How To Become A Speech Pathologist In Australia?

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 the answer is yes, you can consider becoming a Speech Pathologist in Australia.

 

Speech pathologists detect and treat patients who experience difficulties in speech, communication, language, and swallowing. They employ different strategies such as direct intervention, consultancy, education, and encouragement to achieve better communication outcomes.

 

If you are interested in working as a speech pathologist and knowing more about this profession, then read this guide.

 

Here you will learn all about the work responsibilities, qualifications, earning potential, employment prospects of a speech pathologist, and steps to launch your career in this industry.

 


1. What Is Speech Pathology?


Speech pathology is the medical science that is related to the examination, treatment, and administration of speech, language, communication, fluency, swallowing, and voice disorders in new-borns, children, youngsters, and adults.

 


2. Who Is A Speech Pathologist?


Speech Pathologists are well-trained professionals that detect and manage communication impairments, or speech impediments with people of all age groups, and children.


These professionals employ different treatment plans and methods to understand the possible reasons that cause 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.


Based on the analysis, 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 important 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/or swallowing disorders in people of varying age groups.

  • Based on age, education, intellectual, and physical abilities, they devise a personalized plan to treat and manage the disorder.

  • Diagnose abnormal articulation, stammering, speech issues, language problems, swallowing, etc., and manage it 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 continued assistance, guidance, and information to language-handicapped persons, their family members, employers, and teachers.

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

 


4. Key Skills For Speech Pathologists


Speech pathologists have to be good at dealing with diverse situations and clients that include 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 pre-requisite 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


If you are starting straight from high school, then 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 common requirement is meeting the minimum ATAR score and passing high school.


However, if you have a bachelor’s degree in aligned fields such as linguistics, psychology, or neuroscience and wish to pursue this profession as a graduate, then 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:

 

  • English language requirement

  • Minimum Grade Point Average of 4.5 out of 7.0 

  • Knowledge of Linguistics, Phonetics, Functional anatomy, and neurology of the speech system.


The Master’s degree course in speech pathology aims to make students ready to take up 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 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 the membership of this industry body after graduating. You can easily check the accreditation status online.

 

  • It is beneficial to choose a university that offers both a bachelor’s and master’s degree course in speech pathology. This 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 prerequisites, course curriculum, outcomes, learning resources, study mode, and delivery options, of the course. Ensure that the university regularly updates the study material and provides the latest and most relevant subjects that conforms 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 attendance. If you choose the last option, then you must also check the campus location and the required number of 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 arrange, or recommend organizations/ individuals to gain work experience. You need to make efforts from your end to find work opportunities.


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 who work in a range of settings and contact them directly to check about any work opportunity available with them.

 


Step 4: Become a Member of Speech Pathology Australia


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

 

To become certified, qualified professionals should register and gain membership with Speech Pathology Australia.


To continue providing Speech Pathology services in Australia, you must complete Speech Pathology Australia’s Professional Self-Regulating program and fulfil the Continuing Professional Development requirements every year.

 

 

National Industry bodies related to Speech Pathology:

 

 


7. Relevant Certification Courses For Speech Pathologists


Whether you are a high school pass out, or a 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 are specialists in treating people of specific age groups such as babies, children, adults, or old 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.


While at work, these professionals work as a team in conjunction with other health professionals such as 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 work opportunities for full-time and part-time employment/solo practice.

 


Working Hours


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

 


Age


The average age of employed professionals is 34 years which is low in comparison to that of the industry’s average of 40 years.

 


Gender


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

 


Following are the job positions on which they are generally employed:

 

  • Clinicians

  • Managers

  • Researchers

  • Policy advisors

  • Educators

  • Consultants

 


The profession also gives opportunities to work independently by running your practice. However, it is recommended to have 3 + years of experience 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.

 

This 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 gives you the flexibility to work either 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 interesting 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 very strong future growth for speech pathologists.

 

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


Health Care and Social Assistance, Public Administration and Safety, and Education and Training industries are expected to be the major contributors to employment opportunities for speech pathologists in Australia.

 


12. How Much Do Speech Pathologists Earn In Australia?


Based on Indeed, the average speech pathologist 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 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 opportunity and responsibility to enable people to participate fully in their everyday lives throughout their lifespan.


If you want to work to support individuals, families, and societies in the development, restoration, and management of speech and swallowing skills, then becoming a speech pathologist is an ideal pathway to realize your ambitions.

 

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