Speech Pathologist

Speech pathologists may be called Speech Therapists or Speech-Language Pathologists. Speech Pathologists work in a range of organisations including schools, hospitals, rehabilitation services, community health services, mental health services and in private practice.

Speech Pathologists assess and provide therapy and management for people with communication disorders. Communication disorders may include physical problems affecting speech, eating and swallowing, language, voice, fluency and literacy difficulties. Speech pathologists or therapists are different from speech and drama teachers.

Speech Therapists may specialise to work with particular populations including people with disabilities, paediatrics (babies and children), adults and geriatrics. Tasks may include:

  • Providing assessment and therapy for children with conditions that affect communication such as cleft palate, delayed speech or language development, hearing loss, cerebral palsy
  • Providing assessment and therapy for adults whose voice, language or speech has been affected by disease, brain damage, surgery, hearing loss or nervous system disorders
  • Assessing and providing therapy for people with stutters
  • Providing advice and counselling to clients and families
  • Working in collaboration with other medical and allied health professionals, educators, clients and families

Linguistics provides an excellent background for the study of speech pathology, a practice which seeks to diagnose and treat verbal communication disorders along with swallowing and eating problems. To work as a Speech Pathologist in Australia a Speech Pathology Australia accredited specialist degree is usually required, however postgraduate options are also available. Masters level courses are available at a variety of universities to graduates who have completed a degree with a major in psychology, health sciences or linguistics. Entry into these courses is often competitive and while individual university requirements will vary, an honours year and strong academic history is usually necessary.

Once academic qualifications have been attained, graduates are eligible for registration with the sector's professional body and may find employment in the education, disability and community sectors as well as in private practice.