Our team of educational experts has pulled information regarding state licensing in this field and input some helpful steps in the guide below. As you explore the different steps required in your state, you should plan ahead to ensure that you are meeting each requirement as you move along in your path.
License Requirements from State to State
Like many other treatment fields across the country, becoming a speech pathologist requires that you obtain a license in your state. The rules and regulations for speech pathology licensure can vary depending on the state you live in, making it necessary to do your research before committing to any degree program.
Most states have a specific licensing board through the state's department that is responsible for regulating licensure and approving new applications for speech pathology licenses. In most cases, you can find this department through searching your state's website.
Standard SLP Degree Requirements
Regardless of which state you live in, you can expect to obtain a minimum of a Master's in Speech Pathology before becoming eligible for licensing. Master's programs in this field can provide you with advanced knowledge in speech disorders and treatment, as well as provide you with the opportunity to exercise your skills during practicum or supervised internship experiences.
States that license speech pathologists require that degree programs be accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). There is a multitude of available institutions that consist of this type of accreditation located in all states in the U.S.
What you learn while in your degree program may also be evaluated during the state licensing process. The educational expectations include specific course requirements, including classes focusing on the biological foundations of speech and disorders, behavioral science, human communication, and ethics for speech pathology providers. Some states also provide a detailed list of required courses through their agency website.
During the application process for licensure, you are expected to have your institution send an original copy of your transcripts to the licensing agency for review. This is in addition to a copy of your diploma, as well a documentation of your experience and fellowship.
Your review of your state's requirements for licensure may also introduce you to varying expectations of practical experience. In some degree programs, students may be given the opportunity to exercise their abilities during internships at speech pathology agencies within their area. Other institutions focus strictly on the educational component for licensure, allowing students to choose their own path for clinical experience after graduation.
Although the specific hour requirements can sometimes vary, you can expect to see similarities in the amount of time listed for licensure from state to state. Overall, a total of 400 supervised hours and 36 weeks of a fellowship in speech pathology are often required, under the direct supervision of a licensed professional in your field.
The clinical component to licensure can include the opportunity to learn from experienced and licensed professionals, as well as an introduction to hands-on experience with actual clients. A majority of your clinical experience requirement will involve your direct implementation of speech services to clients, making this part of licensure extremely important to your expertise as a professional.
Is Board Certification Required?
There are many practical fields in health and mental health that require licensees to receive board certification prior to license acquisition. In the field of speech pathology, the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) from the ASHA can be an optional path to licensure - but only in some states. Other states may also require this type of certification during the licensure process.
Depending on where you live, taking the extra steps toward certification could be a time-saving step that leads you into licensure. If you live in one of the states listed below, the CCC-SLP certification may be a requirement for you to achieve prior to receiving your license.
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
A majority of alternative states may offer you the option of using board certification as one potential path to licensure. As an alternative, these states may also allow you to provide proof of education, experience, and fellowship through the initial application process in order to become licensed without board certification.
State Licensing Boards
While you sort through all of the requirements for licensing in your state, you might notice that your state’s licensing board differs from boards in other states. Each state develops its own professional board for clinical professionals in all licensed fields, so that a panel of experienced experts can make recommendations on applying licensees.
As an example, Rhode Island’s licensing board, the Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology consists of licensed professionals in both speech pathology and audiology. These professionals are elected to terms, during which they review and approve licensure applications from upcoming candidates.
This screening process can allow for unbiased reviews of candidate applications, issues related to ethical practice, and decision making for licensure expectations in the field. To learn more about your state’s board of examiners in speech pathology, you should begin your search through your state’s main website.
State License Maintenance
Once you have received your license to practice speech pathology within your state, you may be expected to adhere to renewal and continuing education requirements throughout the course of your licensure period. Professionals in speech pathology should be aware of the renewal period for their license, so that they can reapply within the required time frame. The licensing period in most states is currently 2 years, making it necessary to prepare and submit all necessary applications and documentation before the deadline within this period.
In some states, there are very specific requirements for continuing education throughout the licensure period. One state that licenses speech pathologists requires that licensees participate in 18 hours of clinically-related CE classes, 10 hours of non-clinical CE classes, and 2 hours of medical error courses.
Most CE courses are provided to speech pathologists for a fee, which can vary depending on the source of your training. Renewal fees through your state may also be between $250 and $300 dollars depending on where you reside.