The speech and language therapy career path
By Dan Allard
Band 5 newly qualified practitioner duties
Band 5 speech and language therapists often work with more experienced colleagues across a variety of wards, which allows you to gain clinical experience in a range of areas. You’ll be given lots of supervision and support as in line with the core capabilities framework.
After you have gained six months clinical experience, your NHS employer will likely require you to complete a postgraduate dysphagia training module. These short 3-day training courses (available throughout the UK) will allow you to assess patients and develop dysphagia treatment packages.
As you gain more experience, you may choose to work in a specific team (such as elderly care, respiratory and general medicine) or in a specialist department such as trauma or ENT. You will be responsible for assessments and interventions and will work as part of a multidisciplinary team, liaising with professionals in areas such as occupational therapy, nursing, education and even psychiatry.
Band 6 specialist speech and language therapist duties
Many speech and language therapists choose to specialise to develop their expertise and knowledge in a focused way. Common specialisms include providing assessments, planning treatments, and managing rehabilitation for inpatients with both swallowing and communication disorders, working with adults with learning disabilities, or within stroke units. You may work in community services, providing speech and language therapy to schools for children with developmental delays.
As you gain more experience you may be asked to support and supervise junior or newly qualified colleagues. However, you will still be given support and guidance from other staff who will help you to develop your skills and knowledge. This will enable you to progress into new bands, increasing your earning potential.
Band 7 senior specialist speech and language therapist duties / clinical lead duties
At this level, you may be more involved in the design and delivery of services.
As well as managing caseloads, you’re could be undertaking research and audits to ensure that services are providing effective patient care and you may be involved in clinical supervision or line management of junior staff who will report directly to you.
Band 8a clinical service manager duties
You will move away from day-to-day patient caseloads and into a more managerial role, designing and delivering services, as well as checking their efficiency.
You’ll be responsible for clinical governance responsibilities and making significant contributions to the wider network of the service. Key tasks may include performance management, budget responsibilities, and ongoing business planning.
Band 8b head of speech and language therapy duties
As the head of a department, you may be responsible for services in acute and community settings. You will have the responsibility of the entire team and will be required to demonstrate clear strategic approaches to service delivery. As well as maintaining services for patients, you will also spend time supporting your team – including support workers, speech and language therapists, and administrative staff to ensure that everyone is working together cohesively.
To find out more about how we can support you through every stage of your speech and language therapy career, please get in touch