Speech Language Pathologists

What is a Speech Language Pathologist?

The field of speech pathology can be a great gateway to assisting others with developing a better quality of life. If you are interested in becoming a part of this growing field, you should familiarize yourself with the different levels of licensure and certification that are currently trending across America.

The Speech Language Pathologist can utilize the SLP credential after meeting all state standards for licensure. These standards can vary depending on where you live, and can even have different paths that lead you into your professional license.

As you read through the guide provided below, you should consider whether the SLP general path would be the best option for you to consider along the way. A thorough review of your state's requirements for speech pathology professionals can also influence your educational and experience choices along the way, making a deep investigation into state requirements vital to your success.

What is a SLP?

The Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) is a professional that has met all of the state requirements set forth for licensed professionals in speech pathology. These credentials can be acquired through involvement in a rigorous master's level degree program, clinical experience requirement, testing, and state licensure application process.

The SLP is not the only credential available for upcoming professionals in this field, so you should recognize the difference between each one before making a decision about which option would be better for you. The SLP is the most popular option and can be obtained without further certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

In the guide below, you can read more about what is included on the path to receiving a license as a SLP, as well as some information that compares the SLP with an alternative certification path in speech pathology.

What are the educational requirements for SLPs?

Speech pathologists must first meet rigorous educational requirements set forth by their state's licensing agency. At the master's level, students in speech pathology degree programs can thoroughly explore the basics of human communication, as well as research diagnoses and treatments that can be influential on a person's ability to utilize functional communication skills.

The lowest degree program that you can achieve to become licensed in the master's. It is recommended that you choose the Master's in Speech Pathology or alternatively the Master's in Speech-Language Pathology. There are also certain specifications of your degree program that must also be scrutinized before solidifying your enrollment.

Degree programs that lead to licensing in this field must be reviewed and accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA's Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) is responsible for the regular review and approval of master's programs for upcoming licensed professionals in this field.

During your initial review of a potential degree program, you should locate the accreditation information and verify that it holds CAA accreditation. This type of accreditation can help you rest assured that your degree program can be directly applicable to a career in speech pathology and that it consists of topics that are current and relevant to the field.

What type of field training is required?

The journey towards the SLP credential may also involve training that takes place in the real-world environment. In total, you can expect to spend around 400 hours gaining relevant experience in the field, as well as a 36 week fellowship among your peers.

During this experience, you may spend a portion of your time observing licensed professionals providing speech services to the public. The first few weeks of your training may consist of accompanying your licensed supervisor during normal clinical hours, when may then be followed by a debriefing and a question/answer period.

Once you have conducted your observations, your supervisor may then allow you to begin working directly with clients in the field. It is at this point that you can exhibit the skills that you have learned during your degree program and observations.

Your work in the clinical environment is what essentially begins your career is a SLP. In order to ensure that you are remaining compliant with state requirements, you should recognize any application requirements for training, as well as keep up with the required supervision paperwork outlined by your state.

When you have completed the supervision period, your supervisor will need to sign off on your documentation for you to then send in to the state.

What tests will I need to take?

While your degree program and field experience can be extremely important to your success in the field, you may need to successfully pass a board examination prior to making the final steps into SLP licensing. The Praxis examination for speech pathologists is last stop during your training adventure and may require extensive studying and preparation for those planning to take it.

There are numerous resources, study guides, and overviews available throughout the internet that can assist you in making the best preparations for this examination. Students that have passed the Praxis examination recommend that students make additional time to study prior to taking the examination, since it contains many abstract ideas relating to practice in the field.

Your clinical experience can be helpful to students preparing to take this exam, since some of the questions may relate directly to scenarios that can occur in the practical environment. This test is conducted at a proctored testing center and may have a specific time frame available for you to complete it in.

After you have passed this examination, your state may require that you forward your test results into the state’s licensing department along with documentation from your degree program and experience.

What is the difference between the SLP and CCC-SLP?

During your review of licensing requirements in your state, you might note that there might be alternative paths to achieving your license to practice. Not all states require that speech pathologists hold certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), making it possible to bypass this extra step along your way.

A large majority of states allow you to choose either the standard SLP path that was outlined above or first receive certification prior to applying for licensure. The SLP path is directly specifically by your states requirements, while the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) is governed directly by ASHA.

The educational and experience requirements for both paths are similar in both paths, making your preference on certification a factor in determining which option would be better for the career you are seeking.