NHS Scotland Guide to Careers as a Speech and Language Therapist

Communication is vital to every aspect of our lives. Speech and Language Therapists work with people of all ages who have problems with communication or with chewing or swallowing. Their patients include children who need help with speech development, people with a speech defect, such as a stammer, and those who, because of accident or illness, have physical problems with eating. As a Speech and Language Therapist, you would be an autonomous professional, with your own caseload of patients, but you would also be part of a highly skilled multi-disciplinary team. You would assess each patient and plan a course of individual treatment.

Your patients’ difficulties might result from many problems, such as learning difficulties, stroke, hearing loss disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or cystic fibrosis, head injuries, cancer, cleft palate or a psychiatric problem. You might work with clients on a one-to-one basis or in groups, perhaps with a Physiotherapist or teacher. You might also be involved in educating teachers, care staff and parents.

The clinical knowledge and expertise required is considerable and you will need an aptitude for academic study as well as for problem solving. You must also be able to build good relationships with clients who might be severely impaired and distressed. An ability to work well with other professionals and with clients’ carers and family is also important.

Entry Requirements
For entry to a degree course in Speech and Language Therapy the usual requirement is five Highers BBBBB. Science and Language subjects are recommended plus Standard Grade English, Maths and Biology.

However, entry requirements vary between courses and alternative qualifications may be accepted – check prospectuses for details.

Training consists of a three- or four-year degree course accredited by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Graduates then receive the Certificate to Practise needed to work as a Speech and Language Therapist in the NHS. If you have an appropriate first degree, you can also qualify by taking a two-year postgraduate qualification.

The subjects studied include speech and language sciences, language pathology and therapeutics, behavioural sciences, bio-medical sciences, education, acoustics, psychology and sociology.

You will also work with clients on clinical placements, when you will be supervised by qualified staff.

Assistant posts are not yet a route to qualifying as an Allied Health Professional but further opportunities are being developed.

Career Prospects
Most newly qualified Speech and Language Therapists work with a general caseload for at least a year, usually both adults and children. You may then choose a particular group of clients or type of clinical work in which to specialise. Alternatively, you might want to move into research, teaching or management.

Scottish Universities offering Speech and Language Therapy Degrees
Queen Margaret University College
Strathclyde University

Further Information

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists