How Should You Be Asking for Better Compensation as an SLP?
Being a speech-language pathologist provides a range of benefits, from improved outcomes for patient care to ongoing career development. However, it also comes with its own challenges; occupational demands in this people-oriented profession can sometimes threaten workers’ well-being.
Because of critical staff shortages, school-based speech-language pathologists in states like Arkansas have struggled with high caseloads and relatively low salaries compared to the private sector. But regardless of which industry you choose to work in as an SLP, it’s important that your pay is commensurate with what your role demands and expects from you.
When you have decided that you are not being paid more for your work, you have the choice to seek a higher-paying job, in which case a previous article about ‘Following Up on an SLP Position‘ can help you reach out to employers with professionalism. You can also go down the path of asking for better compensation. This requires as much care and consideration as looking for a new job, so here are a few ideas on approaching this critical step in your career as an SLP.
Finding the right timing
Most employees need higher compensation to better support themselves during tough economic times; for example, when there’s high inflation and a cost of living crisis. However, asking for better compensation is also about what you deserve based on the value that you bring to the table.
It’s natural and convenient to talk about your pay when there’s a performance review coming up or at the end of the fiscal year when employers are recalibrating their plans for the next year. It’s also good to consider the financial health of your company or organization to decide whether or not it is an appropriate time to proceed with your request.
Doing research on salary trends
Before formally requesting a raise, it’s crucial to figure out whether your salary remains competitive with your industry peers. Based on the national wage estimates by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, SLPs can earn anywhere from $51,310 to $125,560 annually. This website also provides a detailed profile based on industry/specialization and geographic location so you can get a more accurate comparison depending on where you live and work. You can even explore job posting boards like Indeed and Glassdoor for salary reports from current and former SLPs. Lastly, factor in your list of qualifications and accomplishments when identifying your target salary range or percentage of increase.
Writing a formal raise letter
Setting a one-on-one meeting with your manager to discuss your pay can be beneficial for gauging their reaction and steering the conversation accordingly. However, a formal letter allows you to better organize your thoughts and give your employer ample time to consider your request.
Among the many tips for writing a raise letter published by LHH, the article suggests discussing concrete examples when it comes to your accomplishments, such as a time when you went above and beyond your job responsibilities or received exceptional feedback from your clients. After specifying your proposed pay range and/or raise percentage, make sure to end the letter with a positive tone of gratitude and appreciation for how your workplace contributed to your personal and professional growth.
Knowing how to move forward
There are times when your request will be denied because of budgetary or performance issues. Advice by the HBR on handling rejection after a raise request highlights sending a professional and diplomatic response, as well as continuing the negotiation with the other components of your compensation package, e.g. increased vacation time, flexible hours, and bonuses. It may also be an opportunity to discern whether this is a sign to move on and explore other settings to further your growth as an SLP.