Returning to the profession

The RCSLT is keen to encourage therapists who have been on career breaks to return to working as part time or full time SLTs.

Find out details of the HCPC returner to practice regulations.  We strongly advise you to contact HCPC to advise them that you intend to return to practice and to seek clarification around specific requirements for you. 

Your RCSLT membership status when you return to work?

If you have been out of practice for more than two years, apply to become a 'returner' RCSLT member, whether you work part-time or full-time, for one year and transfer to the full membership list again. 

Informal online group for returners

The RCSLT has an informal Basecamp group for people who are returning to practice. If you would like to be added to this group, please contact

Returning to practice distance learning courses

There are a number of ‘return to practice’ courses being developed or run by universities across the country. Birmingham City University run a distance learning course aimed at therapists returning to practice after a career break. This course counts for approx. 115 hours towards the HCPC return to work process and is classed as ‘professional study’. For more information on this and other courses which may be available please contact the RCSLT on or 0207 378 3012.

Thinking of taking a career break?

Feedback from some of our members who are currently returning to practice have asked us to publicise some key information about taking a career break.

What is a career break?

If you do not practice for more than two years you will need to complete the HCPC returning to practice process.  If you have not practiced for more than two years, but have remained on the HCPC register you do not need to complete the returning to practice process. However,  you may feel you want to complete some form of returning to work evidence to increase your confidence, knowledge and skills, in this case please contact our enquiries coordinator to discuss your options: or 0207 378 3012.

Is it easy to get back into the profession after a break?

With the current financial climate, it is likely to be a challenging time for returners to practice who need extra supervision/support from employers and who are competing with SLTs who have not had a career break. HCPC rules state that a returner to practice cannot use the Speech and Language Therapist protected title until they have completed the returning to practice process and are back on the HCPC register. However, once you have completed the returning to work process you will be able to apply for roles as before.

What advice can you give?

A tip suggested by the RCSLT Returners to practice forum is to ideally avoid lapsing your HCPC registration. According to the HCPC you can still be considered practising as long as you continue to undertake CPD and practice even a small amount per year. Please see below for their definition.

Defining ‘practising your profession’

We have received a number of enquiries from health professionals who are concerned that their practice may not ‘count’ as ‘practising their profession’. The largest number of these enquiries were from health professionals working in education, management or research, which we have always assured registrants is part of practice. However, we have also received a number of enquiries from people who work on a voluntary basis, or do occasional part-time work, or who have moved into a role that is related to their profession, but not directly part of it.

We do not want to exclude people from the Register who work in these kinds of newer roles, or people who are using their professional skills in some capacity but are worried that they will not be considered to be ‘practising their profession’ in a traditional, direct way. We also believe that in many cases the person best placed to decide whether someone is practising their profession will be the health professional themselves. For the purposes of renewing registration, or determining whether return to practice requirements need to be met, we have defined ‘practising your profession’ as drawing on your professional skills and/or knowledge in the course of your work. You will need to make a personal decision about whether you are doing this.”

Does maternity leave count as a career break?

Maternity leave that is under two years would not be considered a career break. If it is over two years then we would recommend contacting the HCPC to discuss your individual case. Please visit the page on maternity leave and CPD.

Are you living in England?

If you are living in England then you may like to know that Health Education England has a new programme to encourage returners to practice. It covers funding in three areas: academic study, practice placement and out of pocket expenses. Find out more

Any further questions?

If you have further queries about returning to practice or wish to join the free RCSLT Returning to Practice online e-group, contact

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