A Speech Pathologist, also called a Speech Therapist, is someone who works with people who have difficulties communicating. They’re able to diagnose and treat patients with communication disorders.
This is a good career choice for people who are patient, understanding and want to help others. Speech Pathologists work with a variety of different people, from young children to adults, who are all dealing with a range of communication disorders. This can be a highly rewarding career choice for the right person, though it’s suited to people who are naturally positive and determined to help patients get the best possible results, even if takes time.
Read on to discover how you can become a Speech Pathologist in Australia.
How does a Speech Pathologist help people?
Not being able to communicate with others or not being understood can be isolating and frustrating for many people living with a communication disorder. After all, humans are social creatures, and everyone has the right to be listened to and heard.
Speech Pathologists work with people who are living with communication disorders and help them to overcome their individual challenges by determining a way of communicating that works for their patients and fits their needs.
Speech Pathologists work with both children and adults.
Speech Pathologists help people who have a wide variety of different issues they need support with:
- Speech impediments
- Social skills
A day in the life of a Speech Pathologist
A Speech Pathologist’s day will offer variety and challenges in equal measure, as you’ll be dealing with different patients with different levels of communication disorders.
Here are some of the responsibilities of a Speech Pathologist:
- Working with adults who are dealing with communication difficulties due to injury, surgery or disease.
- Working with children who are having trouble communicating due to disability, developmental delays or learning difficulties.
- Helping patients who are having trouble swallowing and eating and drinking.
- Overseeing tests and observing patients to determine the nature of their disorder.
- Taking patients through different exercises and techniques to help them overcome their communication problems.
- Demonstrating the use of specialist devices for patients who can’t communicate verbally.
- Providing support and advice to the caregivers of children who have communication problems.
Why do people seek out a Speech Pathologist?
Did you know that there are a number of different speech and language disorders that can be treated with speech therapy?
Sometimes, people may be born with a disorder that affects their communication. Other times, it could occur as a result of an injury.
Either way, a Speech Pathologist’s job is to help their patients find ways they can improve their communication so they can be understood by others.
Here are some of the different types of disorders Speech Pathologists work with:
- Fluency disorders: Stuttering fits into this category. Fluency disorders affect the speed and flow of speech.
- Cognitive-communication disorders: If someone has suffered from a brain injury then they may have trouble communicating. Alternatively, someone could be living with a cognitive-communication disorder since birth due to abnormal brain development or they could be living with a neurological condition that affects communication.
- Articulation disorders: Articulation disorders affect the way a person is able to pronounce certain words or sounds. Having a lisp is considered a type of articulation disorder.
- Expressive disorders: An expressive disorder is when a person has trouble conveying information. This could be affected by a developmental disorder, like Down syndrome.
- Receptive disorders: Someone who has difficulty understanding others and processing what others say may have a receptive disorder. A receptive disorder can occur if someone is living with autism or a hearing issue.
- Resonance disorders: If there’s a blockage that’s disrupting regular airflow in the nose, mouth or throat then this can sometimes alter the quality of a person’s voice. A cleft palate is a cause of a resonance disorder.
A Speech Pathologist may use a number of different techniques to help a person with their communication. Sometimes, when the patient is a young child, the Speech Pathologist will also involve and communicate with the child’s parent/guardian.
A Speech Pathologist may use the following techniques and exercises to help their patients:
- Breathing exercises.
- Activities involving singing.
- Exercises that focus on strengthening oral muscles.
- Demonstrating and modelling the correct sounds and syllables.
- Providing activities and techniques the patient can continue at home.
- Helping to understand body language.
What skills do I need to be a Speech Pathologist?
Speech Pathologists work with a diverse range of people, both children and adults, who need help communicating.
One of the most important skills you can have as a Speech Pathologist is interpersonal skills. They work very closely with their clients, most often one-on-one, so developing strong relationships that are built on trust and respect is important.
You must also be very patient. For some clients, it will take longer than others to see results. And for this reason, you as the Speech Pathologist need to be patient and also encourage your clients to stick it out. Remember, for many people not having the ability to communicate can be incredibly frustrating. You need to encourage patience and confidence in your patients while also remaining positive and patient yourself.
In the same vein, working with clients who are frustrated with their condition can sometimes be demanding. That’s why Speech Pathologists also need to be compassionate and empathetic. This also goes for interacting with the patients family or caregivers.
If you want to become a Speech Pathologist, you should also have an interest in speech, language and communication to really be able to dive into this field and help others who are struggling with communicating.
Is a career in Speech Pathologist a good choice?
If you see yourself as a positive, patient person who’s interested in communication and helping others, then a Speech Pathologist career could be right for you.
Between 2014-19, the amount of people working as Speech Pathologists or Audiologists increased 39% from 6,600 to 9,200. By 2024, it’s predicted to reach 11,400 workers. So while this is still a relatively small sector, it is growing rapidly and there are opportunities for trained professionals.
A Speech Pathologist’s salary is around $1,847 per week. This is higher than the national average.
While most people work full-time hours (57%), there is still a significant number of people who work part-time hours, meaning working arrangements can be flexible.
How can I become a Speech Pathologist?
If you believe you’ve got what it takes to become a Speech Pathologist, then a great place to start is with the HLT43015 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Speech Pathology).
This nationally recognised speech pathology qualification will qualify you to work as Speech Pathologist Assistant, which could provide you the perfect introduction to the industry.
This online course will take you through a number of topics, teaching you the skills and knowledge you need to work in speech therapy.
To become a Speech Pathologist, you need to obtain a degree in speech therapy. So if you decide that you want to further your studies, the Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Speech Pathology) can also act as a pathway to university.
Through our partnership with Charles Sturt University, you could use your certificate as credit towards a bachelor degree. For more information on university pathways, check out our university pathways page or jump onto the course page.
Enrol today with OC and unlock your potential.