Want a Career as a Speech-Language Pathologist? Ask a Professional

@thumper1 is a career speech pathologist, working in school settings primarily. She’s done so for over 40 years. She is retired from full-time work but continue to do per diem and private work.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences and a Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she has taken advanced graduate courses in special education, administration, and literacy.

She is certified by and a lifetime member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association. She’s am also licensed and state board of education certified in my state to provide services.

@thumper1 is happy to draw on her knowledge and experience to help students so make sure to ask her your questions below.

Are you a professional willing to share your journey and offer career guidance to our community?

Send me a private message and let me know! We are looking to host a series of forum AMAs with verified hosts in February aimed at helping students pick a major and plan their careers.


Hi Everyone!
Being a speech language pathologist is a very rewarding…and flexible career. Speech pathology is considered an allied health profession. Jobs can be in schools, hospitals, clinics, skilled care, small agencies, or private practice. You can choose to work full or part time in many cases.

Right now, there is a huge shortage of speech language pathologists nationwide, with job openings in many, many places.

On this AMA, I will be giving information on the education process to become an SLP (speech language pathologist) and provide some resources so you can research further.

What questions do you have? I’d like to answer those as well.


Would love to know more about the educational requirements. Thanks!

Ok…let’s start with the education requirements!

To become a licensed and certified speech language pathologist, the degree you must have is a masters degree. So…here is what usually happens.

  1. Students get a bachelors degree taking whatever courses are required for admission to masters speech programs. These include a course in language development, for example.

These courses:

  • Anatomy & Physiology of the Speech Mechanism.
  • Phonetics (transcription skills)
  • Language Acquisition (also called Language Development)
  • Communication Disorders.

Some masters programs will give you admission and offer courses to fulfill these prerequisite courses. But that will add time to your masters.

You can really major in anything but often the speech courses are not all that easy for non-majors to get. This varies by college.

Some colleges offer an undergrad degree in speech language pathology or communication disorders. That’s what I did, and what most of my colleagues did as well. But there were also some who majored in other things in undergrad school.

  1. Students then apply to masters programs. Some take a gap year or two to get some student work experience as a para educator or something like that. That’s never a bad thing.

Masters programs are a bit competitive…so your undergrad performance will be considered.

It’s very important to go to a masters program that is accredited by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). This will enable you to more easily get your certification from them…and also will make it easier to get state licensing. Accredited programs all meet the same ASHA standard if excellence.

  1. As part of your masters, you will be required to complete a lot of supervised clinical hours in the field. These will be offered and organized by your masters program.

  2. Once you have completed your masters, you will be required to do one year of supervised work…for ASHA, this is called your Clinical Fellowship Year. Some states have different names…Supervised Clinical Year, for example. But the good news…this is done as a paid job!

  3. Your supervisor and you will have some documentation to complete…and then you apply for ASHA certification and state licensure. If you plan to work in public schools, you will also need to get State Department if Education certification.

Whew. That sounds like a LOT.


One thing to add. Speech Language Pathologists just about everywhere welcome the chance to discuss the career, and have prospective students shadow. I had numerous students do this with me over many years!

So…ask around. Your public schools definitely have a SLP on staff! You could start there!


Thanks for doing this @thumper1!

How long is a typical masters program?

Why is there a shortage of Speech Language Pathologists?


How long is a typical masters program?

The typical masters program is two years in length.

Why is there a shortage of Speech Language Pathologists?

A few reasons.

  1. There are a limited number of masters programs with a limited number of filled seats. As needs in all places have increased, these programs have not.

  2. There are some places where attrition affects job availability. Many folks are retiring, retiring early, transitioning to part time work, etc.

  3. More rural areas are experiencing a more significant shortage. It’s my opinion that working in these areas is not perhaps as desirable for some job applicants. But that’s my opinion.


Just to add… My daughter got her undergrad but not in speech. She’s now doing a Post Bac to get her required classes for speech pathology. Instead of going year round with classes then going right into a masters program it was suggested she gets her Speech Pathology assistance license(or something like that) they actually pay really well and she works under a licensed Speech pathologist. People who did this in the Masters program told her it makes the Masters program much easier. She told me how competitive it was to even get into the program and she feels the work experience will only aid her. So far she loves it.

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Yes, some states actually have certification for SLPAs…Speech Language Pathology Assistants. Programs are very limited, and as noted by @Knowsstuff can be competitive.

Pay is variable…as are job prospects.

This also adds time to moving towards completing all the work…but certainly is an option.

ALL SLPA work must be supervised by a certified and licensed SLP. Some districts have determined this is valuable to them…and others not.

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Wow. I’m a PT, and am the director of rehab for a large home care agency. I have several PTAs and COTAs on my staff. And one full time SLP. I had NO IDEA that SLPA was even a thing! Have never heard of it in my 27 plus years of being a PT.

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Your state might not have certification or a program for SLPAs. Some do…and some don’t. Maybe that is why you don’t know about this.

Plus I will add…your one SLP would be responsible for spending a significant amount of time supervising this person…it’s a requirement in every state I know of that has these certified positions.

SLPAs have a limited scope of practice. You can check your state to see if they have these there.

Great information. My D is a happy SLP. Just wanted to note that she also had to take and pass the PRAXIS exam (FWIW she found the comprehensive exam for her masters program to be a much more demanding test). There was also another test for her teaching licence but not sure if all states have those.

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Well…in terms of exams…

  1. To get the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence, one must take the exam for that! Accredited programs will give you the timeline…and prepare you well. Also, masters students are encouraged to join ASHA as student members…this makes the transfer to regular membership a little easier.

  2. Some states will require the additional praxis tests if you are getting state department of education certification.

This ASHA link gives very complete information about all of the ASHA requirements (which align with state licensure just about everywhere…but might not align with state department of education certification in some places)

The SLPA’s that worked under me, got their certifications from their schools, in different counties than where I was posted.
It takes a lot of time to supervise them because they all had different levels of education in the area of speech. One of them was very experienced in working with children, and she could take my lesson plan and know exactly what to do with them.

But for the majority of them, I had to show them how to read the IEP’s and how to match lesson plans to target the specific goals and what the expected outcome should be.

Great information here. Just got off the phone with my daughter. She’s in Portland Oregon and told me about her classes this sesmeter. Such interesting things she’s learning. She is scheduling to follow professors since one does something really interesting to her with mostly non verbal kids in a hospital setting. She has worked with theater for Autistic kids and worked in camps with them also. She has a lot of experience with children and teaching (young) but is not a teacher… Lol. I love how excited she is learning. If anyone knows of someone in Portland or around l
Pm me. She said her program she is looking into is very competitive. Have to almost have a perfect GPA to be considered. So far so good… :blush:

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There should be a state agency for speech language pathologists in Oregon. I’ve always found CASHA (California)to be extremely kind and helpful. I think our colleagues, in this field, are unique, and we all help each other out, no matter what.

This is the manner in which I got my NYU student. She was adamant that she wanted placement in California, with monolingual Spanish elementary students, because she wanted to practice her Spanish with kids and families. (No problem with my site’s demographics.) The kids absolutely loved her! She copied all of my homemade games, wrote out my ideas on cards, and thought that I was super creative. You have to be creative in this environment of video games and cell phones;)

Thanks. I told her on was on here and she said ask them if they know anyone :joy:… Lol. She’s very creative from her theater background and worked last year with a unique program with children with class’s held outside all year. Her boss came from Stanford and she said she learned so many theories about Children etc. She has made connections locally and developing more. It’s just fun to hear about what she is learning and the labs she is going to. Doing an audiology one tomorrow. She’s working close to full time (with children plus a reading specialist), so I get tired hearing about her day… Lol

She will be great! I’m not From Oregon, but I have a classmate in Washington. We all help each other out because we’re the only ones who really know the job.

We are getting a little off track here. If everyone would like, I can do some posts about SLPA jobs at the end of this.

Yes…making connections is important in terms of knowing about this field and what it takes to be a successful SLP applicant. But really, in my opinion, that is the case for all careers!

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