Considering a Career in Speech & Language Therapy?
Gaining work experience prior to applying to study Speech & Language Therapy (SLT)
Part of the pre-requisites for entry onto a SLT course is have considerable knowledge about what a speech & language therapist actually does and what skills & attributes are required. Gaining work experience with a speech & language therapist is one way of doing this. However, this might not always be possible for a number of reasons. So how can you gain experience and find out what SLT is really all about?
Draw on the experiences and skills you already have:
Direct observation of an SLT is not a pre-requisite as the universities are aware of time constraints faced by SLTs. However, showing an awareness of what the job entails and the skills required is vital. You must be able to demonstrate in your UCAS application and university interview that you have the basic pre-requisite skills required for the role, such having good inter-personal skills, being interested in people, having an ability to listen and to problem solve.
Unsure what skills are required?
A really useful book, ‘A career in Speech & Language Therapy’ by Janet Wright & Myra Kersner, describes in detail the personality traits & skills required to do the job. Once you have an idea of what is required, make a list of the skills and knowledge you have and another list of areas that need further development. This informative book contains worksheets to help with this process.
How can you do this?
There are many activities you can do to get started:
Draw upon your own experience:
Think about skills you use at school, when working, volunteering, undertaking hobbies and any other activities. Think again about what you know and can do, draw a mind-map of what you currently do and what skills are required to do that hobby, task or job. You might be surprised at how many skills you already have!
Develop you skills
A job or volunteering work experience working with others including working in a shop or café, volunteering or working in a nursing home, a library or a children’s group provide opportunities to communication with a diversity of people, even if they do not have a communication difficulty.
Learn more about the role of a SLT
There is plenty of information available on the internet:
- The Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT) website is excellent. As well as the links below look at the ‘Giving Voice’ information on the site.
- Another interesting website is:
Watch YouTube clips of speech and language therapy in action. These can be very informative and inspiring:
Contact the local SLT department:
Even if they are unable to offer direct work experience, they might have a student or newly qualified graduate who would willingly chat to you about the course.
University open days:
Attend the SLT talks and visit the SLT stands to chat to the lecturers, even for universities you might not initially consider – keep an open mind; you will learn something new on each visit as each university has a different approach.
For a list of universities that offer pre and post-graduate training visit the RCSLT website:
Access related websites:
All charities have superb websites where you will find a plethora of information. Here are some associated charities:
MNDA, Parkinson’s, Afasic, Stroke Association, Autism UK, Cerebra, cerebral palsy.org.uk, Mencap, Alzheimer’s Society – but there are a lot more. These all have information about the types of patients SLT see and provide background around the types of communication and swallowing problems such people might experience.
There are lots of books, plays, novels and biographies around describing personal insights into communication difficulties. For example, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ by Jean-Dominique Bauby, who chronicles life after a severe stroke left him only able to communicate through blinking an eye.