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What do speech and language therapists do?


SLTs help people of all ages with speech, language and communication problems. They can also help people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. These issues can be caused by physical or learning disabilities, mental health issues, developmental delays, illnesses and injuries.


There’s no such thing as a typical day for an SLT. They can work as part of a multidisciplinary team or as a private practitioner, but one thing they all have in common is that they endeavour to improve the quality of life for their patients and clients. 

Whether it's helping an adult who has had a stroke learn to talk again, or helping premature babies with feeding and swallowing problems. SLTs make a huge difference to the people they work with.

Where do speech and language therapists work?

Speech and language therapists work in more places than you might think, including:

  • Hospitals in emergency care, acute care and outpatients
  • Schools
  • Prisons
  • Secure units
  • Child development centres
  • Care homes
  • Nurseries
  • Their own speech and language therapy business
  • Day centres for people with learning disabilities
  • Community clinics
  • Client's homes

Speech and language therapy - what do you know about it?

Q. Do speech and language therapists help with elocution?

A. No. Speech and language therapists provide treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking and swallowing. 

Q. Do speech and language therapists help people who have problems with choking?


A. Yes, they do. Speech and language therapists help people with dysphagia, which is the medical term for swallowing difficulties.

Q. Do speech and language therapists only work with children?

A. Speech and language therapists work with all age groups. 

Q: Is speech and language therapy scientific? 

A: On your degree course, you’ll learn about a wide range of biological and medical sciences, from anatomy, biological processes, neurology, audiology, psychiatry, paediatrics and gerontology.

Q: How do I know speech and language therapy is the right career choice for me? 


A: If you're wondering whether speech and language therapy is the career choice for you, ask yourself if you:

 

  • Enjoy working with people of all ages.
  • Can work as part of a team.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Enjoy solving problems.
  • Have the capacity to study.
  • Want to be part of a dynamic, rapidly developing profession which draws on science, education and medicine.

If you answered yes to any of the above then speech and language therapy could be the profession for you. 


If you have any other questions regarding the profession please get in touch

What qualifications do you need to become a speech and language therapist?


In the UK, the title speech and language therapist is protected, therefore you must complete a registered, accredited degree-level course to be able to practice as a speech and language therapist.


The degree-level courses can be completed at either undergraduate (BSc Hons) level or postgraduate (PG Dip or MSc) level. 


The main differences and requirements for each are:

 

  • Undergraduate (BSc) – requires A level passes in various subjects which are set by the individual universities but typically subjects like languages (including English), biology, psychology, or sciences are accepted. 
  • Postgraduate (PG Dip or MSc) – requires a previous degree qualification in a related subject (check with the individual universities) usually a science, language or psychology degree. The applicant normally is required to have achieved a grade no lower than 2:1 in their previous degree to be accepted. 

Undergraduate courses take between 3-4 years to complete depending on the university chosen. Postgraduate courses usually take about 2 years to complete.  On successful completion, you will be able to apply to the HCPC to register to practise as an SLT in the UK and to use the protected title.


If you are unsure which route is best for you, contact the individual universities who will be happy to talk through your options.

Speech and language therapy courses 

You can use our interactive map to find all the universities that offer accredited speech and language therapy undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as speech and language therapy masters courses. 


All of these programmes are approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (the HCPC) and are accredited by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (the RCSLT).


Click the pin of the university location and the details of the university and their programmes will appear in a pop-out box. You can filter by delivery mode, for example, part or full-time study or by undergraduate or postgraduate level study.


You can also download the list of universities offering accredited programs here

Apprenticeships

We are working on a new route to becoming a speech and language therapist via a degree apprenticeship. When the apprenticeship is available, which is likely to be in 2021, you will be able to apply for an apprenticeship with an employer who is offering them. At present, it is still too early to know which employers will be offering them. Take a look at our flyer with the details.

What will the entry requirements be?

It will be up to the employer and university offering the apprenticeship to decide the entry requirements, but we would not expect them to be significantly different to current university entry requirement,

How long will it take?

We anticipate that the apprenticeship will be approximately four years long. If you already have a degree in a relevant subject, it may be possible to do the apprenticeship at masters level in a shorter time than the expected four years.

Will I get a degree at the end?

Yes, on successful completion of both the university requirements and the apprenticeship end-point assessment.

Will I be paid?

Yes. It will be up to your employer how much, subject to the legal minimum wage for apprentices.This guide explains the basics.

Will I have to pay tuition fees/will I have a student loan?

No. The fees for your tuition will come directly from the Government. You will not have a student loan.

Will the apprenticeship be open to existing employees/ SLT assistants?

Yes, it is possible for employers to offer apprenticeships to existing employees, subject to the entry (and any other) requirements that they set.

Financial information for students 

England

Please visit www.gov.uk/student-finance for basic information about student finance in England. 


The guide below covers more detailed information about the student loan in England, including the special arrangements for loans for post-graduate students on healthcare courses.

 

Students who have already taken out a student loan are still able to access another loan to study these courses. This is not the standard postgraduate student loan but the same loan as that accessed by undergraduate students to cover tuition fees and support living costs. thefundingclinic.org.uk


A guide for existing students who receive the NHS Bursary can be found here


Useful guides:

 

Scotland

In Scotland, students are supported under the general funding system and can apply for bursaries and loans depending on status and income. 


Additional allowances are available depending on circumstances such as a Dependants’ Grant for carers, the lone parents’ Grant and disabled students’ allowance.


You can also claim travel and accommodation costs for placements.


For information contact the Student Awards Agency for Scotland Tel: 0300 555 0505 or visit: saas.gov.uk


Useful guides:

 

Wales

From September 2018, the Welsh NHS Bursary will only be available for students studying in Wales who have committed to work in Wales for 2 years on completion of their course. 


The NHS Welsh Bursary Scheme is provided by Student Awards Services.  In addition to tuition fees, the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme includes a bursary for living costs, including:

 

  • A £1,000 non means-tested grant.
  • A means-tested bursary.

Students are also supported for costs such as travel, accommodation (while on placement), Childcare, Disabled Student Allowance, Dependents Allowance and Parental Learning Allowance. 


For further information, please visit: www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/student-awards or call the NHS (Wales) Student Awards Unit Tel: 029 2090 5380.

Northern Ireland

For students who have lived in Northern Ireland for the last three years, the Department of Health in Northern Ireland will pay tuition fees directly to the university. 


Students can apply for an income-assessed bursary to help with living costs and may also be eligible to apply for a reduced rate, non-income assessed loan.


Students from EU countries who are ordinarily resident and studying in Northern Ireland may also qualify for financial support. The amount of bursary available to students will depend on an individual and family's income.

 

For further information contact NI Direct on 028 902 577 77 or visit:

 

Speech and language therapy salary

 

As a speech and language therapist, your salary will depend on where you work, your level of seniority, demand for services and the type of employer.


Information on NHS pay scales can be found here.


Useful guides

 

How to become a speech and language therapist assistant

There are no specific qualifications that you are required to complete to become a speech and language therapy assistant or support worker, this is because most of the training is completed on the job, although employers do look for good A levels in English and Maths.

What do speech and language therapist assistants do? 

Speech and language therapy assistants may be expected to work with children, elderly people, adults and people with learning disabilities. 


They may work with a variety of client groups, under the supervision of a speech and language therapist.


As an assistant, you’ll undertake a variety of tasks, including some or all of the following:

 

  • Helping clients to develop communication skills.
  • Developing, preparing and maintaining therapeutic materials.
  • Working with clients on a one-to-one basis, with regular monitoring and therapy programme adjustment by an SLT.
  • Supporting and facilitating group therapy activities.
  • Preparing and restoring environments for speech and language therapy.
  • Clerical and administrative tasks.

Useful guides: 

 

Speech and language therapy work experience 

If you are interested in work experience, the RCSLT’s advice is to contact your local speech and language therapy service as they may be able to arrange an observation session.


Useful background experience can be gained by observing a speech and language therapist at work at a local nursing home, within a school or at a local stroke group. 


However, as course admissions tutors look at your understanding of the profession and your communication skills (especially in regard to communicating with people who have communication issues), voluntary work and other work experience can be relevant, but it’s not essential. 


Some colleges and organisations offer career days where you can find out about speech and language therapy. These sessions can be a great place to start on your journey to becoming a speech and language therapist. 


If you do decide you want to arrange an observation session, the following organisations may be able to provide information on opportunities for voluntary work and speech and language therapy observation opportunities:

 

The RCSLT careers booklet 

Our careers booklet has more information about becoming a Speech and language therapist. 

 

If you want to know more about becoming a speech and language therapist, please get in touch