Bilingual Speech Pathologist Considers a New Niche: Angela’s Success Story 

This guest post is from Angela C. Pierce of Waltham, MA

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First I tried adding EI hours…

After I graduated, I found a great organization to do my CF year. Like many CFs, I stayed with the place to continue my employment. To supplement my income, I tried to add hours in EI and found the income too unpredictable as clients cancelled last minute or just didn’t bother to be home for the appointment.

Then I Tried Per Diem at a Private Practice…

I decided to look into doing some per diem hours at a private practice. 

Two days a week, I worked in a dynamic, multi-disciplinary environment, treating pediatric clients with OTs, side by side. As the practice’s needs increased, I was unable to be available for the amount of hours they needed so we amicably said our goodbyes. The owners of the practice were generous enough to allow one of clients with whom I’ve had the longest lasting relationship with, leave with me if they so decided to leave their practice.

At the time, I felt strange soliciting myself privately to clients and didn’t know quite what to do. I was excited by the prospect of having a private client but with those feelings of excitement came a wave of anxiety…how do I do this? What do I charge? Do I charge for travel? Am I really good enough?! 

Sure enough, on the second to last session with my client, I mentioned to the parent that I would be leaving the practice. Without hesitation at all, the parent asked if I would be willing to travel to their home to continue treating the child. I did my best to keep my most interested yet professional face on. I told her I would let her know the following week my availability and rate and come up with a contract for us. Within a week, I decided to make my rate $90. I wanted it to be $100 as I knew that the parent had been paying even more than this out of pocket at the private practice (and this family was from a wealthy suburb) but I felt this amount was fair (since it was my first and I still wasn’t that confident in myself). 

I stayed with this family for a year and a half. We parted ways after we decided the home setting was no longer the best place for treatment. After this, I have had a few clients here and there find me from the ASHA registry. 

Will Bilingual SLP Evals Be My Niche?

My more recent “first” client was a request for a bilingual Mandarin evaluation. I was contacted by a parent and their public school system. It is still unclear to me how they found me. The parent says her pediatrician recommended me, but I don’t know the practice nor the pediatrician. I was nervous yet so extremely excited for this opportunity. 

I had to get an idea what the ballpark figure was for speech and language evaluations. I remembered when I was at the private practice that they charged at least $500-$800 for comprehensive evaluations that included reading and writing skills. In a hospital, this number could be as high as $1300!! In my particular case, I had never performed a bilingual evaluation, there would be no standardized instrument for me to use so I felt my evaluation was somehow less valuable than one based on standardized scores. On top of that, I only speak Mandarin conversationally. I have never really studied the language. And yet on the other hand, these people were all begging me to do this evaluation because they were unable to find anyone else. I proposed $450 and they accepted without hesitation. And so I did the evaluation and as far as I know, all parties have been extremely satisfied with my services.

A funny thing happened a week later. I received my second request for a bilingual Mandarin evaluation. No kidding!! Another school system was looking for a child who recently moved from China and they found me on the ASHA registry. 

Here’s the interesting thing about this story. They contacted me and gave me their rate: $60 an hour, not exceeding 6 hours. Well, I had charged $450 for my last eval and I easily spent over 6 hours for interviewing, observation, testing, and writeup. There was no way I was going to do this for $360. I sat on the e-mail for 4 days before gathering enough courage to call them back and begin my negotiation for price. I told them I usually did not charge an hourly rate, that I typically needed 90-120 minutes for the evaluation and 90-120 minutes for the writeup. They asked me my flat rate and I told them $500. You won’t believe what the SPED director told me. “That sounds just fine. You could be charging more for your service. We have been looking for someone with your skills for a long time. Perhaps next year you can increase your rate.”

Ha! I think I will 🙂

Angela C. Pierce, MS CCC/SLP is a highly skilled speech and language pathologist in the MetroWest Boston area who has 11 years of experience with pediatrics in both educational and clinical settings. She has over 3 years of experience with adult outpatient rehabilitation. She has a broad range of expertise, and is especially skilled in early language development, language learning disabilities, social communication, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and augmentative communication.

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