How to become a speech pathologist

How to become a speech pathologist


Speech-language pathology is a broad topic that involves much more than communication difficulties. Lessons on accent reduction and how to assist children who are highly picky eaters to ingest food so that they are well-nourished, for example, are included in this area of study. 

Speech-language pathologists treat a wide range of speech impairments as well as language comprehension issues. They help persons with developmental impairments learn social skills, offer direction to people with cognitive issues, and intervene when someone has trouble swallowing food or beverages. 

These therapists regularly counsel people who can’t hear well on how to communicate with others and understand what they’re saying, as well as showing people who can’t talk how to communicate via picture boards and technological equipment. 

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How to Become a Speech-Language Pathologist: A Step-by-Step Guide 

People interested in becoming speech-language pathologists should accomplish all of the following tasks: 

  • Pursue a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology and enroll in college courses related to the field. 
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s EdFind Tool can help you find accredited master’s programs in speech-language pathology. 
  • Get appropriate work experience and an excellent graduate school application with good grades, essays, and letters of recommendation. 
  • If the selected graduate school considers GRE scores, do well on the GRE General Test. 
  • Obtain admission to a master’s program, preferably with a significant scholarship to help defray costs. 
  • A master’s degree in speech-language pathology is required. 
  • Complete a clinical speech-language pathology residency. 
  • Take and pass the Praxis Examination in Speech-Language Pathology, a national exam that evaluates knowledge of core concepts and contemporary practices in the field. 
  • If your state offers or requires it, obtain a state license to practice independently. 
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA, will certify you.

Take part in a Post-Graduate Fellowship program. 

Following the completion of your CAA-accredited graduate degree, you would commence your post-graduate fellowship. 

You may need to apply for a temporary license (also known as an intern or limited license) with your state’s board of speech-language pathology and audiology before beginning your clinical fellowship in speech-language pathology. 

You must have a master’s or doctoral degree from a CAA-accredited program and submit a clinical fellowship plan signed by a licensed supervisor to qualify for a temporary license. 

Temporary licenses are usually only good for a year, which is just enough time to do your clinical residency. 

State licensing requires practical training through a speech-language pathology clinical residency. Clinical fellowships in speech-language pathology are a period of training performed under the direction and supervision of a licensed speech-language pathologist. 

The length of a clinical fellowship varies by state, however most states mandate fellowships to run 36 weeks (1,260 hours). 

Many states follow the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s clinical fellowship criteria for earning the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-SLP) credential, which requires a clinical fellowship to: 

Be available for at least 36 weeks, working 35 hours per week for a total of 1,260 hours. 

Be mentored by a speech-language pathologist who is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 

Have at least 80% direct clinical interaction, such as through assessment, diagnosis, evaluation, screening, counseling, and other activities. 

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Take a Speech-Language Pathology National Exam 

To obtain state licensure, you must complete and pass the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Praxis II: Subject Assessment in Speech-Language Pathology. Generally, you can take this exam at any time after completing a CAA-accredited graduate degree. The Praxis is taken by the majority of students at some time during their clinical fellowship. 

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For the Praxis II: Subject Assessment in Speech-Language Pathology, you must register directly with ETS. You can select the exam venue and date that best suits your needs throughout the registration process. There are testing facilities all around the country. You may find out more about nearby exam centers here. 

Although most states follow the CCC-SLP certification minimum standards of a score of 162, each state has its own Praxis exam passing score requirements. 

Attend Speech Pathology Continuing Education. 

There are various options for continuing your study in speech pathology once you receive your master’s degree. 

In fact, some jurisdictions may require you to complete a certain amount of continuing education units in order to renew your license (CEUs). Consult the requirements of your state’s occupational therapy board. 

Completing classes, attending seminars, or participating in workshops are all examples of ways to earn continuing education credits. 

Taking advantage of these training opportunities is a fantastic method for Speech Pathologists to stay current on industry standards and developments, even if CEUs are not needed by your state. They’re also useful for strengthening your resume and career prospects in the field of speech pathology. 

You might also want to consider joining a professional association that caters to speech pathologists. Such groups provide excellent networking opportunities as well as possibilities to earn continuing education credits.

What is the Role of a Speech Pathologist? 

Speech-language pathologists help children and adults with swallowing and communication problems. Most causes of speech-related problems are also identified by these practitioners. 

Individuals who have difficulty with language and speech, or who are unable to talk at all, are frequently seen by speech pathologists. Other clients may be dealing with cognitive or social issues that make speaking and communication difficult. Vocal rhythm issues, language comprehension issues, stuttering, and voice disorders are all addressed by speech pathologists. 

Clients are taught how to make vocal sounds, increase vocal fluencies, and improve oral language skills by some speech-language pathologists. Some of these experts also assist clients in strengthening the muscles that allow them to talk and swallow. They may devise treatment strategies that are tailored to the needs of their customers. 

Speech therapists are required to keep meticulous records and billing information. They also keep track of their clients’ progress and any problems they have with their treatment plans. Many of these experts specialize on a specific age group or communication issue. Physicians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists are often collaborators. 

Salary and Job Demand for Speech Pathologists 

The majority of speech-language pathologists work full-time. They can collaborate with speech therapists and audiologists in healthcare, education, skilled nursing institutions, and office environments. Some education professionals travel between two or more schools on a regular basis. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for speech pathologists will expand by 25% between 2019 and 2029, substantially greater than the overall predicted growth rate of 4%. Because of the expanding population of senior citizens, demand for these specialists is expected to rise. 

Speech pathologists made a median annual salary of $80,480 in 2020, according to the BLS. Depending on the area and context, a speech pathologist’s income can rise. Professionals working in nursing and residential care institutions, for example, received a median pay of $95,010 in 2020, compared to $87,110 for those working in hospitals. 

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Ontario’s Requirements for Becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist 

To become a Speech-Language Pathologist, you must first obtain a four-year Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university, followed by two or three years of graduate study to obtain a Master’s degree in SLP. Any undergraduate program will suffice as long as it includes the prerequisite courses that most Master’s programs require. 

Although the requirements for admission to a Master’s program in SLP differ by university, there are some commonalities, such as: 

A four-year bachelor’s degree from a reputable university is required. 

In the final 1-2 years of full-time study or throughout the four years, a least mid-B (3.0 GPA) average is required. 

4-6 prerequisites in infant development, linguistics, phonetics, statistics/research design, human physiology, life science, social science, and psychology must be completed. 

The ability to communicate in English and/or French. 

Clinical volunteer or paid experience working with a certified Speech-Language Pathologist is sometimes a prerequisite for admission. The Ontario Rehabilitation Sciences Programs Application Service is the only way to apply (ORPAS). 

A Speech-Language Pathologist’s Average Salary in Canada

According to Job Bank Canada, a Speech-Language Pathologist’s hourly income in Ontario ranges from $28.06 to $51.72, with a median of $42.56. A Speech-Language Pathologist earns between $58k and $107k per year in Ontario, with a median pay of $88k.

Northwestern University offers the best master’s degrees in speech pathology. 

Northwestern requires clinical courses during every quarter, including students’ first quarter in the master’s in speech pathology program, to offer learners with the most practical immersion feasible. The clinicals cover a wide range of speech and language topics, and graduates go on to work in a variety of capacities. 

The compulsory coursework teaches students how to make knowledgeable decisions and evaluate their own work. There are 16 core courses and seven clinical registrations required at Northwestern. The university operates on a quarter system, and full-time students can complete their studies in just seven quarters. 

Northwestern University is based in Evanston, Illinois, and has three campuses that serve 21,000 students, including many graduate students. The speech language pathology curriculum at the school mixes concept-based courses with hands-on experiences to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of modern speech and language theories and practices. 

Vanderbilt University is a private university in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Learners can also choose a speciality track in early detection and management of children with hearing loss, schooling, or thesis, which is geared for students interested in pursuing a career in research-based speech-language pathology. 

Vanderbilt University provides two speech-language pathology programs: one for students with a background in deaf communication services and another for those who are new to the profession. Both programs provide elective courses and conclude in a clinical externship in the Nashville region. The master’s in speech pathology, which is offered via the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, needs 49-59 semester credits, including summer study. Depending on prior experience, full-time students can complete this degree in 20-24 months. Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 as a result of a gift from Cornelius Vanderbilt. It is now one of the world’s top public research universities. Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, offers students high-quality educational programs as well as linkages to the region’s best businesses. 


Boston University’s master’s in speech pathology outcomes are among the finest in the country, with 100 percent of students graduating, passing the Praxis, and finding work in the last three years. The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology has granted BU’s program accreditation. 

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Due to the university’s ideal location in Boston, BU’s master of science in speech-language pathology, a two-year degree designed for students with any experience, is among the best speech pathology programs. The master’s program also has among of the smallest class numbers of any BU program, allowing students to receive lots of one-on-one clinical supervision. 

BU, which has a student body of almost 35,000, provides hundreds of programs to students from all walks of life. A graduate degree is pursued by over half of BU’s student body. With an average class size of only 27 students, the university maintains a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. 

New York University is a public university in New York City. 

Students in speech pathology can study abroad in Lund, Sweden, or Accra, Ghana, thanks to NYU’s global presence. Learners can choose to complete a thesis as part of their degree, which is ideal for those who want to work in a research-based field. 

NYU’s master’s in communication sciences and disorders is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology and trains students to become certified speech-language pathologists. Full-time study is required for the 48-credit program. Learners can select from a variety of courses, including those that satisfy different certification requirements, in addition to the obligatory practicum, clinical, and core courses. Most courses are also available online for those seeking a degree. 

While NYU’s headquarters are in New York City, the university has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. NYU is one of the country’s major private universities, with over 50,000 students and almost $1 billion in annual research funding. 


If you’re considering a career as a speech pathologist, these commonly asked questions can assist you in learning more: 

Is there a demand for speech pathologists? 

According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, employment of speech pathologists is expected to expand at a pace of 27 percent over the next decade, which is substantially faster than the average for all occupations. These professionals are in limited supply in schools and healthcare institutions around the country. This means that being a speech pathologist is a good career choice with plenty of job prospects and room for advancement. 

Speech therapists can operate in a variety of settings. 

Speech pathologists work in a range of healthcare settings, including clinics, hospitals, and non-profit organizations, as part of a team. They can also be found working in schools or on their own. 

What other job titles are there? 

Skills similar to those of a speech pathologist are used in a range of jobs, including: 

Specialist in rehabilitation 

National Average Hourly Wage: $16.52 

Primary Responsibilities: These healthcare professionals work to improve the lives of people with physical or mental disabilities by assisting them in living independently in their own homes. 

Physical therapists earn an average of $1,492 per week. 

Primary Responsibilities: A physical therapist’s job is to help patients with movement and discomfort after an illness or injury, allowing them to live as comfortably as possible. 

As of November 2019, the national average salary for an audiologist was $81,507 per year. 

Primary Responsibilities: An audiologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing problems. They apply their knowledge to examine a patient’s symptoms and try to figure out what’s causing the problem, which could be physical or mental.

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