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Job Photographs

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Inputting patient data.

  • A woman is sitting in a chair, with a plastic cup of water in her hands.  Another woman is standing next to her; she is pressing a stethoscope to the drinking woman's neck.

    Assessing a patient's swallow.

  • A woman is sitting in a chair, with her mouth wide open.  Another woman is sitting in front of her, shining a torch into her open mouth.

    Assessing oral movements.

  • A woman is sitting in a chair, in front of a mirror.  Another woman is standing next to her.

    Demonstrating exercises.

  • Two women are sitting and talking.  They are both looking at a book.

    Explaining to a patient how the voice is produced.

  • A woman is sitting in a chair.  A woman is sitting in front of her; she placing a small stick on her lips.

    Working on lip-resistance exercises.

  • Two women are sitting on chairs, facing each other.  They are both holding sheets of paper with words written on them.  The woman in the foreground has the words 'Good Morning' written on her piece of paper.

    Helping a patient to practise breath control.

  • Two women are sitting next to each other.  One of the women is sitting in a wheelchair.  Another woman is sitting in front of them, and she is talking.

    Talking with a patient and carer.

  • Speech and Language Therapist

Speech and Language Therapist

Introduction

Speech and Language Therapists help people to deal with and overcome communication and eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. They spend a lot of their time working with children but they can work with people of any age. They also work with parents, carers, teachers and other healthcare professionals.

Also known as

  • Therapist, Speech and Language

Video: - Helen: Speech and Language Therapist

Work Activities

As a Speech and Language Therapist, you will work with a wide range of clients, including children and adults who have:

  • difficulty in making and using the sounds needed for speech
  • problems with understanding and using language
  • voice problems
  • a stammer
  • swallowing difficulties

You will assess each client and then decide and plan how best to support and treat them. Clients can have difficulties with communication for a number of reasons, including

  • stroke
  • physical and learning disabilities
  • problems they are born with
  • hearing loss or deafness
  • degenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease
  • head injury
  • cancer of the mouth or throat
  • some mental health problems

When you first meet a client, you'll have to build a friendly, trusting relationship with them, so you can diagnose the problem. To diagnose problems, you'll use a range of information, including medical notes, and the results of observing the patient and discussing the problem with them.

Often, your assessment will be based on talks you have had with other health professionals, including Doctors, Nurses and Psychologists. You could also talk to people such as Teachers, family members and Carers.

Next, you will begin to plan the treatment. This could happen in a number of places, including hospitals, clinics and local health centres, GPs' surgeries, schools and day centres, and the client's own home. You may need to travel throughout your local area to work in different places.

Apart from being a good treatment in itself, the therapy must also be interesting, to keep the client's attention. This increases the chances of success. Working with children, in particular, means there is a need to create imaginative and varied exercises.

You'll see patients individually and in group sessions. Sometimes, a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant might support you.

A large part of your work is with children, dealing with problems such as stammering that can lead young people to withdraw from social situations. You could be working with pre-school children, for example, if their language skills are not developing as they should, or they have not begun to speak at all.

You could also be responsible for training people who have contact with or responsibility for the patient, such as Teachers, Care Assistants in residential homes, parents and hospital staff. This educational and preventative role is becoming increasingly important.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Speech and Language Therapist, you'll need

  • to enjoy working with people
  • communication skills
  • the ability to encourage and inspire people
  • patience, tact and sensitivity
  • problem-solving skills
  • the ability to plan and organise treatment
  • some creativity, to plan exercises that are imaginative and varied
  • teamwork and interpersonal skills, for example, to work with Doctors, Teachers, families and Carers, Psychologists and Social Workers
  • clinical and scientific knowledge
  • willingness to keep up to date with changes in practice and treatments

Progress can often be slow and painstaking, so you need the ability to help and support clients through periods of frustration and disappointment, and to cope with these feelings in yourself.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting - Band 5: £24,214 - £30,112

Hours of work

Speech and Language Therapists in the NHS usually work 35-36.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. There are opportunities for part-time work.

Where could I work?

Most Speech and Language Therapists work in the NHS (in hospitals and in the community), local authorities, schools and voluntary organisations.

Opportunities for Speech and Language Therapists occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

There are opportunities for Speech and Language Therapists to become self-employed in independent practice.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists' Bulletin Supplement and on its website, on the NHS Jobs website, in local/national newspapers and job boards.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes and training

Entry and training is usually through a three or four year degree course. The course must allow you to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Speech and Language Therapist.

Course titles vary, including speech and language therapy, speech sciences, and speech pathology and therapy.

Subjects covered during training usually include speech and language sciences; behavioural sciences and psychology; language disorders; and biomedical sciences such as anatomy and physiology. Practical work takes you into places such as schools, hospitals and community health clinics.

Birmingham City University offers a part-time BSc (Hons) degree in speech and language therapy, taking six years to complete.

Or, if you're a graduate, you could train through a number of recognised two-year postgraduate courses. To enter, you'll usually need a 2:1 in a relevant first degree, for example, psychology, social sciences, linguistics, biology, medical sciences or education. Some universities accept graduates in any subject, sometimes only when they also have some relevant work experience.

You can gain relevant work experience as a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant, or through other work that involves contact with client groups such as children, older adults and disabled people.

A full list of courses at different levels is available on the HCPC website.

The Allied Health Professions Support Service (AHPSS) supports disabled people on recognised courses. This support includes careers advice and help with selecting and using assistive technology. For more information, please contact the AHPSS (contact details are in 'Further Information').

The Welsh Government funds the education and training for a range of health professional education courses, (details of the specific courses are found at www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/undergraduate-education). To be eligible for a bursary you must commit to working in Wales following completion of your programme.

More information about the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme can be accessed on the Student Awards Services website: www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/course-starts-on-or-after-1-september-20

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details

Progression

Newly qualified Speech and Language Therapists usually work on a general caseload for about a year. You can then specialise in a particular client group or area of the work. Progression could also be into a teaching, research or management post.

Work Experience

Some entrants have relevant experience, for example, of working with:

  • children
  • older adults
  • people with voice impairment or hearing loss
  • disabled people

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.

This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

Qualifications

For entry to a recognised degree course, the usual minimum requirement is:

  • 3 A levels. Some universities specify at least one science subject (biology might be preferred). Otherwise, sciences, social sciences, psychology and languages (including English language) are preferred subjects.
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 and above in your A level subjects
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs. Specified subjects might include English language, biology, maths and a modern foreign language.

Equivalent qualifications, such as BTEC level 3 qualifications and the International Baccalaureate Diploma, might be acceptable for entry - please check college/university websites very carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Some entrants have relevant experience, for example, of working with:

  • children
  • older adults
  • people with voice impairment or hearing loss
  • disabled people.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter an accredited degree, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course, such as Access to Science. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.

Birmingham City University offers a part-time BSc (Hons) degree in Speech and Language Therapy, taking six years to complete.

You can enter speech and language therapy degrees if you're a graduate with a background in psychology, linguistics or a related subject.

Graduates can also train through two-year accredited postgraduate courses. You will usually need a relevant first degree for entry, for example, in a biological science, psychology or linguistics, although this is not a fixed rule. You will also usually need some work experience, for example, as a speech and language therapy assistant, or with one of the relevant client groups.

Further Information

LGjobs

Local government vacancies

Website: www.lgjobs.com

myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies

Scottish enquiries

Email: myjobscotland@cosla.gov.uk

Website: www.myjobscotland.gov.uk

NHS Wales Careers

Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare

Email: abm.wedsteam@wales.nhs.uk

Website: www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/829/page/36090

NHS Jobs

Website: www.jobs.nhs.uk

Step into the NHS

NHS careers

Tel: 0345 6060655

Website: www.stepintothenhs.nhs.uk

Skills for Health

Skills for the health sector

Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP

Tel: 0117 9221155

Email: office@skillsforhealth.org.uk

Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Address: Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU

Tel: 0845 3006184

Email: education@hcpc-uk.org

Website: www.hcpc-uk.org

NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN

Tel: 0131 6563200

Email: enquiries@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Website: www.nes.scot.nhs.uk

Allied Health Professions Support Service (AHPSS)

Address: AHPSS Resource Centre, University of East London, Stratford Campus, Water Lane, Stratford, London E15 4LZ

Tel: 020 8223 4950

Email: info@ahpss.com

Website: www.ahpss.co.uk

NHS Business Services Authority

Website: www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)

Address: 2 White Hart Yard, London SE1 1NX

Tel: 020 7378 1200

Email: info@rcslt.org

Website: www.rcslt.org

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith

Cymraeg

Welcome to Careers Wales

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