Is speech pathology right for you?
To work in speech pathology, you will need to have excellent communication skills. Speech pathologists primarily work with clients who have speech difficulties, hearing problems and/or communication disorders. To assist in this area, it’s vital that your own communication skills are strong – both to help you communicate with patients and to ensure you’re able to work successfully with the rest of the healthcare team.
Improving communication can be a difficult process, so it’s vital that those working in speech pathology have a measure of patience and empathy for the patients they treat. A lot of speech pathology patients are children, so it’s a bonus if you enjoy working with kids.
Other skills and traits that are key to working in speech pathology include a critical thinking/analytical mindset, active listening skills, customer service skills and knowledge of basic first aid.
Allied health specialities, including speech pathology, are currently experiencing the second-highest growth across the Australian health sector, so there’s never been a better time to pursue a speech pathology career. Here are a few more facts and figures about speech pathology job opportunities in Australia:
- According to the Department of Employment, there are around 6,400 people currently employed in speech pathology assistance around Australia, with the number expected to grow by around 1,000 workers by 2019.
- The majority of speech pathology assistants work full-time, for an average of 35 hours a week.
- Payscale suggests that the average salary for speech pathology assistants ranges from the high $40,000s to the mid $80,000s.
Types of courses
If you’re considering a career in speech pathology, there’s a range of courses available to help you break into the industry. There are several courses that can be your ticket to a speech pathology assistant position, or act as a gateway to higher-level study. Here’s a quick breakdown of the various types of speech pathology courses available, and what each type entails.
Speech pathology short courses can help provide a sound entry-level introduction to this branch of allied health. In a short course, you’ll cover the basics of supporting qualified speech pathologists to treat patients with communication and speech disorders.
A Certificate III course usually provides a more general overview of working in the allied health industry. While these courses generally don’t specialise solely in speech pathology, they do prepare students to work alongside a variety of allied health professionals, including speech pathologists and therapists.
Certificate IV-level courses in speech pathology prepare you to seek assistance positions in a range of speech pathology environments. In this type of course, you’ll gain practical experience and develop a versatile skill set for working in the allied health industry, preparing you to assist in the treatment and management of a range of speech and communication disorders.
Pursuing a career in speech pathology, you might find yourself working as an assistant in a small private clinic or in a larger allied health environment. Potential job titles include:
- Rehabilitation Counsellor
- Community Health Worker
- Disability Support Worker
- Special Needs School Assistant
- Government Program Consultant