Innovators Guide



Speech Language Pathologist Training

A master's degree is the most common level of education among speech-language pathologists. Licensure or certification requirements also exist, but vary by State.

Education and training. Most speech-language pathologist jobs require a master's degree. The Council on Academic Accreditation is an entity of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; it accredits postsecondary academic programs in speech-language pathology. While graduation from an accredited program is not always required, it is required by some States for licensure and is mandatory for professional credentialing from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. In 2009, about 240 colleges and universities offered graduate programs, at both the master�s and doctoral levels, in speech-language pathology accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation. Speech-language pathology courses cover anatomy, physiology, and the development of the areas of the body involved in speech, language, and swallowing; the nature of disorders; principles of acoustics; and psychological aspects of communication. Graduate students may also learn to evaluate and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders as part of curriculum in supervised clinical practicum.

Licensure and certification. In 2009, 47 States regulated speech-language pathologists. Typical licensing requirements are a master�s degree from an accredited college or university; a passing score on the national examination on speech-language pathology, offered through the Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service; 300 to 375 hours of supervised clinical experience; and 9 months of postgraduate professional clinical experience. Most States have continuing education requirements for licensure renewal. Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurers generally require a practitioner to be licensed to qualify for reimbursement. For specific regulation and eligibility requirements contact your State�s regulatory board.

State regulation of speech-language pathologists may differ for pathologists practicing in schools. For information on State regulation of speech-language pathologists in public schools contact your State�s Department of Education. The Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) credential offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a voluntary credential; however, the CCC-SLP meets some or all of the requirements for licensure in some States. To earn a CCC, a person must have a graduate degree from an accredited university, which typically includes a 400-hour supervised clinical practicum, complete a 36-week full-time postgraduate clinical fellowship, and pass the Praxis Series examination in speech-language pathology administered by the Educational Testing Service.

Other qualifications. Speech-language pathologists should be able to effectively communicate diagnostic test results, diagnoses, and proposed treatment in a manner easily understood by their patients and their families. They must be able to approach problems objectively and be supportive. Because a patient's progress may be slow, patience, compassion, and good listening skills are necessary.

Advancement. As speech-language pathologists gain clinical experience and engage in continuing professional education, many develop expertise with certain populations, such as preschoolers and adolescents, or disorders, such as aphasia and learning disabilities. Some may obtain board recognition in a specialty area, such as child language, fluency, or feeding and swallowing. Experienced clinicians may become mentors or supervisors of other therapists or be promoted to administrative positions.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition

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