What does a speech pathologist do?

Tasks:

  • Treat children and adults with difficulties in speech learning
  • Conduct therapy to correct stuttering and abnormal articulation
  • Counsel people with language difficulties
  • Plan rehabilitation programs for patients

What skills do I need to be a speech pathologist?

A speech pathologist requires excellent people skills as they work closely with individuals, families, teachers, and often, employers. They also require communication skills, an ability to solve complex problems, and relevant training. Perceptiveness and empathy is also key, as issues with speech may cause sensitivity or insecurity in clients. With much of our day-to-day lives depend on effective, spoken communication, speech pathologists play a vital role in helping those with difficulties. To correctly diagnose, test, and treat speech difficulties, a speech pathologist needs excellent skills in listening and a strong knowledge of speech and the neurological and physiological system responsible for it.
Skills/attributes
  • Active listening skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Complex problem solving skills
  • Scientific skills and knowledge
  • Perceptiveness and empathy

Specialisations

Speech pathologists can train to gain specialist knowledge in areas that may be related to individual patient needs. These may include specialisations in the treatment of younger patients, oral motor therapy, or experience in areas such as augmentative-alterative communications for those with major difficulties in natural speech.

Paediatric speech pathologist

This speech pathologist specialises in the treatment of children and babies – especially those who may suffer speech and swallowing impediments due to developmental difficulties. Because children’s language and child language disorders are often different to those faced by adults, this specialisation requires certain advanced skills.

Specialist in fluency

These individuals have a high knowledge and clinical expertise in working with fluency disorders. Stuttering, cluttering, or any other disruption in the flow of speech is treated by a fluency specialist. They can often provide remote or on-site support using a combination of online resources and written resources.

Swallowing specialist

Speech pathologists has clinical experience and specialised knowledge in the treatment of swallowing disorders – also called dysphagia. They have specialist knowledge of the different stages of swallowing; the mouth, the throat, and the oesophagus. They can assist individuals who have difficulty in any or all of these stages and ensure patients are able to effectively receive nutrition.

Study pathways for speech pathologists

The main pathway for this career is a university degree that is usually followed by a master’s degree or further study in a specialisation.

Getting Started

Take the first steps by undertaking vocational education and training to become a qualified speech pathology assistant or aide.

Skill Building

An undergraduate study program will allow you to gain the skills and training you need to enter the field of professional speech pathology.

Professional Development

Explore more options for continuing your education and working towards your professional goals with a postgraduate specialist qualification.

Industry Recognition

In order to become a practising speech pathologist in Australia, you must complete a course that is accredited by Speech Pathology Australia (SPA).

Getting a job after graduation

Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your speech pathology career. Take a look at our sample resume and cover letter and put your best foot forward when you apply for speech pathology jobs.

Job Prospects and Salaries

Employment in speech pathology has grown steadily over the past five years, but as a relatively small occupation, the opportunities may be quite limited in some areas.