Speech and Language Therapy Assistant - Entry Level

Speech and Language

Speech and language therapy assistants are the frontline of helping patients with conditions that affect their communication, swallowing and feeding. It could also be your first step in becoming a speech and language therapist.

As a speech and language therapy assistant, you'll work closely with speech and language therapists and support them in improving the lives of people with a variety of conditions.

Skills and knowledge

To become a Speech and Language Therapy Assistant you will need to:

  • be able to work with people of all ages
  • enjoy using language and communication to help people
  • be able to motivate people
  • be able to reassure people
  • enjoy working alone or as a member of a team
  • excellent communication skills
  • ability to motivate people
  • organisation skills
  • ability to explain treatment to patients


There are no set entry requirements for speech and language therapy assistants. Employers expect good numeracy and literacy and some experience or qualifications in health or social care. Employers may ask for GCSEs in English and maths. They may ask for NVQ, BTEC or an equivalent qualification in health and social care.
Employers often ask for relevant work experience. Even where this is not specified, it would be an advantage if you have worked in health or social care, either in paid employment or voluntary work. If you’re applying for a role in the NHS, you’ll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.

Routes into this job

You could do a college course to get into this job. Relevant subjects include:

- Level 2 Certificate in Employment Skills for the Care Sector
- Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care
- Level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services
- Level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support
- Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care

Most health and social care courses include work placements so this could be a good way of getting experience.


You'll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

You can do an intermediate healthcare support worker apprenticeship, an advanced apprenticeship as a senior healthcare support worker or a higher healthcare assistant practitioner apprenticeship.


There are no set entry requirements but it may help you to get in if you have:
- some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

You could start as a healthcare assistant and move into speech and language therapy assistant work, through further training and promotion.

Employers look for relevant work experience so it would be an advantage if you have worked or volunteered in a health or social care role.

You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.

You may also find relevant volunteering opportunities through The National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Do IT.

Career progression

You will receive appropriate training in order do the job, including an introduction to the department and its procedures. Some speech and language therapy assistants use their knowledge and skills in other languages to offer a bilingual service. You may be offered the chance to study for qualifications such as:

  • the NCFE CACHE level 2 Certificate in Healthcare Support Services

  • the NCFE CACHE level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support

You may also be able to do an apprenticeship.

Speech and language therapy assistants can become associate members of the Royal College of Speech and Language Specialists (RCSLT) who run courses and events for speech and language therapy assistants to update their skills and network.

With experience, you could become a team leader supervising the work of other speech and language therapy assistants. You could apply to train as an assistant practitioner or with the necessary qualifications, as a speech and language therapist.

Healthcare support worker - Level 2

Healthcare support workers (HCSWs) work as part of a team providing high quality and compassionate care to individuals. You will carry out well-defined routine clinical duties like monitoring an individual’s conditions (by checking things like blood pressure, temperature or weight), checking on their overall progress, comfort and wellbeing. Depending on where you work, you may also help them to eat, drink, wash, dress or go to the toilet. You will prepare individuals for healthcare activities carried out by other members of the healthcare team, looking after them before, during and/or after those activities in line with their care plan. You will also carry out non-clinical duties and, depending on where you work, this could include things like keeping records, making beds, tidying up your work area, returning or cleaning the equipment used during a clinical activity. You will be able to address straightforward problems in your day to day work, reporting concerns and changes to the appropriate person in a timely manner. HCSWs work in a range of healthcare settings and your team may include workers from both health and social care. You will report to a registered healthcare practitioner who will directly or indirectly supervise your work.

Senior Healthcare support worker - Level 3

Senior support workers will use more advanced skills under the supervision of registered staff and may also work alone, with access to a registered member of staff on site or via the telephone. Responsibilities include the direct delivery of clinical, technical, or scientific activities following training. They may demonstrate own duties to other support workers, students, or less experienced staff. They will also carry out administration tasks related to patient care and the wider service. At this stage, senior support workers will contribute to service improvement and be able to make fact-based judgements.

Assistant Practitioner - Level 5

Assistant practitioners work at a level above that of healthcare support workers and have more in-depth education and understanding about factors that influence health and ill-health, for example anatomy and physiology. Support workers at this level will possess enhanced skills in their area of work, which may be a specialist clinical area. They will provide routine and non-routine care and support, including to service users with more complex needs and making assessment of progress. They can demonstrate own activities to new or less experienced employees and provide training to others.

Speech and Language Therapist BSc - Level 6

This occupation is found in a variety of contexts, including the NHS, local authorities, voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector (VCS) organisations, the education and justice sectors and in independent practice. Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council and are uniquely qualified to provide speech, language, communication and eating, drinking and swallowing therapies. They work in many settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, in the community, within charities, schools, and peoples’ homes. There are opportunities throughout your career to specialise and move into leadership, training and research roles. You would also work closely with teachers and other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses and psychologists. You may also supervise the work of speech and language therapy assistants.

Enhanced Clinical Practitioner - Level 6

This occupation is found in the health and care sector. Enhanced Clinical Practitioners are qualified health and social care professionals who are working at an enhanced level of practice with specific knowledge and skills in a field of expertise. They manage a discrete aspect of a patient’s care within their current level of practice, which will be particular to a specific context, be it a client group, a skill set or an organisational context. This is in contrast to Advanced Clinical Practitioners who have developed their knowledge and skills to an advanced level of practice and would manage the whole episode of a patient’s clinical care, from the time they first present, through to the end of the episode.

Advanced Clinical Practitioner - Level 7

Advanced Clinical Practitioners are experienced clinicians who demonstrate expertise in their scope of practice. Advanced Clinical Practitioners manage defined episodes of clinical care independently, from beginning to end, providing care and treatment from the time an individual first presents through to the end of the episode, which may include admission, referral or discharge or care at home. They carry out their full range of duties in relation to individuals’ physical and mental healthcare and in acute, primary, urgent and emergency settings (including hospitals, general practice, individuals’ homes, schools and prisons, and in the public, independent, private and charity sectors). They combine expert clinical skills with research, education and clinical leadership within their scope of practice. Advanced Clinical Practitioners work innovatively on a one to one basis with individuals as well as part of a wider team. They work as part of the wider health and social care team and across traditional professional boundaries in health and social care.