Become a speech pathologist

For more information about the work carried out by speech pathologists see What speech pathologists do.

How to become a speech pathologist?

Speech Pathology Australia accredits universities that offer speech pathology education programs.   

Currently, speech pathologists can gain a recognised qualification at either a Bachelor or Master level.

Both courses are equally recognised by the Association and employers.   

To learn more see SPA’s Position Statement on Dual Entry to the Speech Pathology Profession.  

Australian universities offer speech pathology programs (recognised by Speech Pathology Australia) and their accreditation status are available here.

To work in Australia, most employers, insurance schemes and funding bodies require speech pathologists to be a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (CPSP) which requires membership of Speech Pathology Australia, or to be eligible for membership of Speech Pathology Australia.

An image of a speechie and a child

Which university program should I choose?

Every university program has points of difference, but all programs must meet the Speech Pathology Australia accreditation standards for graduating students to be eligible for membership of Speech Pathology Australia.

Speech Pathology Australia accredits both bachelor and master’s degree programs against the same standards.  

Bachelor and master’s degrees equally equip students to work as speech pathologists in Australia.

A bachelor degree in speech pathology is usually 4-5 years in duration, whereas a master’s degree is 2-3 years.

Students enrolling in a master’s degree usually have a bachelor degree in an aligned field or another recognised qualification.

All university programs offering a professional entry speech pathology qualification require students to complete speech pathology placements/work integrated learning. Prospective students should be aware that placements may not always be available close to the student’s home, and some universities mandate regional or rural placements during the degree.

Whilst some universities offer ‘distance’ or ‘online’ enrolments, most programs require in-person attendance at the relevant university at various points throughout the degree. Prospective students should enquire as to the amount of time students are required to attend the university in person.

Speech Pathology Australia does not recommend one university program over another. Prospective students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with each program’s prerequisites, course outlines, delivery options and resources, and contact the relevant universities with queries.

Is study as an Allied Health Assistant a pathway to becoming a speech pathologist?

An Allied Health Assistant qualification, in any form, is not a recognised pathway towards becoming a speech pathologist or gaining entry to a speech pathology degree.

Short courses in speech pathology or similar variants are also not recognised by Speech Pathology Australia and do not equip graduates for entry to the speech pathology profession in Australia.

What are the job and salary prospects?

The Australian Government Job and Skills Australia provides further details on employment, prospects, salaries and the workforce.

The national (minimum) award for speech pathologists in Australia is detailed for Speech Pathologists in all sectors in the Health Professionals and Support Services award (2010). Note that some employers will create separate. agreements including Enterprise Bargaining Agreements (EBAs) for pay and entitlements outside of this award.

The Speech Pathology Australia Career Centre will provide you with an indication of the types of positions, contexts and salaries being offered for speech pathologists.

The number of universities offering speech pathology, and the number of bachelor and graduate entry master's degree programs has increased substantially since 2017. The increase in program offerings has increased the number of students enrolling in Australian speech pathology degrees which is consequently increasing the number of Australian graduates. Graduate projections are expected to continue to increase as newly established programs graduate their first and subsequent cohorts in coming years.

Where can I work?

Speech pathologists typically work in health, education and disability (including the NDIS), but speech pathology practice and work contexts are continuing to evolve.

They may work as clinicians, educators, researchers, policy advisors, managers, advocates, consultants and in other aligned roles.

Speech pathologists provide services in a range of settings including public services, such as government agencies and not for profit organisations, as well as in private practices, with other speech pathologists, in a sole practice, or with other disciplines.

Can I work overseas after I graduate?

Eligibility to work internationally as a speech pathologist varies between countries (and even within countries).

In most cases, you will need to be a Certified Practicing Member of Speech Pathology Australia.

You may need to complete additional requirements before you are deemed eligible, such as completing a skills assessment for migration purposes, obtaining a letter of good standing, having a minimum number of practice hours or documenting your clinical experience.

Some countries require at least a master’s qualification in speech pathology. 

How can I arrange work experience?

Use the Speech Pathology Australia ‘Find a speech pathologist’ search to find a Speech Pathology Australia member near you, working in an area of interest.

Contact the speech pathologist/s or organisation/s directly.

Many speech pathologists also have independent websites which contain contact details.

Please note, Speech Pathology Australia does not arrange, coordinate or recommend individuals or organisations for work experience opportunities, nor guarantee availability of work experience opportunities.

How can I find out more about speech pathology?

Access resources and information on this website including videos, podcasts, fact sheets (including What is a Speech Pathologist) and position statements.

Speak with speech pathologists working in a range of settings.

Arrange a work experience or workplace observation opportunity.