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Speech and Language Therapist Apprenticeship

Speech and Language Therapist Apprenticeship

Speech and language therapists treat patients of all ages with varying degrees of speech, language, and communication problems, as well as swallowing, drinking, or feeding difficulties.

You will treat, care for, and help babies, children, adults, and the elderly with a range of disorders such as cleft palate, stammering, language delay, voice abnormalities, and dysphagia as a speech and language therapist (SLT) (eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties).

You’ll typically collaborate with other health professionals in a multidisciplinary team and often consult with family, carers, or teachers when developing treatment plans. You might also become a private practitioner.

Responsibilities

Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:

  • talk to clients, observe them and use tests to assess specific difficulties
  • help a patient who has had a stroke to learn to speak again
  • support families to communicate with loved ones who have had a brain injury
  • plan and develop therapy programmes
  • help children and adults with eating difficulties to learn how to swallow
  • work with children with language delays or disorders
  • support clients through treatment
  • work closely with colleagues like doctors and teachers.

Salary

  • As a newly qualified SLT your starting salary is likely to be £27,055 (Band 5), rising up the pay scale to £32,934. Agenda for Change (AfC) pay rates
  • As a specialist SLT you can earn between £33,706 and £40,588 (Band 6).
  • Highly specialised SLTs range from £41,659 to £47,672 (Band 7).

Working hours

In the NHS, you will typically work 37.5 hours a week, which may include weekend work and on-call rotas to meet the needs of the service.

Working environment

You could work at a school, in an NHS or private hospital, at a health centre, in a nursery or at a client’s home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Qualifications

Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice speech and language therapist include:

  • Level 6 Speech and Language TherapistEntry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship. The qualification will take four years to complete.

If you already have a relevant degree, the apprenticeship might be shorter, and you could acquire a master’s degree as part of the programme.

If you are already working as a speech and language therapy assistant, you can apply for the degree apprenticeship via your existing employer. However, you must meet all their entrance standards to be considered for the apprenticeship.

Skills

On a speech and language therapist apprenticeship, you’ll learn:

  • knowledge of English language
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of psychology
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.

Employers

Around 20,000 SLTs work in various settings in the United Kingdom (RCSLT). NHS trusts engage SLTs to work in hospitals (on wards, critical care units, and outpatient departments), schools, clinics, community health centres, and daycare centres.

Professional development

You will spend your first year as a newly qualified practitioner (NQP) working towards the RCSLT NQP Framework to become a full (Certified) member of the RCSLT. Throughout your first year of practice, you must complete several NQP goals to aid your learning and training.

You will be accountable for your professional development and must show that you are expanding your professional knowledge to remain on the HCPC register.

Other CPD activities include monitoring other therapists’ practises, reflective practice, peer performance evaluation, case discussion, and video analysis. You may attend national conferences and clinical meetings by joining a clinical expert interest group. RCSLT members have access to a wide range of programmes and services.

If you work as a freelance SLT, you may also join ASLTIP, which organises events and conferences.

Following registration, further opportunities exist to pursue a higher degree, such as a postgraduate certificate, diploma, Masters, or a PhD via research.

Career prospects

First jobs are often inside the NHS and involve working from various locations, such as health centres, hospital clinics, or special schools. You will likely have a broad caseload dealing with adults and children in your first year of practice.

Opportunities for senior therapists exist in clinical specialisations, administration, research, and teaching. In addition, a typical professional route will often include extra management responsibilities, such as supervising students on placement and junior staff.

Self-employment is another option for experienced SLTs, and ASLTIP supports therapists who work independently.

Updated on December 27, 2022

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