This question is for all practicing speech-language pathologists (SLPs) out there: What did you learn in grad school? If you had to list out everything you were taught, it would most likely include anatomy, physiology, speech and language disorders, specific conditions, how to use certain assessment tools, some treatment methods, and documentation formulas.
In a nutshell, you learned how to be an SLP.
But did you ever learn how to earn as an SLP? (Or better yet…earn more?)
If you’re like me (and most SLPs), your grad school probably left that course off the curriculum. One of the quickest ways to spark greater earning potential as a clinician is to see private clients. So, let’s talk about it! In this post, we’ll explore the possibility of having a private practice as a speech-language pathologist.
Can SLPs have their own private practice?
The short answer is yes, speech-language pathologists can absolutely have their own private practice. In fact, many SLPs choose to do so because it offers the following:
Freedom: A private practice gives an SLP the autonomy to set their own schedule, choose their own clients, and create their own treatment plans. No more denied vacation requests. So long required weekends and holidays. Au revoir, skipped lunch hours!
Flexibility: Setting up a speech therapy private practice clinic means you’re not tied down to unreasonable productivity requirements, strict work hours, and forced dress codes.
Finances: Owning a private practice can provide a higher earning potential compared to working in a traditional setting. The cost of starting a private practice is surprisingly lower than most clinicians realize, and whatever initial costs an SLP does incur in the startup process can be replenished relatively quickly depending on the rates the SLP charges for various assessments and treatment programs.
Requirements and considerations for starting a private practice:
The benefits of owning a private practice are abundant! However, starting a private practice can also be challenging. SLPs who choose to go into private practice must be prepared to handle the business aspect of running a practice, including accounting, billing, documentation, and marketing. They also have to be responsible for all the expenses that come with running a business, such as HIPAA compliant documentation systems, office supplies, employee/contractor salaries, and if desired, office space.
To start a private practice, an SLP must have a master’s degree in speech-language pathology and a state license. They must also pass a national examination and maintain their license by completing continuing education units. SLPs must also be familiar with the laws and regulations that govern private practices in their state. No additional business degree or certification is required!
Before starting a private practice, it’s important for SLPs to research the market and determine if there is a demand for their services in the area. They should also consider the competition and the cost of starting and maintaining a private practice. Don’t let this scare you, though!
Between the growing aging population, the frustrating reality behind staffing shortages, and the wide variety of conditions SLPs assess and treat, it’s extremely likely that your services will be in demand. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s projected that the demand for speech-language pathologists will grow by approximately 21% between 2021 and 2023.¹
In conclusion, speech-language pathologists can have their own private practice, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and be prepared for the challenges that come with it. Owning a private practice can provide SLPs with autonomy and flexibility, but it also requires a great deal of responsibility and hard work. If you’re considering starting a private practice as a speech-language pathologist, it’s important to do your research and seek advice from others in the field.
Curious to see what other SLP private practice owners are doing or have done to get their business up and running? Check out my Facebook group for SLP and OT private practice beginners! As Helen Keller once said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
Remember, just because you didn’t learn it in grad school doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Satistics. (2021). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Speech-Language Pathologists. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm
Jena H. Castro-Casbon, MS, CCC-SLP, is a private-practice consultant who has helped thousands of speech-language pathologists start and grow their own private practices through her company, The Independent Clinician. She has written articles for The ASHA Leader and Presented at ASHA Connect (2017).
Jena lives in Boston, MA and is a wife and mama to two young boys.