary requires a comprehensive understanding of the components that make up your offer—and a system for ensuring they meet your standards. Before you dive into a speech pathology career with this employer, let’s navigate your job offer. Below, we’ll break down components of your job offer, why they’re important, and what to keep in mind as you assess each one. 

  1. Check off the basics. To cover all of your bases, start by ensuring that your job offer includes the essentials—starting salary, paid time off, health benefits, vacation time, and retirement plan options. Depending on the employer’s policy, a basic offer may also include a performance bonus and tuition support. If a key component seems to be missing, it’s wise to address it right away. This way, you don’t put time and energy into negotiating a role that may not meet your most fundamental needs. 
  2. Break down the benefits. As you comb through your benefits package, look for what is offered beyond the basics: are there strong opportunities for professional development? For example, your benefits could include a stipend to improve your language skills—and become a bilingual SLP. Bilingual Speech Pathologists, referred to by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) as Bilingual Service Providers (BSPs), are SLPs who have the knowledge and skills necessary to address the unique needs of bilingual speakers. In our diverse world, SLPs with these skill sets can be particularly valuable to employers—driving incentive to support the associated education. Additional benefits may include stipends for other forms of continuing education, and/or stipends support professional certification.
  3. Look to the future. Speaking of certification,the Certificate of Clinical Competence for Speech-Language Pathologists, or the CCC-SLP, is a certification given to SLPs who meet a high level of professional standards (in some cases, higher than what is required for state licensure). Attesting to your ability to provide high-quality SLP services, maintaining the certification requires meeting certain professional development requirements as well as continuing education requirements—and submitting a yearly compliance form that verifies at least 30 hours of professional development and an adherence to the ASHA Code of Ethics. Due to the ongoing demands and requirements of speech pathology certification, many SLP job applicants seek out associated stipends and support as part of their original job offer and agreement.
  4. Determine your priorities. In navigating all of the different components of your speech pathology job offer, something you can do is determine what matters the most to you—and where you may be willing to settle. When it comes down to it, negotiating is all about balance. As you enter the conversation, be sure you have a clear sense of what matters most to you—and to what extent you’d be willing to compromise. 

4 Tips for Negotiating Your Speech Pathologist Salary

When it is time to negotiate your speech pathology salary, it is important to be strategic—and know what you want. Here are a few tips to keep top-of-mind throughout the salary negotiation process. 

  1. Ask for more than you’re aiming for. It’s wise to ask for a bit higher than what you’re aiming for. That way, even if you have to lower it a bit, you still have a chance of reaching your personal goals. 
  2. Don’t give a range. Along the same lines, counter-offering a range gives your potential employer the ability to stick to the low-end while still technically accepting your proposal. 
  3. Focus on your value. Stay calm, cool, collected—and focused. Remaining focused on your value can help you from getting distracted or deterred by the conversation, and avoid agreeing to a number below what you’re comfortable with. 
  4. Justify your ask. You need to be able to justify your worth—and explain why you deserve a higher salary. Get together some proof points for why your counter-offer is warranted, and support your stance as best as possible. The stronger your justification is, the harder it will be for them to say no.

Questions to Ask Before Accepting Your SLP Job Offer

Before you accept your SLP job offer, there are a handful of questions to ask your potential employer, and perhaps even your potential colleagues. Ultimately, the questions you ask should come down to what matters most to you and your career goals. Here are a few sample questions to get you started:

  • How many hours a week can I expect to work? 
  • What opportunities will I have for career advancement?
  • What is the average number of patients I’ll have at any given time?

What Should You Do if Your Counter Offer is Rejected?

There’s always a chance your counter offer could be rejected, but it’s certainly a risk worth taking. If your offer does get rejected, the best thing to do is keep your options open—and think of other ways you can benefit. Employers may consider negotiating other aspects of the offer, like PTO. And remember: your salary will likely increase as you gain experience and seniority at a particular workplace. Ultimately, it’s your decision to take a particular job, or keep looking for the next great opportunity.

Information last updated July 2020