You’re well on your way to earning that master’s degree, and have your eye on those Cs! But as you contemplate putting the note-taking and papers behind you, have you thought about which job setting and treatment population is right for you?
One benefit of becoming a professional in the communications sciences and disorders field is the number and variety of possible work settings. Choosing just one might seem overwhelming, however. To figure it out, determine what best fits your lifestyle and professional goals.
Ask yourself these questions before targeting your desired work setting:
Do you want do work with adults or children?
If you like working with children, look into public and private schools, early intervention, clinics or private practice. If working with adults appeals to you, explore jobs in skilled nursing facilities, rehab centers and acute hospital settings.
What are your lifestyle preferences?
Consider personal plans, Do you want to start a family in the near future? If so, a school setting might fit well, so you can maintain hours and vacations similar to your kids’ schedules. Or, if you aren’t tied down to anything or anyone, how about a travel position? This can open an entirely new set of job opportunities and possibilities.
Will your potential job provide the opportunity to work closely with other professionals?
Learning from other professionals—in your specific field and other related fields—enhances your professional knowledge and skill set. Over my (almost!) four years working as an SLP, I enjoyed varied opportunities, such as working with occupational therapists. Working side-by-side with OTs taught me a lot about children’s sensory and motor development, as well as strategies I can incorporate into my own sessions.
Does the work setting you’re considering offer further skill development?
Look for colleagues at your potential job setting—or at conferences—with specialized skills and training in areas that interest you. Maybe one of the SLPs at the preschool where you applied got training in PECS (picture exchange communication systems). Perhaps your future hospital co-worker studied LSVT (Lee Silverman’s voice treatment). And because developing your skills involves continuing education, find out if your employer offers a continuing education allowance or reimbursement.
I hope these questions get you thinking about what type of work setting will fit your professional and personal goals. Sometimes it takes a little bit of trial and error, but that’s okay! You worked hard to get where you are, and just a little more effort might reveal your ideal job. Good luck!
Lauren Cernaro, MS, CCC-SLP, works in a school setting in Virginia. She primarily treats students with autism as well as augmentative and alternative communication users. Cernaro is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 1, Language Learning and Education. firstname.lastname@example.org