It is completely normal to not know what you want to be when you grow up! This is especially true when you are a student. There are so many different careers out there. However, you may not even have heard of lots of them because of the huge variety. Speech and language therapy is not a very well-known career path. However, it is a job well respected and a great career choice. As with all jobs, specific qualifications are needed, in order to pursue this career.
Before you even think about speech and language therapy, you will need to make sure that you have the correct entry grades. In this case, you’ll need four or five GCSEs at grades 4-9, including maths and English. You will then need three A-Levels with subjects relevant to the career. Finally, you will need to achieve a degree in speech and language therapy. This could then even lead to a postgraduate degree in the field.
It can be confusing to understand all the qualifications needed for this career, so keep reading for a better understanding of the path to becoming a speech therapist.
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How do you become a speech and language therapist?
As already stated, it is vital that you have at least four or five GCSEs at grades 4 and above. These must include maths and English, as these are essential subjects in order to be accepted into further education. More information about these qualifications can be found on the government website if you click here.
You can then go on to complete your A-Levels. These are essential in order to be accepted into a university or degree apprenticeship. Normally, students take three A-Levels although some even take four! Thankfully, taking four A-Levels is not essential for becoming a speech and language therapist.
Most speech and language therapy courses prefer at least one science A-Level, although it’s not essential. This means you may need to take biology, physics, or chemistry as one of your A-Levels. Other good A-Levels for this career include psychology, maths and any languages. This includes English language or literature.
More information about these qualifications can be found on the Complete University Website if you click here.
Finally, if you get the right grades, you can apply to university or a degree apprenticeship. The grades you need differ between universities, so it is best to have a look at individual university websites. Regardless, you need to make sure you get the best grades possible. Check out this Think Student article to discover why.
You either need to achieve an undergraduate degree or complete a degree apprenticeship in speech and language therapy. This is essential in order to practice speech therapy. Once you have finished the first degree, you can even do a postgraduate! Note that this is not a requirement. Check out the RCSLT website to find out more information about this.
What is a speech and language therapist?
Speech and language therapists are very important health professionals who care for both adults and children. They support and care for patients who have difficulty speaking and swallowing. They work as a team with other health professionals.
Therefore, good teamwork is an essential skill in order to become a speech and language therapist. Check out these videos on the RCSLT website to discover what else speech and language therapists do.
You may think that speech and language therapists just help patients to speak, eat and drink. However, they treat a wide range of patients with all types of disorders. For example, they can help children with autism or adults with dementia. They can even care for patients who have throat cancer.
To see the full list of disorders speech and language therapists help with, click this link and visit the RCSLT website on a page specific to the disorders. Speech and language therapists therefore work in a range of different settings. For example, hospitals, children’s centres and even court rooms and prisons!
Can you do a speech and language therapy degree?
Having a degree in speech and language therapy is essential in order to pursue the profession. You need to be dedicated in order to get any degree, as all subjects require an immense amount of work. However, a degree in your chosen field can unlock many doors for your future. Speech and language therapy is no different.
Check out this article on Think Student to find out what a university degree is. A number of universities offer a bachelor’s degree in the speech and language field. There are nineteen universities in total who do this. Click here to view an interactive map of these universities on the RCSLT website.
Applying for an undergraduate degree can be confusing because different universities have different names for the courses! For example, you could do a course in audiology. This is a major sub-topic of speech and language therapy.
If you wish, you can opt to continue your education by taking a postgraduate degree in speech and language therapy. Click this link to discover more information about this on the Complete University Guide website.
Bachelor’s degrees usually last three or four years but this depends on the university. Postgraduate degrees normally last about two years. However, if you wanted to, you could do an integrated master’s degree instead.
This lasts four years and leaves you more qualified than just a bachelor’s degree. More information about this can be found on the Find a Master’s website if you click here. Always make sure your speech and language therapy degree is approved by the Health and Care Professionals’ Council and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy before you apply.
Which universities offer the best speech therapy degrees?
For 2023, every university offering a speech and language therapy course was ranked by their quality. The rankings are shown here:
- University College London
- Newcastle University
- University of Strathclyde
- University of Manchester
- University of Reading
The rest of the university rankings can be found on the Complete University Guide website if you click here.
Certain universities are seen as the best in the UK overall, such as Oxford and Cambridge. However, you need to be aware that not all courses are of the same quality. The universities shown above are the best specifically for speech and language therapy. It’s important to check the course ranking as well as the overall university ranking when applying for any degree.
Can you do a speech and language degree apprenticeship?
A degree apprenticeship is a mix of university study and paid apprenticeship work. It involves learning on the job. Check out this article on Think Student for a full explanation of what a degree apprenticeship is.
Only three universities in the UK offer speech and language therapy degree apprenticeships. These are the University of Essex, the University of Sheffield and Birmingham City University. Click here to find out more information about degree apprenticeships on the RCSLT website.
In order to apply to one of these universities for a degree apprenticeship, you must find a suitable employer. They must have a vacancy for a speech and language therapy apprentice. You cannot apply for university without the employer as they must send the application for you.
Degree apprenticeships are fantastic opportunities because they allow you to achieve a degree for free, whilst earning an income. University is extremely expensive. Check out this Think Student article to find out why.
Therefore, degree apprenticeships can be a great option! However, it is extremely hard work because you must both work and study at the same time. At least 20% of your time during the working week should be spent studying. A degree apprenticeship can last up to four years. Click this link to find out more on the RCSLT website.
It is quite difficult to get a place on a degree apprenticeship course. This is because it is very competitive. They are mainly offered to current NHS workers because they already have the NHS values. Getting a medically-oriented degree apprenticeship place straight after A-Levels can be tricky.
What type of work experience is relevant to speech therapy?
With the way a speech and language therapist’s day is structured, it is very difficult to get the opportunity to shadow one. You often need some qualifications in speech and language therapy to do this and every patient has a right to privacy with their doctor.
However, don’t worry! There are other opportunities you can take in order to stand out. Volunteering is a great idea. This can be in a charity shop, for example, or a care home. It helps to show that you can interact well with people. Therefore, any job which involves talking to others is a great piece of work experience.
You can discover more on the Speakmore website, by clicking this link.