Would you like to empower others by helping them develop communication skills? Do you have excellent people skills and well developed written and verbal communication. Speech pathology may be the career for you.
Speech pathologists work in a range of health and educational settings including:
- outpatient clinics
- community health settings
- private practice
Most speech pathologists specialize in working either with adults or children. In the adult field they may work with people who have had strokes, head injuries, dementia, neurological disorders and other disabilities to help them communicate more effectively and eat and swallow more safely. This may be in a hospital setting, outpatient clinic, nursing home or in the client’s home.
Paediatric speech pathologists work alongside parents, carers and teachers to help children with disabilities, learning difficulties and developmental delays to develop speech, language and literacy skills. Some may specialize in a particular group of clients such as those with autism or with a physical disability.
Some speech pathologists focus on a particular area such as voice disorders, stuttering or eating and swallowing. Speech pathologists often work with reading and writing skills (as these are also forms of communication), with either children or adults.
As a speech pathologist, you will work in a multidisciplinary team alongside other health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists.
In medical settings this may also include doctors, nurses and therapy assistants.
In an educational setting, you may work alongside teachers, child care workers and student support officers.
Professionals, carers and the family work together to support the client in the best way possible so your ability to communicate well and work in a team is vital.
Private practice is a growing area of employment for speech pathologists. As a qualified speech pathologist you may choose to work for an established practice or with experience you may choose to develop your own independent practice.
Speech pathologists are required to be eligible for membership with Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) in order to practice. SPA provides guidance on ethics as well as ongoing professional development to speech pathologists across Australia. They also represent the needs of the profession to the government and the public as well as advocate for the needs of people with communication difficulties. You can visit the website to find out more about the role of a speech pathologist.
There are certificate level courses and degree level courses in speech pathology available in most states in Australia and some states also offer a masters level course for those that have a related degree. Entry to these courses is very competitive.
If you are looking for a varied and fascinating career, where you can contribute to the well-being of others, speech pathology may be for you.