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The Bachelor of Speech Pathology degree is a four year course consisting of compulsory units and selected electives. Research and review units should be considered to undertake opportunities for Honours. Substantial clinical experience is gained through placements which range from half-day observation visits and full-day weekly experience at local clinics (five to six week placements) which may occur in rural or regional locations.
A degree in speech pathology provides the opportunity to gain an understanding of human communication and related impairments such as delayed speech, cleft palate, stuttering, neurological origin, swallowing, intellectual and physical disabilities, autism and hearing loss of both children and adults. The main focus of a speech pathologist is in assessment, management, diagnosing, and developing and implementing treatment interventions to improve lives of those affected by these impairments.
Graduates are provided with knowledge and skills to practice as a Speech Pathologist and are eligible for membership of the Speech Pathology Association of Australia, and are able to seek employment anywhere in Australia. Opportunities are available in hospitals, community health centres, schools, rehabilitation units, nursing homes, specialist disability services, academic research, management positions and private practice.
For more information about Speech Pathology, visit the School of Humanities and Social Sciences site.
Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of Honours, Research Higher Degrees (RHD), Postgraduate Coursework and other additional study options available. These options may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the future options following a degree in Speech Pathology include:
Honours is embedded within this degree. To find out more, see Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours).
As the global job sector can be competitive, it is of great advantage to complete a postgraduate qualification, particularly by independent research (such as Masters by Research, or PhD). See examples of research areas within this discipline here.
There is a wide range of postgraduate coursework programs available in both social work and non-social work areas, which may broaden a graduate’s employment prospects. To explore such options please visit the Postgraduate Handbook at http://www.newcastle.edu.au/program/postgraduate/
While most graduates find work as Speech Therapists, this program has broader work opportunities. The following list provides some example jobs for the Speech Pathology degree. Some of these jobs will depend upon the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, and the combination of other majors and electives studied, for example some may require further study.
Getting the Edge
Most employers seek to recruit people who have relevant work experience and an appreciation for their industry. Here is a check list of ideas about gaining experience and industry knowledge.
- Check the type of experience most employers in your field of interest expect. Don’t overlook the part time work you may be currently doing. Most employers understand that the skills are transferrable even if the work is not in their industry.
- Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
- Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
- Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
- Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
- Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
- Consider volunteering.
Note: Gaining experience may be important but not at the expense of your studies. Make sure you do not overload your timetable with unrealistic work commitments.
Speech Therapists work in a range of settings including public and private health systems and in private practice. Below are some examples of types of employers of Speech Pathology graduates.
- Australian Defence Force (International)
- Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) (Australia)
- Centrelink (Australia)
- Defence Forces (Australia)
- Department of Defence - Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) (Australia)
- Department of Education and Training (Teach NSW) (Australia)
- Department of Health and Ageing (Australia)
Some large organisations have specific graduate recruitment programs designed to employ the pick of graduates each year. You must be in your final year of study or recently completed to apply for these programs. The timing of these recruitment drives varies and may occur at any point in the academic year, in some cases starting as early as the first few weeks of the first semester or trimester.
Find out if employers in your area/s of interest have graduate programs, when they typically recruit and what recruitment methods they use. Check with the Careers Service .
Job Prospects and Salary
For up-to-date information please see Job Outlook Australia. This site provides basic Australian labour market information including job prospects, skills requirements and salaries. You might try some of the classifications below as a guide on this site.
Societies and Associations
Associations and societies often provide relevant and up to date information about a variety of issues relating to specific industry sectors. These can be a good starting point to learn more about occupations through profiles, industry news, links to academic journals and information on research developments. Many also offer student membership, conference and professional development activities, newsletters and the opportunity to participate in projects.
Don’t overlook student societies and associations. As well as student chapters of professional associations, some faculties or schools have discipline based student associations. Check your school or faculty web site; perhaps you might start one if one doesn’t exist.
Some academic disciplines run Seminar Programs that involve regular seminars presented by University of Newcastle academics, visiting academics and postgraduate students. Check your schools website for the timetable.
Job Search Sites
Searching job sites is a good way to gain an understanding of: industries recruiting professionals in this field; types of roles and the requirements or expectations of employers for these roles. There are many online job search sites, here are a few to start with:
Australian and International
- CareerHub: the University of Newcastle Careers Service careers and job search site for enrolled students and graduates.
- CareerOne: Australia wide job listings, all levels and industries including executive positions
- MyCareer: Australian and international listings
- Seek: comprehensive Australian job listings, also includes New Zealand and UK listings
- The Big Chair: Management and Executive Jobs
Graduate Attributes and Employability
Graduate attributes for the Bachelor of Speech Pathology are the skills, abilities and knowledge sets that are highly sought after in the industry. Below is the complete list of attributes that graduates will have demonstrated upon the completion of the degree.
- Distinctive and holistic: The graduates from The University of Newcastle will be distinctive having experienced a unique program in Australia where links to education and the arts, humanities and the social sciences have been emphasised. Having been based in a small metropolitan city with close community relationships, graduates will develop and maintain a holistic framework which is reflected in their approach to professional practice. Graduates will have experienced flexible learning opportunities allowing students to choose electives based on personal interest.
- Comprehensively experienced: Graduates will be competent to take on the full range of communication and swallowing disorders because of their comprehensive experience across all areas of professional practice (CBOS-Units 1-5). They will seek out new experiences independently to develop their professional competence further (CBOS Unit 7). The program provides a wide variety of experiences for all graduates and subsequently ensures entry-level competence across all range indicators through a combination of the academic and clinical program assessment tasks.
- Theoretically grounded: Graduates will offer a high quality service to each individual because of their ability to understand, integrate and develop different theoretical models, incorporate evidence-based practice principles to understand how the nature of each individual's difficulties relate to general principles of communication, swallowing and learning (COMPASS TM Generic Competencies Units 1 & 3, CBOS Units 1-5).
- A skilled communicator: Excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills are required for building effective partnerships and establishing rapport with patients, care givers, health professionals, other sectors and stakeholders, and the media. Graduates will have developed their verbal and written skills to a high standard and will be able to educate others about speech pathology, including those with communication and swallowing difficulties, their carers, colleagues in both speech pathology and allied professions, and the general community (COMPASS TM Generic Competencies Units 2 & 4, CBOS Units 5, 6 & 7). Clinical placements provide students with opportunities to directly gain interdisciplinary team experience and to develop an understanding of the complementary roles of other professionals prior to graduation.
- Self-aware and adaptable: Graduates will have the skills to meet the different challenges that arise across clinical contexts. They will have explored and reflected on their own values and those of the individuals they treat in a holistic way and reflected in their approach to professional practice. They will have gained experience in a wide range of settings and will be able to select and create innovative models of service delivery which best meet the needs of individuals, employing institutions, and the community (COMPASS TM Generic Competencies Units 1 & 4, CBOS Units 3-7).
- Lifelong learner: Graduates will be able to deal with rapid change and with the challenges of the future. They will remain up-to-date in all professional areas, and on the cutting-edge of theoretical and professional innovation (all CBOS Units). They will contribute to the profession through engagement with research, teaching and service activities. They will be able to self-evaluate and reflect on their effectiveness with a forward-looking focus, and this ability will ensure their continuing development of competence throughout their professional lives (COMPASS TM Generic Competencies Units 1 & 3, CBOS 7).
You will recognise these attributes in the selection criteria listed in the following job ads.
Sample Job Ads & Tips
Job ads provide useful information about the job and the required skills, experience and qualifications. Information like this is useful in career planning. Below is a small sample of job ads with tips on planning and job applications; explore further to gather more useful information for your planning.
Please note: the job ads listed on this page are not current and were sourced from a variety of websites in 2010.