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How to become a speech pathologist in Australia: careers in speech pathology

Speech pathologists assess and treat people with communication and swallowing impairments. They help address difficulties with language, speech, social communications, voice and fluency. They can work with either adults, children or families and can also assist people with speech and language difficulties because of developmental impairments or brain injuries. Entry to the speech pathology field is through a three year university undergraduate degree or a two year master’s degree.
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Being a speech pathologist: skills for success

Speech pathologists need excellent interpersonal skills as they work closely with people – including individuals, families, teachers and employers. They need communication and problem solving skills, as well as relevant training in speech pathology. Good observation skills and empathy are also needed, as well as excellent listening skills. Knowledge of speech and its place in the neurological and physiological system is also vital.
Skills/attributes
  • Active listening skills
  • Good speaking skills
  • Ability to solve complex problems
  • Scientific knowledge
  • Empathy and perceptiveness
  • Specialised roles within [industry]

    Speech pathologists can gain specialist knowledge through training in areas related to specific patient needs. This can include treating younger patients, oral motor therapy or areas like augmentative-alterative communications for people with natural speech difficulties.
    • Paediatric speech pathologist
      Paediatric speech pathologists specialise in treating children and babies, especially those who may have speech and swallowing impairments because of developmental difficulties. As children’s language and their language disorders are often different to those faced by adults, a paediatric speech pathologist needs certain advanced skills.
    • Specialist in fluency
      Specialists in fluency have advanced knowledge and expertise in fluency disorders. This includes stuttering, cluttering and other disruptions in the flow of speech. They may provide either remote or on-site support using a combination of online and written resources.
    • Swallowing specialist
      A swallowing specialist has expert knowledge and clinical experience in treating swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia. They understand the different stages of swallowing – the mouth, the throat and the oesophagus. They help people who experience difficulties in any of these stages and assist them to effectively receive nutrition.

    Educational pathways for speech pathologists

    The main pathway to becoming a speech pathologist is through an undergraduate university degree, followed by a master’s degree or by further study in a specialisation
    • Start your career
      Take the first steps towards your career in speech pathology by undertaking vocational education and training to become qualified.
    • Strengthen your skills
      Gain the skills and training you need to enter the field of speech pathology through an undergraduate study program.
    • Build your resume
      Continue your education and work towards your career goals by undertaking a postgraduate specialist qualification.
    • Industry requirements
      To become a practicing speech pathologist in Australia you need to complete a course accredited by Speech Pathology Australia (SPA).
    • Finding Work
      Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your speech pathology career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
    • Employment Prospects
      There has been steady growth in speech pathology roles in the past five years, however it is a relatively small occupation and opportunities in some areas may be limited.

    Resources for speech pathologists

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