Getting a job as a speech and language therapist in the UK

By Samantha Krimgoltz . 17/06/2024 · 8 Minute read

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Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) are pivotal in assisting individuals with communication and swallowing disorders. With an increasing demand for SLTs across the UK, now is an ideal time to explore this rewarding career. This guide will help you become a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK. It covers educational requirements and job search strategies.

Understanding the Profession

Speech and Language Therapists work with people of all ages who have speech, language, communication, or swallowing difficulties. They assess, diagnose, and treat various conditions, including stammering, developmental delays, and voice disorders. Essential skills for SLTs include excellent communication, patience, analytical thinking, and empathy with clients.

SLTs often collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, psychologists, and occupational therapists, to provide comprehensive care. You can work in hospitals, clinics, schools, or community settings, which offers a diverse and dynamic career path.

Typical Responsibilities:

  • Assessing and diagnosing communication disorders
  • Developing and implementing treatment plans
  • Collaborating with families and caregivers
  • Conducting individual and group therapy sessions
  • Documenting patient progress and adjusting treatments as necessary

Educational Requirements

To become an SLT, you must complete a recognised Speech and Language Therapy degree. Several universities in the UK offer accredited programmes, such as University College London, the University of Manchester, and the University of Sheffield. These courses typically take three to four years to complete and include both theoretical learning and practical placements.

The curriculum covers a range of subjects, including linguistics, phonetics, psychology, and clinical practice. Practical placements are important for training, providing hands-on experience in real-world settings with professional supervision.

Recommended Universities:

Licensing and Certification

As a speech and language graduate, you must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to practise as an SLT in the UK. To register, show your qualifications, fill out a character form, and meet HCPC proficiency standards.

Continuous professional development (CPD) is essential for maintaining registration. This means taking training courses, attending workshops, and keeping up with the latest research and progress in the field. The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) offers resources and support for ongoing professional development.

Steps for Registration:

  1. Obtain a degree in Speech and Language Therapy
  2. Apply for registration with the HCPC
  3. Complete CPD requirements annually


*In order to train and practice in dysphagia (swallowing disorders with adults children and adults with learning disabilities) a course must be completed after your degree called a Post Basic Dysphagia Course. This is separate to the degree and is usually in June or November and lasts 6 months.

 We recommend completing the Manchester Post Basic Dysphagia course if you wish to specialise in swallowing and dysphagia, as it is very challenging to specialise in it without completing this and being fully competent.*

Gaining Experience

Gaining experience is crucial for aspiring SLTs. You can start by volunteering or working as a speech and language therapy assistant. These roles provide valuable hands-on experience and can lead to further opportunities. Volunteering in relevant settings, such as schools, hospitals, or care homes, can also enhance your skills and expand your professional network.

Networking through professional organisations like the RCSLT can be beneficial. Attending conferences, joining groups, and participating in online forums can help you connect with professionals. It can also help you stay informed about job opportunities and career development.

Ways to Gain Experience:

  • Volunteering in healthcare settings
  • Working as a therapy assistant
  • Joining professional organisations
  • Attending industry conferences

Job Search Strategies

When you're ready to find a speech and language job, explore job boards such as NHS Jobs, Your World, and Indeed. Tailor your CV to highlight your relevant skills, experience, and qualifications. A strong CV and tailored cover letter are crucial for standing out in the competitive job market.

Prepare thoroughly for interviews by researching common questions and practising your responses. Emphasise your practical experience, problem-solving abilities, and commitment to the profession. Also, make a professional profile on LinkedIn to connect with employers and show your skills.

Key Job Search Tips:

  • Use specialised job boards like NHS Jobs and Your World Healthcare
  • Tailor your CV and cover letter for each application
  • Prepare for common interview questions
  • Maintain a professional online presence


Salary and Career Progression

In the UK, starting salaries for SLTs range from £25,000 to £30,000. Salaries can increase as you gain experience and specialise. With further experience, SLTs can progress to senior roles, specialist positions, or research, education, and management opportunities.

Career progression can involve specialising in areas such as paediatrics, neurology, or voice therapy. Senior SLTs may take on leadership roles, supervising junior staff and contributing to service development. Opportunities also exist to work in private practice or consultancy, offering greater flexibility and earning potential.

Potential Career Paths:

  • Senior SLT roles
  • Specialist positions in paediatrics, neurology, etc.
  • Research and academic positions
  • Private practice and consultancy

Specialisms in Speech and Language Therapy

SLTs can choose to specialise in various areas, allowing them to focus on specific populations or disorders. Specialising can enhance career prospects and provide opportunities for deeper expertise in a particular field.

Common Specialisms:

  • Paediatrics: Working with children with developmental speech and language disorders, including those with autism or learning disabilities.
  • Adult Neurology: Treating adults with neurological conditions such as stroke, brain injury, or Parkinson’s disease. *Requires completing a post-basic dysphagia course after studies.*
  • Voice Therapy: Helping individuals with voice disorders, including those affecting professional voice users like singers and teachers.
  • Dysphagia: Specialising in swallowing disorders, often working with patients who have suffered from strokes or other medical conditions affecting swallowing. *Requires completing a post-basic dysphagia course after studies.*

Each specialism requires additional training and expertise, often involving further study and certification. Choosing a speciality can provide more targeted and effective patient treatment and open advanced career opportunities.

Advantages of Using a Recruitment Agency

Utilising a recruitment agency like Your World can significantly streamline the job search process for aspiring SLTs. Recruitment agencies specialise in matching candidates with suitable job opportunities, offering several advantages:

Benefits of Using a Recruitment Agency:

  • Access to Exclusive Job Listings: Recruitment agencies often have access to job listings that are not advertised publicly, providing candidates with more opportunities.
  • Personalised Job Matching: Agencies match candidates with positions that align with their skills, qualifications, and career goals.
  • Expert Guidance: Recruiters provide valuable advice on CV writing, interview preparation, and career development.
  • Time Efficiency: Agencies handle much of the job search process, saving candidates time and effort.
  • Industry Connections: Established recruitment agencies have strong networks within the industry, increasing the likelihood of finding a suitable position.

Using a reputable agency like Your World Healthcare can give you a competitive edge in the job market and help you secure a position that fits your career aspirations. For more general information about recruitment agencies, visit the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

Challenges and Rewards

Working as an SLT can be challenging due to the emotional demands of the job and the complexity of cases. Common challenges include handling many different cases, dealing with red-tape, and helping clients with serious or complicated issues. However, the rewards are significant. Helping individuals improve their communication abilities and witnessing the positive impact on their lives brings immense job satisfaction.

The profession offers a high degree of variety, with each day bringing new challenges and learning opportunities. Helping clients and improving their well-being is a rewarding part of the job. For resources on mental health support for healthcare professionals, visit Mind.

Common Challenges:

  • Managing a diverse caseload
  • Navigating bureaucratic constraints
  • Addressing complex client needs

Key Rewards:

  • Improving clients' communication abilities
  • Making a positive impact on clients' lives
  • Continuous learning and professional growth


Becoming a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK can lead to a rewarding career with chances for advancement. With the right education, certification, and experience, you can make a meaningful difference in people's lives. Pursue your passion and take the first step towards this rewarding career today.

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