Speech and language therapist job profile (2023)

Speech and language therapists help patients of all ages with varying levels of speech, language and communication problems, or difficulties in swallowing, drinking or eating

As a speech and language therapist (SLT), you'll provide treatment, care and support to babies, children, adults and elderly people with a range of conditions, including cleft palate, stammering, language delay and voice disorders. These can be caused by a range of issues, including:

  • developmental delays
  • injury
  • illness
  • learning disabilities
  • mental health conditions
  • physical disabilities.

You'll usually work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside other health professionals, and will often liaise with family, carers or teachers when developing treatment plans. You can also work in private practice.

Responsibilities

Your tasks will vary depending on your client and the nature of the problem. However, you'll typically need to:

  • identify the speech and communication difficulty or disorder
  • assess the cause and nature of the problem, for example, congenital problems (such as cleft palate) or acquired disorders after a stroke or injury
  • devise and deliver a suitable treatment programme, working on a one-to-one basis or in groups, to enable each of your clients to improve as much as possible
  • review and revise the programme as appropriate
  • advise carers on implementing a treatment programme and train other professionals in therapy delivery
  • monitor and evaluate your clients' progress
  • write confidential client case notes and reports, as well as information for clients, carers and other professionals
  • manage a caseload while taking into account priority cases, waiting lists, successful outcomes, referral and discharge of service users
  • work within a team to improve the effectiveness of service delivery.

At a more senior level, you'll need to:

  • conduct personal development reviews with colleagues
  • support newly qualified SLTs and speech and language therapy assistants
  • plan and deliver training sessions
  • undertake clinical audit
  • participate in research projects.

Salary

  • Jobs in the NHS are usually covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay rates consisting of nine pay bands. As a newly qualified SLT your starting salary is likely to be £24,907 (Band 5), rising up the pay scale to £30,615.
  • As a specialist SLT you can earn between £31,365 and £37,890 (Band 6).
  • Typical salaries for advanced or highly specialised SLTs range from £38,890 to £44,503 (Band 7). Some management roles (for example, head of children's therapies) can attract higher salaries at Band 8.

Salaries in the public and private sector are usually broadly equivalent to the NHS bands.

Fees in independent practice vary significantly depending on the scope and size of your practice, your experience and reputation, and your location.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

If you're working for the NHS, you will typically work 37.5-hours a week. In other settings you may need to work some evenings or weekends to suit client needs.

There are opportunities for flexible or part-time work and job-sharing.

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What to expect

  • Jobs are available throughout the UK, although there are more opportunities in cities and towns.
  • You can work in a range of settings, for example hospitals, health centres, day-care centres, rehabilitation units, schools or pre-schools, a client's home, prisons or young offenders' institutions. It's possible to work in several different locations during the week.
  • Depending on where you work, you may need to travel between client visits.
  • With experience, you can take on freelance work or become self-employed.
  • Competition for entry-level posts is fierce and it's important to be geographically flexible if possible.

Qualifications

To practise as a SLT you must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). In order to register you'll need to complete an HCPC-approved undergraduate or postgraduate degree in speech and language therapy.

Undergraduate degree courses typically last three or four years full time and combine both theory and clinical practice. Clinical practice takes place in NHS hospitals, schools, community health clinics and day centres under the supervision of qualified therapists.

For most undergraduate courses you'll need at least five GCSEs or equivalent (including maths and English language, and sometimes a science) and three A-levels or equivalent. Some providers may ask for specific subjects such as English, languages, psychology and sciences. Applications for undergraduate degrees are made through UCAS.

A speech and language therapist degree apprenticeship has also been approved for delivery, combining paid work with part-time study. Vacancies will be available via NHS Jobs or Find an apprenticeship.

If you already have a degree, you can take an accelerated two-year postgraduate course in order to qualify. Some course providers will ask for specific subjects relevant to speech and language therapy such as psychology, human biology, linguistics/languages, education, social science or medical sciences. Applications for postgraduate study are made directly to the relevant institution.

Entry requirements for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses vary so you should check with course providers for details of what they are looking for. A list of approved courses is available on the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) website.

All pre-registration undergraduate and postgraduate speech and language therapy students on an eligible course in England can receive non-repayable funding support of at least £5,000 per year towards their studies. For full details, see the NHS Learning Support Fund.

Details of financial support for students studying in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are available from:

Entry without a degree is possible at speech and language therapy assistant practitioner level, working with qualified SLTs. You'll receive training on the job and may have the opportunity to take an S/NVQ or BTEC qualification or a healthcare apprenticeship.

Once you've successfully completed an approved undergraduate or postgraduate qualification, you're eligible to register with the HCPC and begin practising.

Skills

You'll need to have:

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  • excellent communication and listening skills, to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds, motivate clients and gain trust. Clients may be uncooperative because they're frightened, frustrated or disorientated by their situation
  • patience, as progress may be slow - involving repetitive exercises to aid clients who have problems memorising, processing and retaining information
  • creativity and problem-solving skills, to design programmes appropriate for different learning styles and communication issues
  • the ability to work in a team, for interacting with other professionals
  • organisational skills and flexibility, to deal with a range of clients in varied settings
  • the ability to be at ease in a clinical environment
  • qualities such as empathy, assertiveness, tact, a sense of humour and physical and mental stamina.

You'll also need a driving licence, particularly if you're working as a community speech and language therapist, to travel between appointments.

Knowledge of Welsh, Gaelic or community languages may be a requirement or an advantage in some parts of the UK.

Work experience

Competition for places on training programmes is strong and you'll need to show that you have an understanding of what an SLT does when you apply. Try and arrange an observation session at your local speech and language therapy service.

Relevant work experience, including voluntary work, is also useful. This can include working with children and adults with a learning disability, the elderly or disabled people, particularly those recovering from a stroke or head injury. Try contacting local nursing homes, schools or stroke groups to ask for work experience.

It's also possible to gain experience by working as an SLT assistant/support worker or bilingual co-worker under the guidance of a qualified SLT.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.

Employers

There are around 17,000 SLTs in the UK working in a range of settings (RCSLT). The majority of SLTs are employed by NHS trusts and work in hospitals (on wards, in intensive care units and in outpatient departments), schools, clinics, community health centres and day care centres. Some mainstream work may be managed by local authorities.

You may also be employed directly by:

  • nurseries and schools (mainstream and special)
  • child development centres
  • voluntary and charitable organisations
  • GP practices and community clinics
  • education and social services departments
  • prisons, secure units and young offenders' institutions
  • residential homes for the elderly or people with learning difficulties
  • higher education institutions (lecturing and research).

With experience, you can move into self-employment and set up in private practice.

Look for job vacancies at:

Specialist recruitment agencies such as Maxxima also handle vacancies.

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If you decide to work in independent practice, you can add your details to the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice's (ASLTIP) register of members, Find a speech therapist. This database allows you to showcase your skills to potential clients.

Professional development

Once qualified, your first year is spent under supervision as a newly qualified practitioner (NQP) working towards the RCSLT NQP Framework in order to become a full (Certified) member of the RCSLT. You will need to complete a set of NQP goals, which will support your learning and practice in your first year of practice.

You'll be responsible for your own professional development and must show that you're developing and keeping your professional knowledge up to date in order to remain on the HCPC register.

The RCSLT provides a range of courses and seminars in areas such as:

  • children with severe language difficulties
  • adult neurology
  • dysphagia (problems with swallowing)
  • clinical effectiveness.

Other continuing professional development (CPD) activities include observation of other therapists' practice, reflective practice, peer review of performance, case discussion and video analysis. You can also join a clinical specialist interest group and attend or take part in national conferences and clinical meetings. Full details of the range of activities and resources are available to RCSLT members.

If you're working as a freelance SLT you can join ASLTIP, which also runs events and conferences.

There are also opportunities to undertake a higher degree, such as a postgraduate certificate, diploma or Masters, or a PhD by research. Search for postgraduate courses in speech and language therapy.

Career prospects

First posts are often within the NHS and involve working from one of several locations, such as health centres, hospital clinics or special schools. In your first year of practice you'll have a general caseload and will normally work with both adults and children.

Many qualified SLTs choose to specialise in a particular disorder such as:

  • acquired conditions, for example stroke or brain injuries
  • cleft lip and palate
  • developmental language disorder
  • head, neck or throat cancer
  • hearing impairment
  • learning disabilities
  • mental health conditions
  • neurodegenerative disorders
  • stammering.

You can also specialise in a particular client group, although it's possible to move between groups.

Senior therapist positions exist in clinical specialisms, management, and research and teaching. A typical career path will often involve increased management responsibilities, which can include supervising students on placement and junior staff.

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As the head of a local speech and therapy language service, you'll have responsibility for managing budgets, strategy and staff. There are a small number of opportunities to move into strategic management positions across different therapies.

Self-employment is another option for experienced SLTs and support for therapists working in independent practice is provided by ASLTIP.

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FAQs

Is there a shortage of speech and language therapists? ›

There are simply not enough speech and language therapists either in the public or private sector to meet current demand.

What is the job description of a speech and language therapist? ›

Speech and language therapists provide life-changing treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking and swallowing. You'll help people who, for physical or psychological reasons, have problems speaking and communicating.

What skills and qualities do you need to be a speech and language therapist? ›

Key skills for speech therapists
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Organisational skills.
  • Communication skills.
  • Initiative.
  • Flexibility.
  • Adaptability.
  • Patience.
  • Teamworking skills.

How do I prepare for a speech and language therapist interview? ›

Possible Interview questions to be prepared for:

Tell us about your speech and language therapy experiences so far. What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are? What would you do if you were about to discharge a client after their 6 week treatment block and they complained to you and were not happy about it?

Is speech therapy in high demand? ›

The demand for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is rising, with projected job growth at 21% through 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet a shortage of SLPs has put the squeeze on schools and healthcare organizations.

Where do speech therapists make the most money? ›

Geographic profile for Speech-Language Pathologists:
StateEmployment (1)Annual mean wage (2)
California14,150$ 102,650
Texas13,370$ 82,940
New York13,150$ 98,850
Illinois7,710$ 82,590
1 more row

What is the role of responsibility? ›

Responsibilities refer to the tasks and duties of their particular role or job description. Employees are held accountable for completing several tasks in the workplace. The clearer their supervisor outlines the tasks, the better employees can achieve their team's goals and succeed in their roles at the company.

Is speech therapy a good career? ›

Though a career as a speech-language pathologist is a rewarding one, both in terms of pay and your ability to affect real change in the quality of life for your patients, breaking into the field will require an investment of time.

Is speech and language therapy a hard degree? ›

In many ways this course bridges the areas of science and art and people who see this as a worthwhile thing to do, should enjoy studying speech and language therapy. If you are a student that is only comfortable with learning things by rote (off by heart), then this is probably going to be a difficult course for you.

What makes a successful SLP? ›

SLPs should be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. They should also have strong reading, writing and cognitive abilities to help patients at all skill levels. SLPs need strong communication skills to: Interact with patients, their families and health care professionals.

Why do I want to be a speech and language therapist? ›

As a Speech & Language Therapy professional, you'll help people communicate better, removing barriers that stop them from engaging in society. A degree will give you the skills needed to make a positive impact in a setting such as education, the workplace or healthcare.

What qualifications do you need to be a speech and language therapist assistant? ›

There are no set entry requirements for speech and language therapy assistants. Employers expect good numeracy and literacy and some experience or qualifications in health or social care. Employers may ask for GCSEs in English and maths.

How do you introduce yourself as a speech therapist? ›

“Hi, my name is Bailee. I'm a speech pathologist and a part of the team here at this hospital. I'm here to work with you today and see how well you're able to talk and understand what people say to you.

What makes you a good candidate for an SLP program? ›

Your hard skills may include your strong writing skills, your computer skills, and your background working as an SLP assistant, while your soft skills may include your good listening skills, your ability to adapt easily to new situations, and your outgoing personality.

How do you answer tell me about yourself SLP? ›

Tell me about yourself

They want to ask an open-ended question, find out about your work history, and see if you can communicate in an organized, clear, logical manner. It's best to stick to a few main points: Why you entered your profession. Your work history and experience (settings, types of disorders)

Is being an SLP stressful? ›

We often have large caseloads, tons of speech and language skills to target, different grade levels to work with, and lots of behind-the-scenes tasks to tackle.

Are speech pathologists happy? ›

The majority of speech language pathologists find their personalities quite well suited to their work, with relatively few having complaints about their fit.

What is the highest salary of a Speech Pathologist? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $167,000 and as low as $35,000, the majority of Speech Pathologist salaries currently range between $66,000 (25th percentile) to $121,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $152,500 annually across the United States.

How many hours do Speech pathologists work a day? ›

Medical speech-language pathologists typically work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and rehabilitation facilities. They typically work 40 hours per week during normal business hours.

Do SLPs or nurses make more money? ›

Advanced practice nurses tend to earn more than speech-language pathologists, as indicated by BLS data.

How much does a speech therapist make a month? ›

An entry level speech pathologist (1-3 years of experience) earns an average salary of R268,054. On the other end, a senior level speech pathologist (8+ years of experience) earns an average salary of R465,649.

How do I write my own job description? ›

How to Effectively Write Your Own Job Description
  1. 1) Think About What You Want To Do. ...
  2. 2) Decide the Value of the New Role. ...
  3. 3) Give Your New Role a Name. ...
  4. 4) Map Out Your Credentials and Attributes. ...
  5. 5) Write a Concise Job Description. ...
  6. 6) Submit the Job to Your Manager. ...
  7. 7) Think About Who Will Take Over Your Current Duties.
5 Jan 2022

How do you describe your job description? ›

7 tips to describe your job duties
  • Remember what you listed on your resume. ...
  • Connect your past job duties those listed in the job description. ...
  • Don't be too granular in detail. ...
  • Pinpoint the skills you have that you'll use in your new role. ...
  • Be conversational. ...
  • Use “I” instead of “we” ...
  • Be specific about your accomplishments.

What are the disadvantages of being a speech therapist? ›

The 10 Biggest Challenges of Being a Speech Pathologist
  • High case loads. ...
  • Lack of materials. ...
  • People who are NOT SLPs providing “speech” services. ...
  • Bureaucracy in General. ...
  • Paperwork & Meetings. ...
  • Scheduling. ...
  • Plan and Implement Therapy for Diverse Groups. ...
  • Misunderstandings about Our Role.
3 Mar 2014

Why do I love being an SLP? ›

Working with Diverse Clients With Diverse Needs

In addition to having a variety of work settings to work in, being an SLP allows us to work with diverse clients across the different settings. No two clients, despite having the same “diagnosis” are ever the same.

Do SLP like their jobs? ›

We talked to a couple seasoned SLPs that aren't just tolerating their job or waiting for something better to come along— they love the work, and love the people they work with.

Is being a speech therapy worth it? ›

Thanks to the tireless work of SLPs, children and adults with a variety of speech, language, communication, and feeding/swallowing disorders are able to reach their potential and communicate with confidence and ease. So, is speech pathology a good career? For most, the answer is a resounding yes!

Can a teacher become a speech and language therapist? ›

To work as an SLT you need to have a recognised speech and language therapy degree or postgraduate qualification. Another possibility is to become a speech and language therapy assistant, working alongside an SLT, in the same way a teaching assistant works alongside a teacher.

Is speech and language therapy competitive? ›

Speech and Language therapy is a rewarding and fulfilling career and popular at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, therefore the application process can be competitive.

What personality type is speech therapist? ›

Speech language pathologists' most common personality types include ISFJ (introvert-sensing-feeling-judging) and ESFJ (extrovert- sensing-feeling-judging) (Macdaid, McCaulley & Kainz, 1995). ISFJs are commonly called “the defender” and are categorized as being warm, empathetic, and being good listeners.

Would I enjoy being a speech and language therapist? ›

Speech and language therapy is a fulfilling and varied career. It offers you a high degree of flexibility, excellent employment prospects and the chance to truly make a difference to someone's life. It's one of the most dynamic and rewarding roles within the health industry. No two days are the same.

How do you write a personal statement for a speech and language therapist? ›

Writing your personal statement

Evidence of wide and diverse reading to support the applicant's understanding of their choice, which goes beyond more that 'what an SLT does'. 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.

Who does SLT work with? ›

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) are allied health professionals. They work with parents, carers and other professionals, such as teachers, nurses, occupational therapists and doctors.

How much do speech therapists make? ›

Average €232,088 per year.

How can speech therapists make extra money? ›

There are LOTS of great ways to add additional income to your life.
...
Great Additional Income Streams for SLPs
  1. Private Practice. ...
  2. Speech Therapy-Related. ...
  3. Real Estate Investing. ...
  4. MLM Programs. ...
  5. Stock Market.
6 Jun 2019

WHAT A levels do you need for speech and language therapy? ›

BSc Speech and Language Therapy / Entry requirements
  • A-level. We typically require grades AAB. ...
  • AS-level. ...
  • Unit grade information. ...
  • GCSE. ...
  • International Baccalaureate. ...
  • English language. ...
  • English language test validity. ...
  • Relevant work experience.

How do you not stutter when introducing yourself? ›

Make Eye Contact. In my experience, making eye contact before speaking and during moments of stuttering grounds me. It helps me stay in that moment of stuttering. And it helps me feel more confident.

How do you introduce yourself as an adult? ›

How to introduce yourself in casual situations
  1. Morning! I don't think we've met before, I'm Aryan.
  2. Hey there! I'm Surya. I'm new—I just moved to the building a couple of days ago. ...
  3. Hi Amy. I heard it's your first day so I thought I could reach out and introduce myself.
8 Dec 2020

What questions should I ask my speech therapist? ›

Below are 10 questions to ask the SLP:
  • What will the main communication challenges be?
  • Have you worked with people who have this type of problem before?
  • Do you work as part of a team? ...
  • What are realistic goals for therapy, now and in the future?
  • How will therapy help reach those goals?
  • What can each of us do to help?

How do you answer what are your weaknesses in an interview? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

How do I prepare for a speech and language therapist interview? ›

Possible Interview questions to be prepared for:

Tell us about your speech and language therapy experiences so far. What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are? What would you do if you were about to discharge a client after their 6 week treatment block and they complained to you and were not happy about it?

What should I wear to speech pathologist interview? ›

So what do you wear? A collared shirt and black pants are always a classic pair and professional look if your in a pinch.

What questions do they ask during interview? ›

50+ most common job interview questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • How did you hear about this position?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you bring to the company?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
2 Sept 2022

What is the star method in interviewing? ›

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.

› online-ed › healthcare-degrees › job-i... ›

Are you preparing for a speech-language pathology job interview? Explore speech pathologist job interview tips and practice questions for SLPs.
Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in childre...
Learn about the field of speech-language pathology and the career of an speech-language pathologist.

How long is the waiting list for speech therapy on NHS? ›

Therapists will complete an assessment of the child's needs and provide tailored advice and strategies to their families and other caregivers to support their speech, language and communication development. This maybe face to face or virtually. Current waiting times: Initial appointment = 24-28 weeks.

How many speech therapists are there in the UK? ›

In 2021, there were approximately 21.4 thousand speech and language therapists in employment in the United Kingdom.
...
CharacteristicNumber of speech and language therapists in thousands
--
11 more rows
16 Dec 2021

How much do speech therapists make UK? ›

Jobs in Reed.co.uk, ranging from £47,886 to £51,553. Jobs that pay more than the average (£49,802).

How much is a speech therapy session in UK? ›

£79 per hour. £44 per half hour.

How long does speech and language therapy take? ›

Based on this information it could be assumed that if a disorder was mild to moderate, with the child attending treatment consistently and families practicing homework between sessions, duration of total treatment could be about four to five months.

Is speech therapy a good career? ›

Though a career as a speech-language pathologist is a rewarding one, both in terms of pay and your ability to affect real change in the quality of life for your patients, breaking into the field will require an investment of time.

Is speech and language therapy a good job? ›

It is an incredible profession to work in if you want to help others. As therapists we tend to know a lot more about our clients than other medical professionals. There are so many different areas you can go into and become specialised in. You get to work in multi-disciplinary teams – and learn across professions.

How can speech therapists make extra money? ›

There are LOTS of great ways to add additional income to your life.
...
Great Additional Income Streams for SLPs
  1. Private Practice. ...
  2. Speech Therapy-Related. ...
  3. Real Estate Investing. ...
  4. MLM Programs. ...
  5. Stock Market.
6 Jun 2019

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