Speech and language therapy training courses

How do I become a speech and language therapist?

NB: Professional titles vary from country to country, e.g. speech and language therapist (UK); speech-language pathologist (USA); logopedist (Italy).

If you wish to take up a speech and language therapy career you will need to assure yourself that you either have or can develop the personal skills required to be a speech and language therapist. The route to becoming professionally qualified will vary depending on which country you intend to study (and practice) in. Within the UK you will need to have completed one of several speech and language therapy training courses approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). They are typically either an undergraduate first degree or post-graduate conversion course. You can download a list of approved UK courses here.

In the USA, the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the preferred credential in all 50 states. To obtain the CCC-SLP certificate you must (minimally) hold a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). Further information can be found in Planning Your Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

You can search for approved courses in the USA using EdFind.

Online learning

While still not a major mode of learning in the UK, there are some online degree speech and language therapy courses available, particularly in the USA. Owing to the need to gain practical, hands-on clinical skills in working directly with people with communication and/or swallowing difficulties, it is not usually possible to gain a full professional qualification by this means. However, distance learning online is becoming more popular and you may be able to complete specific parts of a course curriculum online.

The curriculum

Speech and language therapy jobs are varied but every speech and language therapist must be able to assess and diagnose speech, language, stuttering, voice, communication, and (in some cases) swallowing difficulties in people of all ages. In addition, they must be able to provide appropriate therapeutic interventions to assist in preventing difficulties and in improving the effectiveness of an individual’s communication/swallowing. As such, they will typically have studied the following essential areas:

Where can I get more information?

You may also be able to get information about the speech and language therapy profession in your selected country by contacting the appropriate professional body.

Your local speech and language therapy service may also be able to assist with further information. Many arrange open days and organize group visits, or allow individuals considering studying speech and language therapy to observe some clinic sessions.

Finally, your local careers advisory service will have information about speech and language therapy careers and may have so-called skills audits that allow you to check whether you feel this is the right career for you and if you have the prerequisite personal skills.

Speech and language therapy continuing education

Speech and language therapy education does not stop once you are qualified. Most regulatory bodies require practitioners to engage in speech and language therapy continuing education (CPD). Indeed, it is a requirement of the Health Professions Council in the UK that registered speech and language therapists “maintain a continuous, up-to-date and accurate record of their CPD activities” (HCPC, 2018). The purpose of this is to ensure that the speech and language therapist has maintained and improved her or his practice and service delivery, and that these continue to benefit people with communication and/or swallowing difficulties who use their services. A speech and language therapist needs, therefore, to be committed to life-long learning.

References

HCPC (2018) Standards of Continuing Professional Development [WWW] http://www.hcpc.org.uk/aboutregistration/standards/cpd/index.asp Accessed 15 January 2018.