Ask any speech and language therapist and they will tell you that theirs is a career that is rich and rewarding. They will also say that it is not without its fair share of challenges.
Assessing and treating patients of all ages with specific speech, language and communication problems is all part of a day’s work for speech and language therapists. So how do you become a speech and language therapist, what training is required and what skills do you need?
How to become a speech and language therapist
Becoming a speech and language therapist takes a lot of dedication. Caren Lewis is a fully qualified speech and language therapist and has been practicing since 2002. Following graduation, she enjoyed an exciting career working within the NHS. During this time she worked for three trusts, the most recent of which she served for well over a decade.
Caren reveals more about how she became a speech and language therapist, including what attracted her to the profession and how she found the training involved.
What made you want to become a speech and language therapist?
“I like working with children, but I didn’t want to be a teacher. I like helping people on the therapy side of things, and I guess it just felt like an interesting role. The more I investigated and found out about speech and language therapy, the more interesting the role became.”
What training did you have to do to become a speech and language therapist?
“I found there were two ways to become a speech and language therapist. You can either do an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. I did a postgraduate degree.
I’d done my undergraduate in sociology and anthropology; to some extent unrelated, but with anthropology being the study of culture and sociology being how people work in society, it seemed to make sense. I like understanding how people work. It was relevant for my job because understanding and meeting people from different cultures is always very useful, though not directly related.
Once I’d done that, I applied to City, University [of London] and did their two-year postgraduate course in Speech and Language Therapy. This packs your four years of undergraduate training into two years, so it’s really intense.
The course started in August. Everyone else was going back to university in September. We had to do a month of pre-learning and the hours were ridiculous. I’d do nine ‘til six to fit everything in because I was doing neurology, linguistics and phonology. All of the sound work was like another language.
I did two years postgraduate to get the qualification. That provides you with the accreditation and allows you to apply to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy. Then you do your first year as a newly qualified therapist and have your competencies signed off by another, more experienced colleague. You progress upwards from there.”
How did you find your speech and language therapist training?
“It was challenging but interesting. It could also be frustrating at times, especially when you are listening to sounds that aren’t in English and learning how to transcribe them. In some African languages, there are all sorts of different click sounds, for example. When you click your tongue there is actually a way to write that down. Who knew?
I learned things I’ve never used since but you have to cover everything in order to pass. It was complicated and frustrating, but also interesting and enjoyable. I had a really good laugh with my colleagues. I’m still friends with some of the other girls on the course, so it was really good.”
Find out more
If you would like to learn more about becoming a locum speech and language therapist with Medacs Healthcare, or if you’re keen to discover the wide range of locum SLT jobs we offer, browse our latest jobs or call 01785 256 605 during office hours.