How to become a Speech Pathologist

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 for 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. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


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.

Duties & Tasks of a Speech Pathologist

Speech pathologists:

  • 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.

Tasks

  • Advises on treatment for children with difficulties in learning to speak..
  • Administers individual and group therapy for rehabilitation of patients with communication problems caused by defective hearing, cerebral palsy, surgery and injury..
  • Administers tests and observes patients to determine nature and extent of disorders..
  • Plans and conducts programs of remedial exercises to correct disorders such as stuttering and abnormal articulation..
  • Counsels and guides language-handicapped individuals, their families, teachers and employers..

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.


Specializations

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.

  • Average age
    Average age
    34 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Very strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    97% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    41 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,827
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    56% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    7,300 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.3%
    NSW: 30.1%
    NT: 0.5%
    QLD: 20.4%
    SA: 8.1%
    TAS: 2.0%
    VIC: 26.7%
    WA: 10.9%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0%
    20-24: 10.9%
    25-34: 41.1%
    35-44: 25.4%
    45-54: 14.4%
    55-59: 4.8%
    60-64: 2.4%
    65 and Over: 1%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 0.3%
    Bachelor degree: 71.8%
    Certificate III/IV: 0%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 27.2%
    Year 10 and below: 0%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 0.6%
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