When I came out to Australia, I didn’t even plan on working as a speech pathologist here. I came here to travel and to work as an au pair. So, it’s a bit funny that I’m sitting here starting up a blog about how to work abroad in Allied Health in Australia, but here I am.
Let’s back up a bit. I’m from the United States and completed all my education in the US. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Michigan State University (Go Green!) and my Master of Science in Communicative Disorders from the University of Redlands. When I finished grad school, I relocated back to Michigan from California. I had a few interviews but didn’t have a job offer lined up straight away and knew I wanted to do my clinical fellowship year (CFY) in an acute care hospital if possible.
Since I didn’t have a job lined up, I decided to take some time to travel and figured I would worry about the job search when I returned. I went to Sicily for about five weeks to work as an au pair. As my time in Italy was coming to an end, I received an e-mail from an acute care hospital I had interviewed at earlier in the year. The hospital had another full-time position available now and wanted to see if I was interested. It seemed too good to be true, but I told them I would be returning from Italy soon and was definitely interested. I was offered the position and worked at that hospital for a bit over four years.
During that time, one of my best friends from grad school got engaged and invited me to her wedding in Alaska. I went out there for her wedding in August 2015. Although I’d taken some trips since starting my full-time job, my Alaska trip was really what got me inspired to do some more traveling. I needed to see more of the world.
I did briefly consider doing travel therapy in the US, but Australia was always a country that was high on my list of places to visit, so I looked into working as an au pair here as then I could do more than a couple weeks here without having absurd travel costs. I was 28 years old at the time and initially doubted if I should do it because, who quits their full-time SLP job to move across the world to work as an au pair? Well, apparently, I do.
Within a month or so from coming back from Alaska, I had a family lined up to au pair for and a one-way ticket to Australia. One of my best friends that I met working at the hospital came out to Australia with me for a couple weeks and we flew into Brisbane and traveled up the east coast to Cairns. When she left, I flew to Canberra to meet up with a friend from the US who was there as her husband was working there for a short time. After that, I flew to Darwin, where the family was that I would au pair for.
I arrived in Darwin in January 2016. I had a wedding coming up at the beginning of May and was part of the bridal party, so planned on going back to the US for that. I actually thought I would move back to the US for good then and look for another full-time position or potentially do travel therapy in the US. However, as the time was approaching for me to go back, I knew I wasn’t ready to go back for good – I’d fallen for Australia!
I met a great group of friends in Darwin and a few of them suggested that I look into seeing if I could be certified as a speech pathologist in Australia. They also said that speech pathologists were probably on the Skilled Occupation List and that I could probably get a different type of visa to stay longer – I originally came on a Work & Holiday Visa (462) which is good for a year.
Lots of research, document digging, and phone calls later, I submitted my Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) application to Speech Pathology Australia. That was the first step towards working here. Then, later in the year, I also submitted my visa application for my Skilled Independent Visa (189). With some advice from some of the SLPs that I randomly reached out to, I started the application process. Next came the job search – more on that later, but I lucked out and snagged a locum position in Darwin for 10 weeks.
It’s now August 2019, and it’s been over three and a half years since I first arrived. I’ve lived and worked in Darwin (about 7 months), Sydney (a bit over 2 years), and have just relocated to Perth in March of this year. I’ve done a locum position in acute care at a public hospital, have worked for a private hospital, have worked for two private practices here, and also as a contractor for an aged care company. I currently work as a contractor for a private practice (primarily working in aged care facilities or doing home visits) and also work as a contractor for a specific aged care company.
During my first year here, I was contacted by Julia (The Traveling Traveler) about writing a guest blog as she said she often got questions about working as a speech pathologist in Australia. After my guest blog was published, I started receiving e-mails with questions from other SLPs wanting to know about my experiences and the process I went through to be able to work here. I still get e-mails from the guest blog that I wrote, so I thought I’d start up my own blog about my experiences living and working in Australia. And that’s how Speech Down Under came to be.
I hope that my experiences can provide some inspiration for working, living, or traveling abroad! It is quite a process and can be overwhelming at times, but it is definitely do-able and definitely worth it!
Thanks for your support and for visiting Speech Down Under!