How to become a Speech Pathologist

Speech pathologists diagnose, treat and provide management services to people of all ages with communication disorders, including speech, language, voice, fluency, social communication and literacy difficulties. They also work with people who have problems with chewing or swallowing.

Personal requirements of a Speech Pathologist

  • Good listening and interpersonal skills
  • Enjoy language and communication
  • Able to inspire confidence and cooperation
  • Enjoy working with people
  • A patient and tactful approach to people’s problems
  • Able to deal with complex and unusual situations

Education & Training for a Speech Pathologist

To become a speech pathologist you usually have to complete a degree in speech pathology at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in speech pathology. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Speech Pathologist

Speech pathologists may perform the following tasks:

  • establish the exact nature and severity of each client’s communication and/or swallowing problems, which may require the use of special equipment and tests
  • plan and carry out treatment and management, taking into account age, social, educational and workplace needs, and physical and intellectual abilities
  • prescribe electronic and non-electronic alternatives, and communication aids and devices
  • work with children who are unable to communicate effectively due to intellectual disability, developmental delays, physical disability and/or learning difficulties
  • treat adults whose language, speech or voice has been affected by surgery, disease or disorders of the nervous system, brain injury, dementia or hearing loss
  • help children and adults to overcome stuttering
  • assess and treat children and adults who have difficulty chewing and/or swallowing
  • act as a consultant to education, medical, dental and other health professionals
  • provide ongoing support, advice and information to clients, families and other significant persons (such as friends, carers and educators) in order to support successful communication interactions and safe and effective mealtimes.

Working conditions for a Speech Pathologist

Speech pathologists work closely with other health professionals as part of a team.

Employment Opportunities for a Speech Pathologist

Speech pathologists work in public hospitals, rehabilitation centres, community and mental health services, schools, kindergartens and specialist organisations providing services for people with disability. Speech pathologists may also work in private practice. Some are engaged in teaching and research.

Additional Information
Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. Graduates are eligible for membership of Speech Pathology Australia. Most employers require applicants for speech pathology positions to demonstrate that they are eligible for current practising membership. For some employers, this is a mandatory requirement.
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