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Speech and language therapists

Speech and language therapist icon with red stethoscope and text Speech and language therapists

 

The role of speech and language therapist (SLT) involves working with people – from babies to children, teenagers and adults – who have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking or swallowing.

SLTs also work in many specialist areas, such as supporting people who stammer or have voice disorders, hearing impairments or neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s disease).

In the case of a stroke patient like Mr Zemlinksy, the SLT might be involved in assessing his swallow function to make sure he is able to eat and drink safely. This is very important as in stroke there is a danger that food and drink might go down into the patient’s lungs, which could be fatal.

The SLT would also assess the patient’s ability to understand and use spoken language, as these skills can be affected by a stroke. For example, he may not understand spoken language, or might not make any sense when he is talking. The SLT would work with him and his family to support and improve his communication skills and may offer a programme of therapy if necessary.

For me the most rewarding thing is helping others to communicate to the best of their ability so they can enjoy life as much as possible. Every therapy session is different: there's never a dull moment!'

Katie Williams, Speech and Language Therapist

Qualifications

You’ll need to complete a degree in speech and language therapy in order to become a licenced practitioner and register with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degree courses are offered at a variety of universities in the UK, although the exact name of the degree differs from one institution to another. You can find a list of these degree courses on the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists website.

The entry requirements for these courses also varies, but some require specific GCSEs and A-levels, such as English and biology. Check the specific entry requirements with each university for more information.

As well as qualifications, it’s important for SLTs to have excellent listening and communication skills, enthusiasm, creativity and team-working skills. It’s also important to be flexible and patient, as well as having good problem-solving skills.

Career opportunities

Speech and language therapists are able to work in a great variety of sectors and can specialise in many different areas. Some specialist areas include:

  • pre-school speech and language
  • voice disorders
  • hospital or community-based adult work
  • stammering
  • people with learning difficulties
  • working within mental health services
  • working in prisons.

Some SLTs move into the area of research and set up studies to design and test different therapy approaches. Others manage teams of other SLTs , or work in training others. Many SLTs work within the NHS, while others work in social enterprises, for charities or in independent practice.

Top tip

Try contacting your local speech and language therapy service and see if there are opportunities for work-shadowing or volunteering to help you decide if this career might be right for you.

Look at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists website, where you’ll find links to other useful websites as well as further information about what SLTs do and how to become one.

Find out more

 


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Next steps

View a prospectus

Learn more about the degree programmes on offer at King's.

Undergraduate prospectus

Postgraduate guide