A speech-language pathologist specializes in assessing and treating various speech, voice, language, and swallowing disorders. Various individuals benefit from these professionals' services, whether they were born with these disorders or obtained them in an unfortunate accident. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Job Outlook between 2018 and 2028 should be about 27%. That's faster than average. Some reasons for this increase include a rising percentage of individuals with autism and the aging population of Baby Boomers. The growth in opportunities for this occupation can add to your motivation for becoming a speech-language pathologist.
Step 1: Completing the Undergraduate Program and Getting a Graduate Degree
You must first obtain a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders or CSD. Numerous undergraduate programs focus on categories like healthy language development and linguistics. You must finish one of these programs before you can get a Master's degree. Once you've done that, you can then complete a graduate program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. It's about 48 credits, and courses can be available online or part-time. Be sure to note the prerequisites needed for the college of your choice to get a Master's degree.
Step 2: Clinical Fellowship
Completing a post-graduate fellowship will help you gain additional paid experience. You may be required to obtain a temporary license, first. The rules vary by state, so make sure you check your area's preconditions to ensure you're not breaking the law. As long as you have your Master's degree, you are most likely qualified to apply for a temporary Speech-Language Pathology, also called SLP, license. Requirements for this fellowship can include working for about 35 hours a week for 36 weeks, performing clinical activities like assessment and counseling 80% of the time, and other conditions. You'll need to be supervised and mentored by a licensed speech-language professional.
Step 3: Speech-Language Pathology National Examination
The Praxis II: Subject Assessment in Speech-Language Pathology is required to get a state license. The Educational Testing Service, or ETS, provides this examination. The first thing you must do is register to take the exam. You'll be able to choose when to complete the test as well as choose the testing location that is most convenient for you. Check the passing requirements of the state you want to practice in, even though most have a score requirement of 162. Keep in mind that the exam will contain a wide range of topics, like professional practice, screening, and treatment evaluation.
Step 4: Apply for a State License
There are quite a few requirements to get your license, like filling out an application and paying an application fee. You'll also need ETS to submit your Praxis exam scores and your graduate degree transcripts from the institution from which you've obtained your Master's degree. You must present the results of a criminal background check and, depending on your state, the requirement to complete a course on HIV and AIDS. Getting your license isn't where it ends, though. A speech language pathologist is mandated to complete continuing education specifications. That is another factor that varies by state.
Once you've gotten all of your degrees, taken your exams, and finally obtained your state license, you're already a Speech-Language Pathologist. However, you can take your occupation further with professional certification. Then you can find a speech-language pathology job position more easily. Certification could also increase your chances of getting a better salary, greater progression in your career, and other possibilities. You can apply for this title once you have completed step 3.