How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech-language pathologists can opt to earn a Bachelor of Science Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) before starting a graduate program, or other prerequisites as determined by the school.
Academic requirements are fairly stringent, and include a graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from a Council on Academic Accreditation accredited program, a supervised postgraduate fellowship, and a national exam.
Finally, a state license for Audiology or Speech-Language Pathology is needed in most states before you can begin to practice.
1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
Although there is no specific undergraduate major required to become a Speech-Language Pathologist, most students looking to go into the field, major in Communication or Speech and Hearing Sciences. These majors give students the pre-requisites required for graduate-level speech therapy classes.
Below is a table of classes you can expect to take to become a speech-language pathologist:
|Grade Level||Example Courses|
After obtaining your bachelor's degree, you must go on to get a Master's in Speech-Language Pathology. It is required by every state to get your licensure.
2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)
Most graduate programs revolving around forensic science require the GRE for admittance. It's a 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam that covers analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.
The GRE is broken down into six primary sections:
|1 Analytical Writing Section||
|2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections||
|2 Verbal Reasoning Sections||
|1 Unscored Section||
You can find study materials, GRE registration, and test scores on the GRE website.
3. Earn a Master's in Speech-Language Pathology (2 Years)
A Master's Degree is crucial in becoming a speech-language pathologist because grad-school is where you actually specialize in your field and focus in on Speech-Language Pathology.
The graduate program introduces you to different concepts you might have touched on in under-grad, but you will come to understand them fully and start developing your professional skills and abilities to create treatment plans.
These concepts include:
- Voice Articulation
- Neurological Substrates
You can also specialize in certain fields during your Master's like: early intervention, providing therapy to school-aged children, or in neurogenic disorders.
You will conduct supervised clinical practicums to diagnose and treat patients, which will expose you to hands-on training and orient you with your duties as a working professional.
4. Earn a Certification in Speech-Language Pathology
After all the school and all the work, you still must earn your American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) credentials by completing 400 hours of supervised clinical experience.
ASHA offers credentialing for speech therapists in academic programs, clinical practice, continuing education, and clinical specialty recognition.
Once you complete your 400 hours you will get ASHA's Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) which satisfies all or parts of every states requirements.
5. Earn the Required License
Your CCC-SLP credentials may satisfy most states requirements, but in others you have to jump through more hoops to become a practicing SLP.
In the states that have their own specific requirements to become a SLP, it mainly comes down to obtaining your Master's, fulfilling a set number of supervised clinical practicum hours, and passing certain exams.
6. Maintain Certification Through Continuing Education
Each state is different, but some require SLPs to continue their education to remain licensed. And After all the work it takes to become one, it's best to find out your states requirements and abide.
Many of the education requirements can be met by attending seminars, workshops, or taking classes; they help keep SLPs current on standards, practices, and trends.