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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.

What does a speech and language therapist do? (Janet Cooper)

 

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

Videos

Want to know more about what speech and language therapists do, how they change peoples’ lives, tips on applying to a course and what the course is like? Take a look at this 50 minute workshop, first broadcast at the #healthcareerslive virtual event in July 2020.

Videos courtesy of BBC Tiny Happy People

 

COVID-19

The Speech, Voice and Swallowing team at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has produced two videos to support patients with swallowing and voice problems following COVID-19. They highlight problems to look out for after COVID-19 and methods of self-help. The videos also highlight the important role SLTs have in the rehabilitation of patients.
 
Videos were created in consultation with experts from the RCSLT, the British Voice Association and the British Laryngological Association, and were kindly filmed and edited by John Nicolson of the BBC and his team.

Swallowing Problems after COVID-19

Problems with eating, drinking and swallowing, known as ‘dysphagia’,  can happen to people recovering from COVID-19. This video shows how to spot signs of dysphagia and what to do, including practising good mouth care and exercises to improve lip and tongue strength. (July 2020)

Voice Problems after COVID-19

We are finding that some people recovering from Covid 19 are experiencing problems with voice. This video gives some simple and practical advice about how to look after your voice and reduce irritation following Covid 19. (July 2020)

 

75th Anniversary

A wonderful video compiled by the students of Ulster University to celebrate RCSLT’s 75th Anniversary from a student’s perspective.

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. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that development work was paused but we hope to restart this autumn. This means a likely delay in the dates universities and employers will be able to offer the apprenticeship, although we are aware that the University of Essex, in partnership with employers, has announced its intention to offer the apprenticeship from 2021. When the apprenticeship is available, you will be able to apply for an apprenticeship with an employer who is offering them.

Take a look at our flyer and the information below for more 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 at thefundingclinic.org.uk 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.

 

In December 2019 the Government announced that from September 2020 students studying the nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects will receive a non-repayable and non-means tested grant of at least £5,000 a year, in addition to existing student support. We have confirmed that this funding will be available to speech and language therapy students. Funding will be offered to existing students as well as new course entrants.

 

There will be additional funding available to attract students to the highest-priority subjects based on the Government's assessment of vulnerability and workforce priorities. Additional funding will also be available for childcare and to support regional vulnerabilities. Total additional funding could come to as much as £3,000 per year for some students. We are expecting the Government to announce more details early in 2020.

 

Other 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

 

Applying for a speech and language therapy degree or masters?

Getting some relevant work experience under your belt can make a big difference to your chances of being accepted on a speech and language therapy degree course.

During the coronavirus pandemic, however, access to work experience for prospective students has been in short supply.

The universities that provide speech and language therapy courses understand this situation, so if you haven’t been able to secure work experience this year, don’t worry. You chances of being accepted on a speech and language therapy course will not be affected because of it.

When writing your personal statement or preparing for an interview at university to study speech and language therapy, you will need to demonstrate your interest and understanding of the profession. All universities have their own admissions criteria and some set out their expectations for relevant experience on their own websites, so please do also refer to these.

Luckily, there are lots of ways you can do this without leaving your front door!

Below is a reading list for prospective speech and language therapy students aimed at giving you an understanding of some of the conditions and disabilities that a speech and language therapist might help to support.

You can use some of the insights you gain from these books as reflections to support your university application.

 

Books

 

The diving bell and the butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
A memoir where the writer describes his life before and after suffering a stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome.

The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide: How to Grow Up Awesome and Autistic by Siena Castellon
Advice and tips to help autistic girls live their best lives.

A stitch in time: The year a brain injury changed my language and my life by Lauren Marks.
One woman's journey to regaining her language and identity after a brain aneurysm affects her ability to communicate.

Adventures in the mainstream: Coming of age with Down syndrome by Greg Palmer
A father chronicles two of the most important years in the life of his son, who has Down syndrome.

The man who mistook his wife for a hat by Oliver Sacks.
The famous neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to their neurological disorders.

My stroke of insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
A doctor’s first-hand account of a stroke and the process of recovery.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
A murder mystery in which the protagonist is 15 years old with Asperger's Syndrome.

Let me finish: A rare insight into living with a lifelong stammer by Paul O’Meara
A memoir about navigating the world as someone who stammers.

 

More resources to help support your university application for a speech and language therapy degree.

The RCSLT wants to encourage more students from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to become speech and language therapists. A diverse profession makes for a stronger profession, and a diverse workforce helps us to reflect the communities we serve. The RCSLT has compiled this anti-racist reading and resources list to support learning on the subject.

 

Applying for a speech and language therapy degree or masters?

 

When writing a personal statement or preparing for an interview to study speech and language therapy, you can draw on these resources below to develop your understanding of the profession and what it means to be a speech and language therapist.

The RCSLT’s Speech and language therapy: your career as a health professional

Podcasts

Webinars

The following service user organisations, charities and support groups offer valuable resources and insights for prospective SLTS:

 

When writing your personal statement or preparing for an interview at university to study speech and language therapy, you will need to demonstrate your interest and understanding of the profession.

Here are some tips we’ve gathered from university speech and language therapy university admission tutors about the kinds of things they look for when reviewing applications.

  • Evidence of wide and diverse reading to support the applicant’s understanding of their choice, and which goes beyond more that ‘what an SLT does’. Bring those reflections into your application.
  • An explanation of why the applicant wants to train as a speech and language therapist and what makes them suitable for this degree and career.
  • An application specifically tailored to a speech and language therapy course.
  • Evidence that the applicant has undertaken research into the speech and language therapy profession and what they learned as a result.
  • What skills from all parts of life can the applicant bring to the profession?
  • An understanding of what might be important from a service user’s perspective.
  • An understanding of how the applicant’s personal values align with those of the NHS constitution.

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