Travel speech-language pathologist career guide
What is a travel speech language pathologist?
A travel speech-language pathologist, or travel SLP, is an allied health clinician who specializes in helping patients of all ages with cognitive and/or social communication disorders, in addition to swallowing disorders. Some travel SLPs work with children who have a speech delay, while others may help adults with swallowing difficulties from a stroke.
The job outlook is bright for travel speech-language pathologists. According to the , the speech-language pathologist occupation is expected to grow by 19% by 2032, which is significantly higher than the average job growth rate. This increasing demand for skilled speech-language pathologists will likely create more opportunities for SLP travelers to step in and fill staffing shortages nationwide. At Nomad, we’re dedicated to providing the best resources for travel speech-language pathologists as they strive to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Travel speech-language pathologist job responsibilities
The travel speech-language pathologist has similar responsibilities to their staff counterparts in terms of day-to-day responsibilities, but there are some differences. Due to the shorter nature of travel assignments, travel SLPs are expected to become acclimated quickly to new workflows, charting systems, and work environments when starting their jobs.
According to the BLS, a travel speech-language pathologist may have the following responsibilities:
- Evaluate levels of speech, language, or swallowing difficulty
- Identify clients' goals for treatment
- Create and carry out an individualized treatment plan that addresses specific functional needs
- Teach clients how to make sounds, improve their voices, and maintain fluency
- Help clients improve vocabulary and sentence structure
- Work with clients to develop and strengthen the muscles used to swallow
- Counsel clients and their families on how to cope with communication and swallowing disorders
Types of speech-language pathologist travel jobs
Travel speech-language pathologists may work in a wide variety of clinical settings and specialties. Most often found working in schools and offices, while others work within the hospital setting. Within the acute hospital setting, travel SLPs are staffed throughout various adult and pediatric floors.
Travel speech-language pathologist
A may work on a wide variety of adult hospital units, from med-surg to step-down. According to the , the top medical diagnoses treated by acute care SLPs are stroke, respiratory disease, head injury, hemorrhage/injury, and central nervous system disease. Travel SLPs may assess and provide interventions regarding swallowing, spoken language comprehension, spoken language expression, motor speech, and memory.
NICU travel speech-language pathologist
NICU travel SLPs may use multiple modalities to assess the patient such as videofluoroscopic instrumental swallow studies, endoscopic assessments of swallowing function, pulmonary testing, pH probe, and scintigraphy. It’s important for NICU travel speech-language pathologists to know how to give culturally appropriate, family-centered care as they will be helping both infants and their parents.
Pediatric travel speech-language pathologist
in the acute hospital setting may perform assessments and treatment of patients from birth to 18 years old. According to ASHA, some of the most commonly seen conditions in pediatric patients are dysphagia, apraxia, other articulation or phonology disorders, autism, language disorders, central auditory processing disorders, and stuttering.
For children referred for communication or swallowing problems, peds travel SLPs may often encounter some of the following conditions: cleft lip/palate, craniofacial anomalies, velopharyngeal insufficiency, dental malocclusion, macroglossia, oral-motor dysfunction, and neurologic disease/dysfunction. For a full list of these, refer to .
Similar to adult and neonatal travel SLPs, pediatric travel SLPs will also use various methods to assess the patient, create a care plan, and educate them through exercises on how to improve or mitigate their swallowing or speech problems.
Travel speech-language pathologist pay
The of travel speech-language pathologists depends on many different factors including location, experience, facility demand, education, and certifications. Travel speech-language pathologists at Nomad Health earn approximately $2,069 of total average weekly compensation, including a travel stipend.*
Aside from pay, Nomad provides extra support to its travel speech-language pathologists by offering benefits such as reimbursements for scrubs, certifications, and licenses, along with up to $1,000 reimbursement for one-way travel to their assignment. Nomad also offers and , in addition to the option to contribute to a , with matching after a set time.
*Based on Nomad compensation data for travel speech-language pathologists as of October 24, 2023.
Highest-paying travel speech-language pathologist jobs
Some travel speech-language pathologist jobs pay more than others. This may be dependent on factors such as seasonality, location, specialty, and demand. With Nomad, the highest-paying speech-language pathologist jobs offer a total average weekly compensation of $3,520 including a travel stipend. The highest-paying assignments currently offer approximately $88 an hour.*
*Based on Nomad compensation data for travel speech-language pathologists as of October 24, 2023.
Pros and cons of being a travel speech-language pathologist
There are many benefits to traveling as a speech-language pathologist, but it’s important to consider the whole picture when considering this career path.
Some of the pros of being a travel speech-language pathologist include having the opportunity to achieve better pay faster by choosing high-paying assignments, being exposed to new hospital systems, growing your clinical skills, and exploring new cities while providing vital care to patients around the country.
The cons of being a travel speech-language pathologist include stress from moving often, frequently finding new housing, adapting to unfamiliar environments, having less consistent relationships with your coworkers, and potentially seeing less of your friends and family back home.
How to become a travel speech-language pathologist
The journey to becoming a travel speech-language pathologist can take anywhere from three to six years after high school graduation. Ultimately, everyone’s timeline may differ based on how long it takes to graduate from an accredited speech-language pathologist program, pass the certification exam, and obtain enough experience.
Step 1: graduate from an accredited speech-language pathology program
Speech-language pathologists will have to obtain at least a master’s degree from a accredited speech-language pathology program. Schooling may take anywhere from two to four years, depending on if you attend full-time or part-time.
Step 2: get certified with the CCC-SLP
Upon graduation, you can sit for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) offered by the . This certification is not mandatory, but it may cover several licensure requirements. Some employers may even require it. You can see the full requirements for this certification on the .
Step 3: apply for licensure
Whether or not you obtain the CCP-SLP, you must apply for licensure in the state where you intend to work. Requirements may vary from state to state, so it’s important to check your state's speech-language pathologist licensure requirements.
Step 4: obtain experience
Many facilities may require travel speech-language pathologists to have at least one year of experience to qualify for a travel position, although some may accept new grads with certain fellowship experience. It’s recommended to find a staff SLP job in your desired specialty, obtain any certifications needed, and work full-time for at least twelve months to get hands-on experience.
Travel speech-language pathologist skills
As a travel speech-language pathologist, there are certain skills that will help you excel in your career. Take a look at the hard and soft skills that may help you be as successful as you can.
Some hard skills you may need to be a travel speech-language pathologist include but are not limited to:
- Knowledge of anatomy and physiology
- Understanding of fluency, voice and resonance, and receptive and expressive language
- Understanding of hearing, including the impact on speech and language, and the cognitive and social aspects of communication
- How to assess swallowing, and the mechanics of swallowing
- Cultural and linguistic competence
- Collaboration with other interdisciplinary professionals
- Using tools such as videofluoroscopic instrumental swallow studies, endoscopic assessments of swallowing function, pulmonary testing, pH probe, and scintigraphy
According to the ASHA, some important soft skills for travel speech-language pathologists are:
- Strong ethics
- Good communication skills
- Capable technologically
- Analytic ability
- Positive attitude
Travel speech-language pathologist certifications
Aside from the CCC-SLP, travel speech-language pathologists can obtain specialty certifications from different organizations. These certifications can help advance your specialty knowledge and show a commitment to clinical excellence and safety. Here are some organizations that provide specialty certification in child language, fluency, and swallowing for travel SLPs:
Other travel SLP certifications
Aside from specialty certifications, travel speech-language pathologists may be required to obtain a combination of the following certifications based on each travel job’s unique requirements.
- Basic life support (BLS)
- Pediatric advanced life support (PALS)
Frequently asked questions about travel speech-language pathologists
- Yes—being a travel SLP is a great career choice for speech-language pathologists who want to explore different cities while building their skills, potentially earning higher pay, and providing valuable care to patients across the country.
- A travel speech-language pathologist is an allied health professional who works on short-term contracts in different locations across the country. They perform all the same tasks as staff SLPs but they typically work assignments that last 8-13 weeks at a time.
- The highest-paying travel speech-language pathologist jobs at Nomad offer a total average weekly compensation of $3,520 including a travel stipend. The highest-paying assignments currently offer approximately $88 an hour. According to BLS, the average staff SLP in 2022 made $40.45 an hour. This is based on Nomad compensation data for travel speech-language pathologists as of October 24, 2023.
Healthcare resources for travel speech-language pathologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Speech-Language Pathologists. Retrieved from
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (n.d.). Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists Serving Persons With Communication Disorders Secondary to Other Conditions. Retrieved from
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (n.d.). Start Your Career in Acute Care Settings. Retrieved from
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (n.d.). Clinical Specialty Certification. Retrieved from
- Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. (n.d.). Child Language Specialist. Retrieved from
- Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders. (n.d.). Board Recognized Fluency Specialist. Retrieved from
- Swallowing Disorders Foundation. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from