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Speech and language therapist

Speech and language therapists help children and adults who have communication problems, or difficulties with eating, drinking or swallowing.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £41,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need a degree in speech and language therapy or human communication that's approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

If you've a degree in a science or language-based subject, you could do a 2-year fast-track postgraduate course in speech and language therapy.

For some roles you'll need to visit clients in their homes, so you'll need a driving licence.

You may be able to get NHS funding to pay for your course fees and help with your living expenses.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • the ability to create positive working relationships with clients of all ages
  • creativity, to turn therapy into a game when working with children
  • the ability to motivate and encourage clients to continue with treatment

3. What you'll do

You'll work with children and adults who may have:

  • difficulties making themselves understood through speech
  • problems understanding and using language
  • a stammer
  • difficulties with feeding, chewing or swallowing

These challenges may be as a result of injury, stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, mental health problems or a learning difficulty.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • talking to clients, observing them and using tests to assess specific difficulties
  • planning and developing therapy programmes
  • supporting clients through treatment
  • working closely with colleagues like doctors and teachers
  • coaching parents and carers to continue their therapy at home
  • keeping detailed progress records
  • working with groups or individuals to improve the way they communicate

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000 and £28,000

Experienced: £26,000 and £35,000

Highly Experienced: £35,000 to £41,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll work around 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday.

You'll usually work in a hospital’s therapy department, running a clinic and visiting patients on wards. You could also work in a health centre, day nursery or school. You may visit patients in their home.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in areas like:

  • helping children with special educational needs
  • helping eating, drinking and swallowing disorders (dysphagia)

With further training, you could move into teaching and research. You could also become self-employed.

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Last updated: 21 December 2016