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Speech and language therapy assistants are the frontline of helping patients with conditions that affect their communication, swallowing and feeding. It could also be your first step in becoming a speech and language therapist.
Training and qualifications required
There are no set entry requirements for speech and language therapy assistants. Employers expect good numeracy and literacy and some experience or qualifications in health or social care. Employers may ask for GCSEs in English and maths and may ask for NVQ, BTEC or an equivalent qualification in health and social care. They often ask for relevant work experience. You will be given the training you need to do the job, including an introduction to the department and its procedures. You may be offered the chance to study for qualifications such as the NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services or the NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support.
Expected working hours and salary range
Speech and language therapy assistants working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. You would typically start on AfC band 2. With further training and experience, you could apply for positions at band 3 or as an assistant practitioner at band 4. Most speech and language therapy assistants in the NHS work standard hours which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. They may work some evenings or weekends. Terms and conditions will usually be different for speech and language therapy assistants working outside of the NHS.
Desirable skills and values
Speech and language therapists need to be able to work with people of all ages, enjoy using language and communication to help people, be able to motivate people, be able to reassure people and enjoy working alone or as a member of a team. They also need excellent communication skills, the ability to motivate people, organisational skills and the ability to explain treatment to patients.
With experience, you could become a team leader supervising the work of other speech and language therapy assistants. You could apply to train as an assistant practitioner or, with the necessary qualifications, as a speech and language therapist.