Speech and language therapists (SLTs or sometimes SALTS) work with patients to improve their language and communication, assessing and treating speech in people of all ages.
SLTs assist both children and adults who have a difficulty in producing and using speech, understanding and using language, stammering, voice problems and difficulty with feeding, chewing or swallowing.
Working closely with teachers, doctors, nurses, psychologists and other health professionals they also help with patients whose speech or language problems have been caused by diseases or disabilities.
SLTs can be found in hospitals, community care roles, health centres, schools, day centres and assessment units depending on their skills or career path. This will often depend whether you would like to specialise in a certain patient demographic or type of clinical work - alternatively you may prefer to move into a research, teaching or management position.
As a newly qualified SLT you will usually work with a general caseload for at least a year, which will allow you to interact with a wide range of people and treat a variety of conditions and problems.
After completing a pre-registration programme in speech and language therapy you must register with the Health and Care Professions Council before applying for jobs through recruiters or trust websites.
According to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, there are a number of activities which are integral to developing your career within this exciting and diverse industry. These include taking an advanced clinical studies course, which will equip you with specialist skills and knowledge - setting you up for a post with very specific responsibilities. This could be working with infants or people with severe learning difficulties.
Other ways to bolster your CV and SLT skills are to take an approved short course or to get involved with specific interest group meetings, seminars, conferences and workshops.
There are many opportunities to further your SLT career, including management, taking on a specialism and conducting research.
Specific management programmes exist in many healthcare settings and often last around a year - these are suited to those who have demonstrated the potential to become involved with strategy, budget and management of employees.
With so many courses and opportunities to gain experience and locum work SLTs can move onto a range of clinical specialisms including acquired neurological disorders, linguistics, oncology, counselling, deafness and hearing impairment, specific learning disabilities and working with school-aged children.
To learn more about these different areas you can contact the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists which has a number of special interest groups which conduct research and help support the work of SLTs.
Alternatively you could move into more of a research role by initiating or participating in a new project. This allows you to gain clinical and non-clinical research skills and can equip you with training in social research methods and statistics. Those in research roles can take these back into their SLP career, continue to work in research or move into teaching by undertaking a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Teaching.
Plus, of course, working as a locum speech and language therapist can give you exposure to a wider range of environments, cultures and practices.
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