CAREER DEVELOPMENT / APR. 23, 2014
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How to Become a Speech and Language Pathologist

Your work as a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) would entail assessing and supporting people with communication difficulties.  You would also help people who experience difficulties in swallowing, eating and drinking.

You would need to be a good communicator; be sensitive and understanding and be able to motivate people to complete their course of treatment.

Interested in science and health, you would have a caring and patient personality as well as the ability to build positive working relationships with people of all ages and from all backgrounds.  You must be good at problem solving and be creative especially when working with children who might find therapy a frightening or daunting experience.  You must be able to work as part of a team, but would also have the confidence to work alone when required.

The Work

Your role as a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) will entail working with adults and children with issues surrounding speech.  They may be unable to make themselves understood; this could be through problems using or understanding language, or through a stammer.  You will also help people who have difficulties in chewing, swallowing or feeding.

These problems may have occurred following an injury or an illness such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease or stroke.  You would also work with people who have learning difficulties or mental health problems.

Your duties would usually involve:

  • observing clients and using tests to determine their individual difficulties
  • working with clients to plan and develop therapy programs
  • providing support during treatment
  • working with teachers and doctors to achieve the best results for your clients
  • advising and teaching parents and carers to enable them to continue the client’s therapy at home
  • maintaining detailed records of your clients’ progress

Hours

Your normal working week would be from Monday to Friday, around 37,5 hours in total.  You may be able to work part-time or job share.

You would generally be based at a hospital or clinic and would be required to visit patients on hospital wards.  Community work could also be involved, perhaps in a health centre, school or nursery.  You could also be required to visit patients in their own homes.

A driving licence is essential for this role.

Income

Position

Average Basic Salary

Qualified Speech & Language Pathologist   

£21,388 - £27,901

Specialist Speech & Language Pathologist   

£34,530

Team Leaders

£40,000 +

Advanced Speech & Language Pathologist   

£40,000 +

Entry requirements

  • five GCSEs at grades A-C and three ‘A’ levels including English and Biology
  • degree in speech and language therapy or human communication as approved by the Health and Care Professions Council
  • relevant experience working with a qualified therapist
  • two year postgraduate course in speech and language therapy if you already have a degree in a science or language-based subject

Training and Development

Your initial client list within the NHS would be varied and general to give you a good grounding in the role.  After a year you could choose to specialise and continue to work with a particular group or in a particular field such as people with learning difficulties or infants.  You could opt to continue your education through one of a range of post-registration courses; you could study management or move into research.

For the duration of your career you have a responsibility to continue your education through private research using industry reference material and the internet, and by reading relevant publications and papers.

Useful resources

http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk (NHS Careers)

http://www.rcslt.org (Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists)

http://www.hpc-uk.org (Health and Care Professions Council)

http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk (Skills for Health)

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