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When the Travel Bug Bites: Speech-Language Pathology Travel Opportunities

03 March 2014

We've all been there... you daydream while staring into the snowy abyss that is outside of your window, wondering of the places to which you'd like to escape. Whether it'd be for a short term or perhaps longer than a year, you just want to explore other cultures and places. But what about your job? For the shorter opportunities that may not be an issue, but if you want to stay longer you'll have living expenses, let alone money for activities. Luckily this is a fairly flexible career path that can let you go after some of these dreams. Here are some Speech-Language Pathology travel opportunities to take you abroad and within the US to get rid of your cabin fever:


Shorter Opportunities
If you'd like, you can participate in short trips that some organizations put together. Most of these last from several weeks to a few months, which is perfect for any time constraints you may have. It is important to note that most of these are volunteer positions, and may even require travel expenses.

Operation Smile- Operation Smile has trips to other countries that need SLPs, generally those with experience with Cleft-Lip and Palate. Click here for more information!
Special Olympics- If you want to get more involved with people who have handicaps and want to see them achieve great things, try getting involved with the Special Olympics. Click here for more information!
Doctors Without Borders- This is a great company that sends medical and therapeutic specialists on trips to assist those who may not get adequate healthcare. Click here!
English Summer Camps- Some cities around the US have these, but for those that want to travel abroad, this can work as well. Certain countries require a TEFL or CELTA certification, while others do not.
Other Summer Camps- There are camps throughout the country that relate to disciplines within our field. There are ones for children with Autism, those who stutter, as well as other disorders. So, if you'd like more experience with these populations while getting out of your town you should try this option!
Portland University- This university has a summer trip to Quito, Ecuador specifically for Speech-Language Pathologists and those with at least a B.A. You'll get to take Spanish classes and visit places that serve communication disorders like hospitals, schools and non-profit organizations. The only caveat is that you have basic Spanish skills before entering.
United Planet- This organization has some speech therapy related missions that you can participate in.
Speech Pathology Group: Children's Services International- There are opportunities to volunteer locally or abroad for varying amounts of time, depending on what they need.
Travel SLP- For those who have less obligations that require them to stay in one place, this could be an option. There are many staffing agencies and companies that have short-term travel positions for SLPs. Most pay for travel expenses and housing, and once the position is done, you are able to pick up a new one somewhere else. You can be sent anywhere within the US.

Longer Opportunities
For those who can 'afford' to take more time or wish to live abroad for a possibly undetermined amount of time, there are still some opportunities for you. These can last several months to years, depending on the local economy and need.

Military-  Even if you didn't go through military training, they have positions for civilians to work throughout the USA and abroad at military bases. These often are pediatric-related positions, but there may be opportunities to work with military personnel who have acquired injuries as well. The best option is to look into the Department of Defense or usajobs.gov I believe there is a way to be on a mailing list so that when openings come up they can e-mail you, asking if you'd like to take a position at X city or country.
Bilingual Schools- If there's a certain country you've always wanted to go to so you can practice the language and see the culture, try looking into bilingual schools that have English-speaking children. (Or if you're a bilingual SLP then you can work with both populations.)
International Schools- These can be a great option, as expats and some natives will send children to international schools to learn English and the local language as they go through their education. They may be in need of an English-speaking SLP for expat families. One place that may help is the International Schools Services.
Sterling Overseas- This is a company that can place SLPs overseas in educational facilities. Click here!
Mutual Agreement- ASHA has agreements with other professional organizations in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand that can assist you in moving to these countries and not worry about getting re-certified. This isn't a placement service, you'll still have to find your own job, but it states that your certification is recognized in these countries and will help you in that process.
Teach English- While working at a foreign military base or international school you may want to pick up extra cash. Or perhaps you want a break from SLP and focus on teaching English. Many countries are in need of native English speakers (and often don't mind if you don't know their language, as they want it to be English immersion for the students). As stated above, some require a certification, while others don't. You'll also want to look into expenses vs. salary; many Asian countries you'll save money while in Europe you'll break even, etc.
Accent Reduction/Private Practice/Tutor- There are chances to still work as an SLP abroad through accent reduction. Many foreigners not only want to learn English, but lose their accent so that they are understandable as well. If you'd rather not do that, then you could look into forming your own practice there, but be sure to figure out all the laws and regulations with that (as well as be sure that you can handle it.) Make sure it's near the population you want (bilingual, accent reduction, expats...). You can also choose to tutor English on the side.
Teletherapy- Of course, there is the growing trend of telerehabilitation. This just requires a computer with good connection. You can determine your hours, although for the pediatric population this will most likely be after school hours. Other than that, if you can find adequate work or do extra stuff on the side, then you can live almost anywhere!

These are just some of the opportunities that I have found. Be sure that if you look into a company that goes overseas or offers placement services to make sure that there aren't any hidden issues. Look into the Better Business Bureau or on online forums to see if there are any complaints against them.
ASHA has more non-profit organizations that you can look into at this link: http://www.asha.org/members/international/IntNonProfRes.htm