arrow_leftarrow_rightburgerchevron_downchevron_rightdiscdownloadexternal_linksearchfacebookinstagramtwitteryoutubesquareuser-icon

Introduction

The RCSLT’s publication, ‘Speech and Language Therapy: Your Career as a Health Professional’, contains information about what SLTs do, where they work, and how to go about becoming one. It has been designed with 15 to 18-year-olds in mind and aims to bust some of the myths about what it means to be an SLT. Information about accredited speech and language therapy courses in the UK is available in the link at the bottom of this page.

If you have any questions regarding existing qualifications, entry requirements, placements and content of the courses please contact the University directly for this information.

If you have any questions regarding the profession please contact us.

How can I become an SLT?

All speech and language therapists must complete a recognised three- or four-year degree programme and register with the Health and Care Professions Council before being able to practise.

Programmes combine academic study and practice/clinical placements. Most require three A-level passes or five Scottish highers as minimum entry qualifications. Some require specific GCSE and A-levels, such as English and biology, so check the entry requirements with each university.

Many programmes welcome applications from suitably-qualified mature students. Universities may require evidence of recent study. If you already have an honours or equivalent degree, you may be eligible to enter a two-year postgraduate qualifying programme. Subjects in related fields (for example, psychology, social sciences and linguistics) are often preferred.

Overseas applicants should have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of no less than grade 8 overall, with no element below grade 7.5.

The practical components of the programmes are very important. These may take place in schools, NHS hospitals and community health clinics and develop skills in the assessment and treatment of people with communication, eating drinking and swallowing problems.

Should I become a speech and language therapist?

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 listening and 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.

It is worth visiting your local speech and language therapists. Your local health service can put you in contact with your nearest speech and language therapy service, which may organise group visits, video presentations or open evenings. Your local careers service can also provide information.

Independent (private) speech and language therapists

The Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice provides information about independent speech and language therapists throughout the UK.

All ASLTIP members are certified RCSLT members and are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.

SLTs working in voluntary roles

Some of our members work in voluntary positions for charities, others work in overseas health systems.

The RCSLT offers a discount on the membership fees for SLTs working in a voluntary role. Please contact us for more information on this.

NHS Careers

The NHS Careers website includes a comprehensive section on speech and language therapists.

Speech and language therapy pre-registration courses

Download the current list of universities offering HEI courses

Financial information for speech and language therapy students and prospective students

England

Prospective students for 2018/19
 
Students applying for both undergraduate and post-graduate pre-registration courses will be able to apply to the student loan company for a student loan.
 
In relation to post-graduate pre-registration courses students who have already taken out a student loan will still be able access to 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.
 
Further information on both routes can be found in the guides below including information about support for living costs, childcare and placements.

Undergraduate students who started in 2017

The financial support available for undergraduate students taking approved courses in speech and language therapy changed from 1st August 2017 in England. Students now apply for a student loan rather than receive an NHS bursary. There is also other funding support available for students with child dependants and support for excess travel and dual accommodation expenses in relation to attending placements. Further information is in the guides below.

Undergraduate students who started in 2016 or earlier and post-graduate students who started in 2017 or earlier

A guide is available and details the support you can get if you attend a health professional course in England.

Useful guides

The Funding Clinic
Money Saving Expert

Scotland

For information contact the Student Awards Agency for Scotland Tel: 0300 555 0505

The Funding Clinic in Scotland

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 (whilst on placement), Childcare, Disabled Student Allowance, Dependents Allowance and Parental Learning Allowance. If eligible, students will have access to a reduced student loan (subject to Student Loans Company Regulations).

The bursary scheme for EU nationals includes the provision of tuition fees only for those committing to work in Wales for at least two years. Students have to meet all other costs associated with studying in Wales. EU nationals that have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start of the course are eligible to the same package of support as UK nationals.

Individuals who do not feel they can commit to this specified period of employment will not be eligible to receive the benefits of the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme; however, they will still be able to study in Wales and will be able to access the following support:

Welsh domiciled students who do not wish to commit to work in Wales on completion of their course will have access to the standard student support package available from Student Finance Wales.

Prospective students will be informed by the university when they accept a place on the course to visit the NWSSP Student Awards Service website (on the Welsh Health Education Registration System section) where they will be asked to confirm electronically and in writing their commitment to work in Wales on completion of their course. This will then enable students to apply for the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme. Those students that do not wish to commit to work in Wales on completion of the course will also need to register on the Welsh Health Education Registration System and confirm this decision.

2019/20

The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services has indicated that the bursary will also be available for this year. See further information and the NHS (Wales) Student Awards Unit Tel: 029 2026 1495.

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

NI Direct health professionals courses
The Funding Clinic in Northern Ireland

Work experience

If you are interested in doing 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.

However, you may find this difficult to arrange – and the universities do recognise this issue. Course admissions tutors will look at your understanding of the profession and the needs of people with communications disorders, and also your ability to communicate with them, rather than whether you've simply observed therapists at work.

This means that any reading you have done, voluntary work and other relevant work experience are all regarded as relevant. Observation sessions are therefore not a necessity if you employ other methods.

Useful background experience can be gained with a variety of the client groups of speech and language therapy, e.g. children and adults with a learning disability, older people, and people recovering from a stroke or head injury etc.

Contact your local volunteer bureau or try to get some work experience in healthcare, a local nursing home or school. Local stroke groups also often need volunteers. The following organisations concerned with the needs of people with speech and language difficulties may also be able to provide information on opportunities for voluntary work:

Please also take a look at our Careers guide.

Assistants/Support workers

Speech and language therapists are supported in their work by speech and language therapy assistants, assistant practitioners and other support workers. They are employed to act in a supporting role and under the direction of a qualified SLT.

These assistants may undertake a variety of tasks, including:

  • supporting 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

The employing speech and language therapy service and its client groups will determine the roles and responsibilities of SLT assistants.

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.

Associate RCSLT membership

Support workers engaged in supporting the delivery of speech and language therapy practice can join the RCSLT as associate members.

Assistant membership brings a range of benefits, including:

  • Receipt of the monthly professional magazine Bulletin.
  • Information and professional advice.
  • Access to password-protected information, publications and e-group developed specifically for support workers.
  • Eligibility to apply for RCSLT minor grants and awards to fund training (advertised in Bulletin).
  • Access to RCSLT communities such as Hubs and Clinical Excellence Networks (CENs).

Useful resources:

SLT work settings overview

Speech and language therapists work in the following settings:

  • education - mainstream and special schools
  • justice - courtrooms, prisons, young offenders' institutions
  • health - community health centres, hospital wards, outpatient departments
  • children's centres
  • day centres
  • clients' homes
  • independently/in private practice

Speech and language therapists work with babies, children and adults:

Babies

Feeding and swallowing difficulties

Children

Adults

Communication or eating and swallowing problems following neurological impairments and degenerative conditions, including:

Coming to work in the UK as an SLT 

Mutual recognition agreement

Members of the following organisations may apply for RCSLT membership through the Mutual Recognition of Credentials Agreement (MRA). The application process for the UK and more information can be found here.

Organisations that are part of the Mutual Recognition Agreement:

If you trained as an SLT outside one of these countries, please contact the RCSLT Membership Team for information about RCSLT membership opportunities.

SLT Job Profiles

The Agenda for Change clinical profiles published in 2005 are the most current source of information on the skills required and tasks performed at each level by SLTs working in the UK. Links to these, along with the NHS Job Evaluation handbook are below and hosted on the NHS Employers website. 

While these have been developed for the NHS, they can be used to inform the development of job descriptions and person specifications for other employment sectors.
 
National Profiles for Speech and Language Therapists 
NHS Job Evaluation Handbook

Pay scales

Pay scales for SLTs and assistants working in the NHS

The NHS Employers website details the latest national pay award for staff covered by the Agenda for Change agreement.

Payment by Results - Funding for NHS in England (May 2005)

Practical support for Allied Health Professionals, published by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy but relevant to all AHP-led professions.

These pay scale pages are for information only. If you have a dispute about salaries contact your union representative. Legislation does not allow the RCSLT to get involved in salary negotiations.