The field of speech language pathology has grown leaps and bounds in recent years and new data suggests this trend is expected to continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average 18 percent job growth over the next decade and there is plenty of reason to meet the demand. Aside from great pay and a flexible schedule, speech therapists are able to positively impact lives on a daily basis.

That said, many speech therapists are not taking full advantage of their income potential. There is an untapped opportunity to increase earning potential via continuing education credits. Continuing education is a commonplace requirement for most medical professions. In fact, speech pathologists are required to complete a set amount of credits each year to maintain certification. However, going above and beyond the requirements could impact your ability to make more money. Here are three simple steps for making it happen:

Step 1: Find Opportunities

Your first and most obvious step is finding opportunities to learn. It takes a keen eye to go above and beyond the requirements. You have to know where to look! Here are a few pages to turn when looking for professional development opportunities in speech therapy:

  1. Online courses should be your first mode of action. Online courses are flexible and cost effective allowing you to learn at your own pace. You’ll also get to pick the courses that most interest you or apply to your current role.
  2. Conferences are another great place to earn continuing education credit. The American Speech Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) sponsors many conferences throughout the year offering opportunities to learn and network with other speech path professionals. These workshops will offer the industry’s latest research and you’ll be on the up and up when it comes to your profession.

Step 2: Document

It’s simply not enough to attend the sessions. You’ll need to report your attendance to ASHA and then keep documented notes for your records. It helps to then document how you applied what was learned in these sessions. Did you apply a tip to increase productivity? Did you try a new game with one of your clients? Demonstrating how your continuing education is applied in real life scenarios can up the ante when it’s time to negotiate.

Step 3: Negotiate and Close

With a pocketful of continuing education credits you’ll be a popular target for recruiters. Your efforts will not only show recruiters your initiative and willingness to learn, but it will also give you a wealth of interview content. You’ll feel well prepared for the next step and will be able to negotiate a higher pay scale.