So you want to be a speech and language therapist?
What’s it like to be a speech and language therapist?
What would I do?
Take our quiz to see what you know about speech and language therapy!
Q. True or False – Speech and language therapists (SLTs) help with elocution?
A. FALSE! Actually, we don’t! Speech and language therapy provides 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 another name for problems with swallowing.
Q.True or false – do speech and language therapists only work with children?
A. False, speech and language therapists work with adults and children.
These are only a few examples of what you could be doing as a speech and language therapist, explore more here.
Is the profession for me?
“I want to do something scientific”
Well, on your degree course you would learn about a wide range of biological and medical sciences, from anatomy, biological processes, neurology, audiology, psychiatry, paediatrics and gerontology, just to name a few!
“I’m a good listener”
SLTs are expects in communication. They use those skills to diagnose and treat communication disorders and conditions in children and adults. You will need empathy, persistence, patience and motivational skills.
“I like working in a team”
Many SLTs work as part of a wider team to help clients with a range of problems. For example, if you work in a team treating people with head and neck cancer, you would work alongside doctors, radiographers and nurses. You would work with them creatively to solve problems and design treatment programmes.
“I want to make a difference”
SLTs change lives! 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 people with conditions ranging from communication disorders, mental health issues, stroke, cancer and neurological disorders like Parkinsons and dementia.
Hear from our students and newly qualified SLTs
“I went into a career as a speech and language therapist, like most of us do, because we wanted to make a difference.”
What would I do?
Speech and language therapists work in more places than you might think! Yes you will find them in hospitals, but you’ll also see them in lots of other places:
- Secure units
- Owning their own speech and language therapy business
- Day centres for people with learning disabilities
- Hospitals in emergency care, acute care and outpatients
- Child development centres
- Care homes
- Community clinics
- Client’s home
How do I qualify?
Routes to qualification
To become a SLT you’ll need a degree that has been accredited by RCSLT and the HCPC. You can do this by going to university or, in the future, speech and language therapy employers will be able to offer an apprenticeship.
Not ready to start a degree? Get some valuable experience in speech and language therapy as a SLT assistant (SLTA).
A typical day at university
The RCSLT is actively supporting the development of apprenticeships, as they relate to speech and language therapy. Read our position statement.
The trailblazer group is delighted that the speech and language therapy degree apprenticeship standard and the end point assessment (EPA) have been approved. It is available here. The group drafted the degree standard so it is consistent with, and has as a basis, the new RCSLT curriculum guidance. It sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviour required of a newly qualified SLT.
During October and November 2018 there was a public consultation on it. Skills for Health received nearly 600 replies from a wide range of individuals and organisations.
Please see our FAQ document for answers to your frequently asked questions.
Further information for employers and universities
RCSLT will be drafting supporting guidance for employers and universities.
In the meantime read more information on apprenticeship requirements from the Government:
Further information for potential apprentices
Although the apprenticeship standard is now approved, potential employers of apprentices and universities now need to work together to develop the apprenticeship courses and these will need to be approved by the HCPC and accredited by RCSLT. It is likely to be 2021 when the first apprenticeships will be available. We will keep updating here with the latest progress so please do check back regularly. In the meantime, here are some FAQs about the apprenticeship.
Assistant and support workers
Speech and language therapists are supported in their work by SLTAs, assistant practitioners and other support workers. They support the role of a qualified SLT.
Their role may include:
- 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 SLTAs.
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 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)
Where can I study and what will it cost?
You can use our interactive map to find all the universities that offer accredited speech and language therapy programmes.
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.