6 Steps to Become a Speech Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathology or simply SLP is a core area of study in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). As a Speech-Language Pathologist, you will be part of a growing number of professionals who focus on the prevention, diagnosis, diagnosis, and treatment of speech, language, social interactions, cognitive communication, and swallowing disorders in different patients. Do Population – Speech Challenges From Young Children to Elderly Stroke Victims. Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) is consistently ranked as one of the most fulfilling and desirable jobs for many reasons. SLPs not only enjoy significant job stability, high salaries, and a variety of career advancement options, but they also play a direct role in improving the lives and well-being of their patients so we are going to discuss 6 Steps to Become a Speech Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists have a master’s degree, a state license, and often national certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Although licensing requirements vary slightly from state to state, all licensing boards require SLP professional candidates to complete pre-licensing professional experience requirements and have a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology.

6 Steps to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist

Here are the steps to becoming a speech-language pathologist

Steps to Become a Speech Language Pathologist

Step 1: Undergraduate Degree

Getting your bachelor’s degree is an important first step in becoming a speech-language pathologist. If possible, choose a major that is relevant to your career goals, such as Communication Science and Disease (CSD), Psychology, Education, Linguistics, English, or Language Development.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), more than 200 institutions currently offer undergraduate degrees (Bachelor of Science) in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD).

The Bachelor’s degree in CSD ensures a smooth transition to the CSD Master’s program. Although an undergraduate degree in CSD is not required for admission to the CSD graduate program, it may eliminate the need to meet certain conditions before starting graduate education.

Step 2: SLP Master’s Degree

Must earn a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) from a program accredited or in candidacy status for accreditation by the Council for Academic Accreditation (CAA), based on state requirements. The benefit of such a program is that it generally combines an academic course load with practical clinical exposure. MS-SLP programs incorporate 400 hours of clinical experience through clinical internships so that graduating students meet the national certification requirements mandated by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Per ASHA guidelines, of the 400 required clinical hours, 25 of those hours must be in the form of guided clinical observation, which is often best accomplished in the classroom. The remaining 375 hours must involve direct contact with the client/patient.

Prerequisites for acceptance into a speech-language pathology master’s program typically include:

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Recommendation letters
  • A statement of purpose or essay
  • GRE test results with an analytical writing score of 3.0 or higher
    Completion of these basic core classes:

    • biology
    • chemistry or physics
    • Statistics
    • Social or behavioral sciences

Related undergraduate majors, such as CSD, typically incorporate the core classes required to advance to graduate school. However, if you do not have the prerequisites, you will need to take SLP remedial courses before starting your master’s degree.

Step 3: Clinical Fellowship

After finishing your master’s program, you must complete 1260 hours of clinical experience and a minimum of 36 weeks of full-time (or part-time equivalent) experience working under the guidance of a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) Certified Mentor within two years.1 This transitional work experience helps candidates progress from supervised practice to independent practice.

To gain this valuable clinical experience, you may need to obtain a temporary license (also known as a “limited license” or “intern license”) from your state’s board of speech-language pathology and audiology. Requirements to qualify to include a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited CAA program and a mentor-approved plan to complete your clinical fellowship.

Step 4: The Praxis Exam

During your clinical fellowship, the fourth step of becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist is the praxis Exam. you must register to take the Praxis in Speech-Language Pathology exam, administered by Education Testing Service (ETS). Students must earn at least 1622 points out of 200 to pass the exam and move toward certification as an SLP. Reaching this goal is a requirement to be eligible for the final steps.

Step 5: National ASHA Certification & State Licensing

Perhaps the most important step in this journey is obtaining your official credentials as a speech-language pathologist. ASHA, which oversees the certification process, lists four requirements you must meet to earn your Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP):

  • An official transcript from your graduate school verifying your graduation date and degree
  • Your official Praxis score (sent directly from ETS)
  • A Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship (SLP-CF) report documenting completion of 1,260 hours of mentored clinical experience and 36 weeks of full-time experience (or equivalent)
  • Documentation of your 400 hours of supervised clinical experience, comprised of 375 hours of direct patient/client contact and 25 hours of clinical observation

Each state has its own guidelines for licensing. Certain states require fewer hours of clinical experience than others. Some state-specific requirements may depend on the setting you plan to work in, such as education, telemedicine, or early intervention. See the ASHA State-by-State resource page for more information.

 

Step 6: Continuing Education Courses

Like all health professionals, speech therapists continue to learn and grow professionally throughout their careers. Some states may require SLPs to update and increase their skills by taking a minimum number of continuing education units (CEUs). See state license information for clarification.

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