Speech and language therapy is an exciting and varied career. It offers you the chance to make a difference, a high degree of flexibility and excellent employment prospects. You’ll work with patients every day to help improve their care and their lives.
Training and qualifications required
You'll need to study for an approved degree, which takes three or four years full time or up to six years part time, or be employed as a degree apprentice in speech and language therapy with an employer. Full-time university courses in speech and language therapy may have different names, including speech and language pathology and speech science. To get onto an speech and language therapy degree course or degree apprenticeship, you usually need two or three A-levels (or equivalent qualifications), along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language, maths and science. Each institution and employer sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully.
Expected working hours and salary range
Speech and language therapists in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. They usually start at band 5 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Elsewhere, a speech and language therapist’s hours will depend on where they work. They may work evenings and weekends to suit private clients. Some speech and language therapists have to travel between client appointments.
Desirable skills and values
You'll need to enjoy using language and communication to help people, be able to motivate and reassure people, excellent communication and organisation skills and the ability to explain treatment to patients.
You may choose to specialise in a particular area of practice such asstammering, cleft palate or learning disability. Other options include teaching or research. You could also move into management, either within speech and language therapy services or general management. As head of a local speech and language therapy service you would be responsible for a team of staff and for managing a budget. Some speech and language therapists set up their own practice, on their own or with other professionals. They take on private clients, sometimes alongside NHS work.