How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist

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
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • College Algebra & Statistics
  • Introduction to Kinesiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I & Lab
  • American Sign Language I
  • Behavioral Statistics
  • Introduction to Human Communication Disorders
  • Anatomy and Physiology of the Auditory and Vocal Mechanism
  • Phonetics of American English Language Development in Children
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Articulation and Phonological Disorders
  • Hearing Science
  • Language Disorders in Children
  • Speech Science
  • Introduction to Audiology
  • Introduction to Aural Rehabilitation
  • Neurological and Functional Disorders of Speech, Language and Voice Clinical Audiology
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Independent Study in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
  • Directed Readings in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
  • Proctoring in Speech-Language
  • Pathology and Audiology
  • Introduction to the Helping Relationship
  • Applied Grammar
  • Introduction to Stuttering Introduction to Special Education
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

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:

Section Section Breakdown
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas.
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • 20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data.
2 Verbal Reasoning Sections
  • 20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

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
  • Phonology
  • Literacy
  • 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.