A speech-language pathologist, also known as a speech therapist, is a professional who specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders. Communication disorders can include difficulties with speaking, listening, reading, writing, and social communication, such as pragmatics and nonverbal communication. Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia, can include difficulties with swallowing, feeding, and drinking.
Speech-language pathologists work with individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly, who have a wide range of communication and swallowing disorders. These can include developmental delays, speech and language disorders, stuttering, hearing loss, brain injury, stroke, and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
The goal of speech-language therapy is to improve the individual's communication and swallowing abilities to the greatest extent possible. This may involve teaching new communication skills, improving existing ones, and/or helping the individual to use alternative forms of communication, such as sign language or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices.
Speech-language pathologists typically work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, private practices, and home health agencies.
Earn a bachelor's degree: To become a speech-language pathologist in Australia, you typically need to have a bachelor's degree in speech pathology or a related field. This program should be accredited by Speech Pathology Australia (SPA).
Complete a master's degree program: Most speech-language pathologists in Australia hold a master's degree in speech pathology or a related field. The program should be accredited by SPA.
Complete a clinical placement: During your master's degree program, you'll need to complete a clinical placement, which is a period of supervised professional practice in speech-language pathology.
Register with Speech Pathology Australia: To practice as a speech-language pathologist in Australia, you must be registered with SPA. This involves completing an application and providing evidence of your education, clinical experience, and professional conduct.
Maintain your registration: Once you're registered, you'll need to maintain your registration by participating in ongoing professional development and adhering to SPA's ethical and professional standards.
Note: The specific requirements for becoming a speech-language pathologist in Australia may vary depending on the state or territory in which you practice, so it's important to check the requirements for your specific location.