What can I do with a degree in Speech and Language Pathology?

A group of UC Speech and Language Pathology students conduct a discussion group. 
© Restricted/University of Canterbury

Speech–language therapists are professionals educated in the study of communication, its development and its disorders. Speech–language therapists who work in schools often see children who have difficulty communicating because of problems in language development or associated problems in learning to read. They also deal with children who stutter or are not able to produce speech appropriate to their age. Speech–language therapists in medical settings provide services to those who have lost the ability to communicate or swallow effectively due to stroke, degenerative disease, brain injury or cancer.

A Speech and Language Pathology graduate’s valuable skillset includes:

  • The ability to plan, manage and evaluate speech-language therapy programmes
  • Advocacy for people with a disability
  • Advanced cross-cultural awareness
  • Skills in research methodology, assessment and diagnosis
  • Critical and logical thinking
  • Selecting resources and technologies that best support clinical services
  • Advanced quantitative skills
  • Creative thinking
  • Cooperation, teamwork and leadership
  • Oral and written communication
  • Well-developed counselling skills
  • The ability to extract and give information.


Practical fieldwork accounts for 25–50% of the year’s work depending on year of study. Students work with practicing therapists and clients in a variety of settings in Ōtautahi Christchurch and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. This work helps to deepen a student’s skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

The majority of Speech and Language Therapy graduates find employment in health and education. The Ministries of Health and Education offer many opportunities, whether it is in a school
setting, early childhood centre, hospital, rest home, rehabilitation facility, community organisation, orearly intervention team.
Therapists are also found in private clinics, notfor-profit organisations, research laboratories and universities. Some graduates may elect to move into health education/promotion or social services.

Recent UC Speech and Language Pathology graduates have been employed in:

  • Education settings eg, Ministry of Education, Kimi Ora Special School, Patricia Avenue School, Rutherford College
  • Hospitals eg, Auckland Hospital, Christchurch Hospital, Burwood Hospital, Wellington Hospital, Starship Hospital, Dunedin Hospital
  • District health boards from the Bay of Plenty right through to the Southern district
  • Not-for-profit organisations eg, TalkLink Trust, Age Concern, Manawanui, The Hearing House
  • Specialist rehabilitation services eg, Southern Cochlear Implant Programme, The Laura Fergusson Trust
  • Private practice eg, ECHO, Bay Audiology, Triton Hearing
  • Community health eg, Te Piki Oranga
  • Educational and research institutions eg, University of Canterbury, Griffith University, NZ Brain Research Institute
  • Organisations abroad eg, Hong Kong, Malaysia, London, Vietnam, Singapore.

The speech–language therapy/pathology profession offers a range of career opportunities — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require further study at postgraduate level. See ‘Further study’ section on this page.

Speech-language therapist — in a hospital

  • Helps people communicate, swallow, eat
  • Assesses and diagnoses communication difficulties eg, traumatic brain injury
  • Develops and implements treatment plans, monitors progress and writes reports
  • Educates patients and supports their whānau

Speech-language therapist — working with children (paediatric habilitationist, paediatric speech-language therapist)

  • Helps children communicate, swallow, eat
  • Assesses and diagnoses children who have speech and language difficulties, hearing loss or physical disabilities that affect their speech
  • Educates patients and supports their whānau

Speech-language therapist — in a nursing home

  • Helps elders communicate, swallow, eat
  • Develops and implements treatment plans, monitors progress and writes reports
  • Leads group therapy sessions
  • Educates patients and supports their whānau

Speech-language therapist — in a private practice

  • Assesses and diagnoses clients with communication disorders
  • Helps people communicate, swallow, eat
  • Develops and implements treatment plans, monitors progress and writes reports
  • Leads group therapy sessions
  • Educates patients and supports their whānau

Speech and language researcher

  • Investigates various communication disorders
  • Develops new treatment approaches
  • Reports findings in research publications

Tertiary lecturer

  • Prepares and gives lectures and tutorials
  • Sets and marks assignments and exams
  • Conducts research, writes and publishes articles

Clinical manager

  • Supervises newly qualified therapists
  • Plans schedules and delivers training
  • Sets and reviews organisation objectives

Ngā pūkenga manaaki

  • Plans and provides community support
  • Steers people through health issues and change
  • Facilitates personal and mental well-being
  • Works in a te ao Māori and Whānau Ora context

Community support worker / coordinator

  • Recognises problems and concerns within communities eg, mental health, housing access
  • Develops programmes to address local issues
  • Facilitates access to resources or services

Audiologist, auditory-verbal therapist, audiometrist

  • Measures and treats hearing disorders and loss
  • Prescribes and fits hearing aids and other listening devices
  • Leads rehabilitation and workplace programmes

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Offers their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in the community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Speech and Language Pathology subject page