There is a lot of competition in the medical sector and if you’re going to carve out a niche for yourself then it’s a good idea to choose a field where you can make your mark.

Speech and language therapists work with children and adults to improve their communication skills. In children with developmental problems or health conditions which can affect their brain or body, it’s important to help them reach their full potential. For adults who have suffered injury, illness or mental decline, the potential benefit from speech and language therapy is something which must be invested in.

But with only a little over 10,500 qualified speech and language therapists in the UK, the demand for more recruits is high, whether in the NHS, private health sector or on behalf of charities and other non-profit organisations.

So if you’re interested in making a vital difference in the way patients can communicate their needs, Speech and Language Therapy might be an ideal specialism.

What qualifications and skills do I need to study Speech and Language Therapy?

To begin a career you’ll need at least a BSc in Speech and Language Therapy, although you can study an MSc if you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related science such as psychology or linguistics. Entry requirements differ between institutions which offer the qualification, so it’s best to browse the website of the particular university you are interested in or get in touch with their admissions office.

According to Clare Armstrong-Roger, Speech and Language Therapist, an important personality trait for a professional in this industry is to be patient and adaptable, as the job involves working with people who find speech difficult, many of whom will be children, and you need to enjoy helping people. It is also important to know how to make the activities and tasks fun to keep kids motivated and there will be a background check to ensure you’re suitable for a role working closely alongside children and vulnerable adults.

What will I be doing?

You will be helping children and adults who have difficulty with their speech, language or communication and you may work with clients who have problems eating, swallowing or chewing if you choose to train and specialise in dysphagia. You will need to be able to diagnose issues and identify suitable treatments in order to help people to communicate to the best of their ability.

Working may vary from a one-to-one basis to group sessions, and the locations may differ from hospitals or community health centres to schools or client homes.

How do I get started?

Speech and Language Therapy is a growing field. Many people find their way into it via locum work and there isn’t currently a direct route as the profession is still fairly new. While some instructors will simply accept those with the right qualifications, others may prefer you to have had some experience observing speech therapy sessions – therefore looking into taking a study placement beforehand could be invaluable. This makes it an exciting career prospect for someone who wants to make a real difference to the industry they work in.

You must be understanding and able to apply clinical knowledge to real life situations. Your days will never be dull, as no two cases will ever be the same, and it is a truly rewarding and positive field to work in. High demand means that the job market is currently very stable, and there are multiple opportunities for further learning and professional development.