How I changed careers and became a speech pathologist

From languages and marketing to a career in health
Stuck in jobs they didn’t love, Emma and Natasha made the tough decision to go back to study. Now speech pathologists, they reflect on how they overcame their fears to find meaning in their work.
Emma Arazzi and Natasha Absalom

What did you study before the Master of Speech Language Pathology?

After I finished high school, I studied a Bachelor of Arts so that I could choose a few different subjects to find out what my area of interest was. I ended up majoring in Italian with a minor of linguistics. I then studied a Master of Education (Teaching English as a Second Language), because I wanted to travel the world.

Can you describe the moment you knew that you wanted to become a speech pathologist?

When I was travelling through Italy, I really noticed that breakdown in communication, and I began to wonder what it would be like if this was the case for me in my life. What if I wasn’t able to communicate with others around me? Then I found out about speech pathology, and it seemed like a really natural transition from my undergraduate study of linguistics and my passion for languages.

What were your fears or reservations?

I did worry that I was a bit old, knowing that I was going to finish when I turned 28 – but what it really came down to was me thinking, “well what am I passionate about in life, and how am I going to get there?” I really am passionate about speech pathology, and despite my age this is something that I’m going to do for the rest of my life, so I’d better do something that I love, and I do not regret any of my decisions.

Did returning to study accelerate or slow down your career?

Accelerated, for sure. To be honest, I wasn’t too worried about (the career break), I was ready for a change, and it was fine.

Where are you now?

I graduated a few months ago and have found an amazing job, working in a private practice. I’d like to work for public health – one of my goals is to make systemic change within the whole entire health system, not within just the discipline of speech pathology.

What did you study before the Master of Speech Language Pathology?

I have a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and a Master of Business Administration. I had always wanted to work in marketing, so that was my first choice out of high school. I ended up as an account manager at a local software company, but after two years realised I didn't enjoy the technology sector, or the role, and instead went looking for something more meaningful.

How did you decide to change careers?

I had lengthy discussions with my husband about needing to find a career that was meaningful, where I felt I was making a difference to people, and had some flexibility to balance family and work.  My husband is a firefighter and loves his work, and I too wanted to wake up wanting to go to work, not dreading it. Speech pathology seemed like a great option for ticking all the boxes.

Where are you now?

It has been 4.5 years since I took my first job as a speech pathologist and I am currently enjoying working as a senior speech pathologist in a specialised field with an incredibly interesting and diverse caseload. I’ve found that my prior skills in managing teams and efficient workflows have aided my progression into senior/leadership roles.

Do you have job satisfaction?

I’m very satisfied – I have no plans to move anywhere, as each day and year seems to bring new challenges and opportunities for clinical and professional growth. I love making a difference in patients’ lives every day.

The Master of Speech Language Pathology is a graduate entry master's (GEM) course, and allows you to gain a professional qualification in just two years. Find out more about why a GEM degree is right for you.

10 August 2018