How To Become A Speech Pathologist In Australia: Explained

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Students want to know how they can become speech pathologists in Australia.


Do you have a linguistic or scientific background and enjoy helping people? If yes, consider becoming a Speech Pathologist in Australia.


Speech pathologists detect and treat patients who experience difficulties in speech, communication, language, and swallowing. They use strategies for directing intervention, consultancy, education, and encouragement to achieve better communication outcomes.


If you want to work as a speech pathologist and understand more about this profession, read this guide.


You will learn about the work responsibilities, qualifications, courses, earning potential, employment prospects of a speech pathologist, jobs, salary, and steps to launch your career in this industry.



1. What Is Speech Pathology?


Speech pathology is the medical science related to speech, language, communication, fluency, swallowing, and voice disorders in newborns, children, youngsters, and adults.



2. Who Is A Speech Pathologist?


Speech Pathologists are well-trained professionals detecting and managing communication impairments or speech impediments in people of all age groups and children.


These professionals use treatment plans to understand the possible reasons causing speech disorders in people, such as delayed development, stroke, learning debilities, mental retardation, brain injuries, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, autism, psychological issues, a cleft palate, and other problems.


They perform standardized tests and use evaluation tools to diagnose specific problems such as articulation, word-finding, semantics, syntax, vocalization, phonics, stuttering, unclear speech, swallowing, etc., and devise a personalized treatment plan to overcome them.



3. Tasks And Duties Of A Speech Pathologist


Knowledge about the daily duties is necessary if you plan to make a career as a speech pathologist:


  • Use specialized equipment and tests to determine the precise nature and severity of speech and swallowing disorders in people.

  • They devise a personalized plan to treat and manage disorders.

  • Diagnose abnormal articulation, stammering, speech issues, language problems, swallowing, etc., and manage them effectively with a personalized treatment strategy based on individual conditions and requirements.

  • Recommend technological and non-technological communication devices, such as hearing aids

  • Offer consultation to academic, dental, medical, and other health professionals

  • Provide assistance, guidance, and information to language-handicapped persons, family members, employers, and teachers.

  • Plan group or individual rehabilitation therapy and remedial exercises for patients



4. Key Skills For Speech Pathologists


Speech pathologists must be good at dealing with diverse situations and clients, including individuals, teachers, employers, and families.


Here is a list of skills that make a successful speech-language pathologist


  • Genuine interest in serving and helping people

  • Knowledge of speech

  • Good observation skills

  • Resourceful

  • Able to develop tailored plans to meet the individual requirements of patients

  • Effective listening abilities

  • Excellent interpersonal skills

  • Proficiency in written and verbal communication

  • Self-Motivated and likes motivating people

  • Good problem-solving skills

  • Able to handle complex and uncommon situations effectively

  • Empathy and insightfulness

  • Good time-management skills

  • Good Administrative and Record-Keeping skills

  • Result-oriented

  • Able to work independently and form decisions

  • Enterprising abilities

  • Analytical approach

  • Creative thinking



5. Qualifications For Speech Pathologists In Australia


You must complete the following qualifications to become a licensed Speech Pathologist in Australia:


  • Obtain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in one or more prerequisite subjects such as English, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, and Physics

  • Complete a Bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology or Master of Speech Pathology at an accredited Australian university. 

  • Register with Speech Pathology Australia to become a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist

  • You also require a National Police Certificate, Immunisation, a Working with Children Check, and a provide First Aid Certificate before offering your services.



6. Steps To Become A Speech Pathologist In Australia



Step 1: Decide On The Qualification


Suppose you are starting straight from high school. In that case, you must complete the Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) as an undergraduate student


This is a 4-year degree course that gives an in-depth knowledge of treating speech-related and communication disorders, such as reading, comprehension, speaking, writing, stammering, and swallowing, in children and adults.


Though the entry requirements for this course vary from one university to another, the most common condition is meeting the minimum ATAR score and passing high school.


However, suppose you have a bachelor's degree in aligned fields such as linguistics, psychology, or neuroscience and wish to pursue this profession as a graduate. In that case, you must complete a 2-years Master's degree in speech pathology. 


You must note that many universities require students to satisfy the following conditions to be eligible for the course:



The Master's degree course in speech pathology aims to prepare students for professional practice as speech pathologists. 


By undertaking the course, students develop the necessary skills to evaluate and manage communication and speech disorders in people of all cultural backgrounds to facilitate easy and effective communication.



Step 2: Find The Right University


Once you have decided on the study route, the next step is to find the best Australian university to undertake the speech pathology course.


  • Ensure that the university is accredited and recognized by Speech Pathology Australia to take advantage of membership in this industry body after graduating. You can quickly check the accreditation status online.


  • Choosing a university that offers both a bachelor's and master's degree course in speech pathology is beneficial. It will help make a smooth transition from one course to another if you wish to attain a post-graduate qualification to gain advanced knowledge in this field.


  • Familiarise yourself with the course prerequisites, curriculum, outcomes, learning resources, study mode, and delivery options. Ensure that the university regularly updates the study material and provides the latest and most relevant subjects that conform to the SPA guidelines.


  • Consider your personal and professional commitments and choose the university that allows you to study as per your preferred study mode, i.e., 'distance', 'online' enrolments or in-person. If you choose the last option, you must also check the campus location and the required hours to attend the program.



Step 3: Get Work Experience


Getting adequate work experience along with qualifications can help improve your job prospects. 


Prospective students should note that Speech Pathology Australia doesn't recommend organizations gain work experience. You must find work opportunities by yourself.


Contacting a speech pathologist or organization engaged in this field can help. Several speech pathologists do have websites where you can find their contact details. 


Find local professionals in various settings and contact them directly to discuss work opportunities.



Step 4: Become a Member of Speech Pathology Australia


Here comes the final step to working as a Speech Pathologist in Australia. Most employers, insurers, and funding bodies look for Certified Practising Speech Pathologists.


To become a certified speech pathologist, you should register and gain membership with Speech Pathology Australia.


To practice Speech Pathology in Australia, you must complete Speech Pathology Australia's Professional Self-Regulating program. Further, you must also fulfil the Continuing Professional Development requirements every year.



National Industry Bodies Related to Speech Pathology:




7. Relevant Certification Courses For Speech Pathologists


If you are a high school graduate desiring to make a career in speech pathology, the following speech pathology courses will help you embark on your chosen professional journey.


The courses equip students to provide the necessary assistance and intervention that is proof-based, individual-cantered, and culturally sensitive:



Bachelor's Degree in Speech Pathology


  • Australian Catholic University

  • Charles Sturt University

  • Southern Cross University 

  • University of Newcastle

  • Western Sydney University

  • Central Queensland University



Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology)


  • The University of Sydney



Bachelor of Science (Speech Pathology)


  • Curtin University



Bachelor of Speech and Language Sciences/Master of Speech Pathology


  • Victoria University



Master of Speech-Language Pathology


  • The University of Sydney 

  • University of Canberra

  • Charles Sturt University

  • Macquarie University

  • University of Technology Sydney

  • Griffith University

  • University of Queensland

  • University of Tasmania



Master of Speech and Language Therapy


  • Charles Darwin University



8. Work Conditions For Speech Pathologists



Work Setting


Speech pathologists treat people of specific age groups, such as babies, children, adults, or older people.


They often work to treat swallowing or communication issues in patients who have a history of a cleft palate, stroke, or suffering from a disability.


These professionals work with other health professionals. These include audiologists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and doctors.



Nature of Employment


Around 56% of the employed workforce work full-time. 


This shows that the profession provides equal full-time and part-time employment opportunities.



Working Hours


Full-time workers spend around 41 hours per week at work (compared to an average of 44 hours).





The average age of employed professionals is 34 years which is low compared to the industry's average of 40 years.





This is a female-dominated profession that has around 97% of its employees as females. 


This figure is far higher than the average gender share of 48% in other occupations.



9. Where Can A Speech Pathologist Work In Australia?


Speech pathologists usually work in a variety of settings that, include:


  • Healthcare

  • Kindergartens

  • Schools

  • Public hospital

  • Rehab centres

  • Nursing homes

  • Research laboratories

  • Mental health services

  • Non-profit organizations

  • Government agencies

  • Physician's office

  • Early intervention services for children

  • Community health services

  • Aged care services

  • Private practices

  • Health promotion services



The following are the job positions in which they work:




The profession also gives opportunities to work independently by running your practice. However, having 3 + years of experience is recommended before setting up your private practice.



Areas of Specialization


There are multiple options available for experienced Speech pathologists to specialize and work in a niche segment. 


They can choose to get trained in any of the following areas that interest them: 


  • As a Paediatric speech pathologist that works with younger patients (babies, pre-schoolers, school-aged children)

  • Working with Adults

  • As a Specialist in fluency

  • As a Swallowing Specialist

  • As a Mentor to freshly recruited professionals 

  • Working with patients having learning disabilities

  • Working with Patients having speech disorders

  • Oral motor therapy

  • Augmentative-alterative communications for those experiencing natural speech difficulties



10. Is Speech Pathology A Good Career In Australia?


Speech pathology is an ideal career for those who get along well with people and enjoy helping or offering service to people.


It is a rewarding and emotionally fulfilling career that gives you immense joy and satisfaction by helping people overcome their speech and language difficulties.


The profession allows you to work full-time or part-time or run your practice. The personal and professional benefits of becoming a speech pathologist don't end here. You get the opportunity to execute your ideas with little or no supervision.


Good working conditions, a steady flow of exciting work, the potential to grow and lead, and good earning potential make it a lucrative career choice.



11. Job Prospects For Speech Pathologists In Australia


Looking at a substantial rise in demand for speech pathologists in Australia, the number of university programs offering speech pathology has also increased in recent years.


The Australian Government Job Outlook website projects strong future growth for speech pathologists.


At present, 7,300 workers work as Speech pathologists in Australia.


Health Care and Social Assistance, Public Administration and Safety, and Education and Training industries will contribute to employment opportunities for speech pathologists in Australia.



12. How Much Do Speech Pathologists Earn In Australia?


Based on Indeed, the average speech pathologist's salary in Australia is $82,941 per year or an equivalent of $55.18 per hour. 


The average weekly of Speech Pathologists is $1,827 in Australia.



Based on Experience


As per PayScale, the average salary of a Speech Pathologist with varying experience is as follows:


  • An entry-level Speech Pathologist (< less than 1-year experience): AU$62,448

  • An early career Speech Pathologist (1 to 4 years of experience): AU$66,858

  • A mid-career Speech Pathologist (5 to 9 years of experience): AU$74,933 

  • An experienced Speech Pathologist (10 to 19 years of experience): AU$82,205



Based on the Area of Work


According to Indeed, the top-paying Australian cities for Speech Pathologists are:


  • Liverpool, New South Wales: $86,042 per year

  • Perth, Western Australia: $84,516 per year

  • Newcastle, New South Wales: $82,513 per year

  • Sydney, New South Wales: $81,783 per year

  • Brisbane Queensland: $81,365 per year

  • Gold Coast Queensland: $81,102 per year

  • Melbourne, Victoria: $80,826 per year

  • Canberra Australian Capital Territory: $80,286 per year



13. Conclusion


A career as a Speech pathologist gives you a great responsibility to enable people to participate fully in their everyday lives throughout their lifespan.


If you like supporting individuals, families, and societies in speech development, restoration and management, becoming a speech pathologist is an excellent pathway to realize your ambitions.


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