Speech and language therapists – career changes and new adventures

Date: 13th July 2014

Posted on: 13-07-2014

A coincidental smattering of recent articles featured speech and language therapists, and the career changes they had made including, Alison Hartnett who opened Tealicious Tearoom in Durham and Rachel Treweek who is the Archdeacon of Hackney.


As the 2004 article by Australian speech and language therapists suggests, a “job for life” is often no longer the case, with career changes and “metamorphoses” of health systems, speech therapists (and other allied health professionals) often move into other roles, including senior management roles. “Despite the lack of career planning and design, particularly in the early stages of career, it seems that speech pathologists (as well as other allied health professionals) have the capacity, competence and potential to make the transition into a huge array of areas and new careers”. (Pilling and Slattery, 2004)


So the move into management, within the NHS is a well trodden path. Moves into research or academia, are also more obvious transitions. But what about moves into less traditional arenas?


Our ASLTIP chair, Hilary Gardner, has been looking into the world of forensic phonetic and voice analysis and says “it does show how valuable phonetics and voice analysis are and how we underrate the ways our skills could be developed and specialised in this technological age.” In September MI5 advertised for speech analysts, including those with a degree in speech and language therapy suggesting “you’ll help with verifying the identity of known speakers using both forensic techniques and specialist technology” .


We have a number of resource publishers and app developers among ASLTIP members, where perhaps our specialist knowledge and entrepreneurial skills come together. Alex Kelly has a well known range of resources, including the TalkAbout series and Naomi Mason’s Speak Clearly tools are a popular choice. Libby Hill has published an international online magazine for therapists called S&L World, but during a break from speech therapy, she also ran a bar, sold sheds and ran a property development company!


The Archdeacon of Norwich is a former Speech and Language Therapist, and other former SLTs have chosen paths as painter, fashion designer, milliner and B&B owner . Former speech therapist Andy Davenport is the co-creator of popular children’s shows TeleTubbies and In The Night Garden.


With such a variety of other roles and new careers, what skills as speech and language therapists do we bring to other careers? Pilling and Slattery (2004) suggest it’s our “effective communication skills, problem-solving ability, accountability, teamwork skills, focus and validating their practice with an evidence base as being critical competencies that equip them to be effective in their positions, as well as equipping them to work in positions beyond their discipline.”


We’ll be writing a follow up blog looking at more of the career choices SLTs have made, and the reasons behind the moves.


Disclaimer: The above blog is written by an ASLTIP member. The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of ASLTIP. Publication does not imply endorsement.


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