The single most important factor influencing an individual's pay is the kind of work they perform—and the work that audiology and speech-language pathology professionals perform requires a high level of education, knowledge, and skill.
While you can control which specialized certifications, experience, and additional qualifications you have, understanding the factors that affect the market and organization salary decisions can also help you negotiate better wages.
A job is only worth what the marketplace will bear. The level of demand for people with certain skills may vary, depending on location and/or other factors. Sometimes, demand is more consistent and national in scope. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,200 additional audiology and 41,900 additional speech-language pathology jobs are needed to fill the demand through 2028:
Levels of employment or unemployment do not affect all regions equally. Certain areas, where the cost of living is high, have historically paid higher wages. For example, the 2018 ASHA Schools Survey found that SLPs in the Pacific states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington) had the highest median annual salaries, and those in the East South Central states (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee) had the lowest. It is important to consider the impact of your area's cost of living when determining if a salary is fair. A few resources that can help:
Salary decisions are made differently in each setting. Contributing factors can range from the type of treatment provided to the overall salary scale for the entire organization to contract restrictions. For example, compensation in school settings can be heavily influenced by contracts negotiated by teachers unions. Refer to ASHA's salary data for more information.
Some employers are committed to a philosophy of paying their employees above industry or area standards in order to attract and retain the very best workers. Others pay at the 50th percentile or less.
Large organizations—which typically increase in size because their services and products are in demand—can often pay a higher wage than smaller organizations. With increased size comes an economy of scale and the opportunity to increase profits with each additional product or unit of service provided.
Employees working for a highly profitable business have a greater chance of receiving higher wages than those working for a less profitable enterprise.
Traditionally, an employee's pay increases with years of service, as their performance becomes regarded as more dependable and effective. However, as the global economy increasingly demands ongoing business change and higher levels of productivity, employers have looked at how pay-and-reward systems can improve an organization's performance.
For many employers, the goal now is to integrate the organization's compensation and reward philosophy with its strategic initiatives regarding customers, profitability, and the development of a strong, competitive work force focused on the success of the organization. It is not unusual to see a range of a +/-10% salary differential for individuals in the same job, depending on performance.
There are times that discrimination may be a variable. A common example is on the basis of gender. There is a basis in law and in court decisions for rectifying pay inequities when they are due to intentional gender discrimination. However, it is often difficult to determine if wage discrimination is intentional.
If you believe you have been discriminated against by an employer, labor union, or employment agency because of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, you may file a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). Complaints may be filed in person, by mail, or by telephone by contacting the nearest EEOC office. Be aware that charges must be filed within strict time frames.