How to Become a Speech Therapist

Speech Therapist

Speech therapists help patients who have problems with speaking. They may also deal with clients who have issues with communication, language, and eating. They will assess their patients and use a range of methods to help them improve.

Speech and language therapists treat people who have speech, language and communication difficulties. They may also treat patients who have problems with swallowing, drinking, and eating. 

The reasons for speech difficulties are diverse, and while a speech and language therapist may specialise in a particular condition, others may see a range of patients. 

The duties of a speech therapist include: 

  • Communicating with clients, including observing their behaviour and testing specific difficulties relating to speech. 
  • Creating therapy programmes for them and administering these. 
  • Monitoring clients for improvements and setbacks.
  • Communicating with doctors and teachers. 
  • Advising parents and carers on how best to continue the therapy from home. 
  • Recording appointments.

To become a speech and language therapist, most candidates have a degree. Speech and language therapy is a focused programme that concentrates on the skills needed for this career. However, if a candidate already has a degree in a science or language-based discipline, they may be able to complete a two-year postgraduate qualification. Both qualifications will be a mix of vocational and theoretical learning. 

There may also be the opportunity for candidates to enter the field with no degree. They will begin as an assistant practitioner, train on the job and take a qualification while earning. To be applicable for these roles, candidates should have a portfolio of work experience related to speech and language therapy. 

Work experience is highly beneficial to all candidates – graduates and non-graduates – as it helps them get an idea of the practice of speech and language therapy and will strengthen their application for university programmes and jobs. 

Candidates should demonstrate various skills to become a speech therapist. As they will be working with clients with difficulties, they should be sensitive and empathetic, and be able to communicate with them well. They must also exhibit patience, as clients may find it challenging to meet their requests. 

Speech therapists also need to design programmes to help with speech impairments, so should have some experience with both this and general teaching. 

Speech therapists work at health centres, nurseries, schools, hospitals, or they may be mobile, travelling to clients’ homes. If speech therapists work on a mobile basis, they may need a full driving license. Their working hours may include evenings and weekends if necessary. 

Some speech therapists will progress into a specialism. This specialism could be helping children with special educational needs or assisting patients with eating, drinking, or swallowing disorders. Some speech therapists move into teaching and research.

What degree is most commonly held by a Speech Therapist ?

  • Bachelor of Speech Therapy
  • Bachelor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
  • Bachelors of Communication Sciences and Disordered Speaking
  • Bachelor of Speech and Language Therapy

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Low
As speech is so unique to each country, a speech therapist may find it challenging to find work abroad. A native of one country would find it challenging to help someone who has a different accent, and the training and protocols for speech therapy can vary broadly across countries. Therefore, it is only really feasible for a speech therapist to work in their native country.  

What is the Salary of a Speech Therapist ?

Experience Average salary | year
Speech Therapist 1-3 yrs $50,987 £18,986 $42,887
Speech Therapist 3-5 yrs $80,300 £47,976 $82,316
Speech Therapist 5-10 yrs $100,287 £94,103 $94,986

What skills are needed to become a Speech Therapist ?

  • Healthcare
  • Pathology
  • Clinical Research
  • Research
  • Speech Therapy
  • Medicine
  • Hospitals
  • Cancer
  • Public Speaking
  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Microsoft Office
  • Customer Service
  • Medical Education
  • Speech
  • Teaching
  • Life Sciences
  • Molecular Biology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Language Disorders
  • Healthcare Management
  • Early Intervention
  • Dysphagia
  • Pediatrics
  • Leadership

Speech Therapist

Candidates studying speech and language therapy may find it useful to take some extra courses, and proof of taking these would strengthen their application to jobs. At FutureLearn, we have plenty of courses that are beneficial to prospective speech therapists.

  • English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development

    Discover how very young children learn English as an additional language and how you can help them progress

  • Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching

    An introduction to some key concepts in the effective teaching and learning of languages

  • Teaching Languages in Primary Schools: Putting Research into Practice

    Discover engaging age-appropriate teaching methods and ideas to enhance your foreign languages teaching skills for children

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

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