Career outlook

What can I do with a degree in communication sciences and disorders (CSD)?

The undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders is considered pre-professional as students must obtain a graduate degree to be employed as a certified speech-language pathologist (M.A.) or audiologist (Au.D.) in any work setting. Specialized coursework prepares students to work with speech-language and hearing disabled children and adults in a variety of settings, including public schools, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers and private practice.

Transferable skills

A communication sciences and disorders degree offers skills in:

  • Critical thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems
  • Learning strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things
  • Ability to relate societal and cultural issues to others 
  • Customer and personal service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction

Some careers in communication sciences and disorders

Career Median salary Market growth
Audiologist $74,890  14% + 
Speech pathologist $73,410 14% + 
Speech therapy assistant (state-dependent) $35,780  9 – 13% 
Classroom assistants $24,900 5 – 8% 
Audiology assistant $49,600  14% + 

Source: O*NET Online, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration

Careers in audiology

Audiologists are health care professionals who study, diagnose and treat normal and impaired hearing, balance, and related ear problems. Audiologists treat people of all ages and work in many different types of clinical and educational settings, including schools, hospitals, community clinics, rehabilitation centers, health departments, physicians' offices, industries with hearing conservation programs and private practice.

Audiologists use audiometers, computers and many other testing devices to assess the nature and extent of individuals' hearing loss and to diagnose balance disorders. They may independently develop and carry out treatment programs or work with teams of health and education professionals to plan and deliver service to infants, children and adults. Sensory and neural problems related to hearing and balance can result from a variety of causes including genetic disorders, birth trauma, aging, exposure to loud sounds, certain viruses and some medications.

Careers in speech-language pathology (SLP)

Speech-language pathologists are health care professionals who study, diagnose and treat normal and impaired language, speech, voice and swallowing. SLPs treat people of all ages, from infants to the elderly and work in many clinical and educational settings such as schools, hospitals, clinics, health departments, adult daycare and centers for persons with developmental disabilities. SLPs use a variety of tests, instruments and other resources to assess, diagnose, treat and help prevent communication disorders.

Speech, language and swallowing impairments can be caused by congenital disorders such as cerebral palsy and cleft palate, by developmental delays or disorders including autism, learning disabilities and stuttering, and by problems acquired through brain injury, stroke, pathologies of the head and neck, hearing loss and learning a non-native language. Speech-language pathologists may teach clients how to produce sounds, develop or improve their oral or written communication skills, use alternative/augmentative communication devices, use compensatory strategies to swallow without inhaling or choking on food, and manage the apprehension and misunderstanding that can result from speech and language problems.

Graduate study

An undergraduate degree in CSD is a solid foundation for graduate work in other areas including education, special education, counseling, social work, health and human development, vocational rehabilitation, health policy and administration, etc. Further, if a student does not get accepted into a graduate school in CSD, they might wish to sit out a year, take more undergraduate courses to improve their GPA, re-take the GRE, and/or work in a CSD-related field for one-two years, then re-apply to graduate schools in CSD or a related profession.

This degree also provides a solid foundation for graduate study in:

  • Speech pathology
  • Audiology

Notable people with a communications sciences and disorders major

  • Marion Downs (Au.D.) – An audiologist and Professor Emerita at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, who pioneered universal newborn hearing screening in the early 1960s.
  • Nancy Helm-Estabrooks (SLP) – A WCU professor emerita leads the language therapy team for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
  • Lionel George Logue (SLP) – An Australian speech and language therapist and amateur stage actor who successfully treated, among others, King George VI, who had a pronounced stammer

More information on careers in communication sciences and disorders