Speech therapists (a.k.a. speech and language therapists) work with patients across multiple age groups to facilitate the treatment of speech and language disorders, such as stammers, stutters, Tourettes and mutism.
Specialising in providing therapeutic services for a specific age group is common among speech therapists, allowing for the fine-tuning of skills and exploring new tools and techniques. For instance, you may choose to work with children or patients that are recovering from intense physical trauma.
The majority of speech therapists are employed by the NHS, but others may work for educational institutions, local government departments and specialist care facilities. Some speech therapists also choose to work in private practice.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be assessing patient histories and identifying the underlying causes for the speech defects that are affecting your patients, such as severe injuries, strokes or vocal blockages.
Following this assessment process, you’ll be responsible for devising effective therapy plans in association with other healthcare professionals, close family members and teachers.
Furthermore, you’ll be tracking patient progress, maintaining comprehensive treatment records, supervising the work of junior staff and carrying out advanced research relating to your particular area of specialism.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for entry-level speech therapists range between £21,000 and £28,000, while speech therapists with two or more years’ experience can earn around £26,000 to £35,000.
Senior speech therapists can even earn up to £55,000 a year.
The majority of speech therapists work 35–40 hours a week on a nine-to-five basis. You may have to work extra hours from time to time, but this is not a common occurrence.
Experienced speech therapists in private practice may travel across locations, particularly if they offer consultancy services to institutional clients.
The minimum entry requirement for speech therapists is a relevant degree accredited by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT). Before you can start practising, you will also need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HPC). Graduates from other disciplines must obtain an approved postgraduate qualification.
Training & progression
Once registered, a speech therapist’s training is predominantly provided ‘on-the-job’, under the supervision of a senior therapist with bags of experience. However, advanced courses are also offered by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) for professionals who wish to refine and develop their skills.
Career progression is largely dependent on your own personal interests, as many speech therapists eventually choose to specialise in a niche area of speech and language therapy. Other speech therapists move into managerial roles with more strategic responsibilities.
Freelance consulting is an attractive option, and a significant percentage of experienced speech therapists opt to take this route.