A speech therapist, also known as Speech-Language Pathologist, is a healthcare professional who specializes in the assessment and treatment of communication disorders, including speech, language, voice, fluency, and swallowing disorders. They work with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, and may provide services in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, and private practices. SLPs are highly trained professionals who use evidence-based practices and the latest technology to help their clients improve their communication skills and overall quality of life.
Table of Contents
The Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) sets the rules and regulations for certification in audiology and speech-language pathology (SLP). The CFCC revised the SLP Standards for Certification in 2017, including a modification to Standard IV-A that requires completion of coursework in chemistry or physics to meet the physical science requirement. These changes apply to applicants who apply under the 2020 SLP standards.
All courses and classes listed in Standards IV-A through IV-C must be completed and passed at the undergraduate or graduate level at an accredited institution and must appear on the applicant’s undergraduate or graduate transcripts. Classes taken at the high school level are not eligible to meet this requirement except for advanced placement (AP) courses that appear for credit on the applicant’s college or university transcript.
Coursework in biological sciences, physical sciences, social/behavioral sciences, and statistics cannot be related to speech-language pathology, audiology, communication sciences, hearing sciences, or logopedia unless they fulfill a university general education requirement and are available to students who are not majoring in communication sciences and disorders (CSD).
Program directors must evaluate course descriptions or syllabi of courses completed prior to the student entering the program to determine if they provide foundational knowledge in physics or chemistry. They have the authority to accept or reject previously completed coursework from programs accredited by the Council for Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA).
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are not accepted as coursework. Examples of MOOCs include Educause, MOOC.org, edX, Coursera, and Khan Academy.
For general biology, courses should cover anatomy, biology, cell and molecular biology, computational biology, ecology and evolution, environmental biology, forensic biology, genetics, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biosciences, natural science, neurobiology, neurology, physiology, and zoology.
For physical science, program directors should evaluate course descriptions or syllabi to determine if the content provides foundational knowledge in physics or chemistry. A broad understanding of principles in both chemistry and physics is directly applicable to many clinical domains in speech-language pathology.
Certification to become a Speech therapist
To apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), applicants must meet the 2020 Standards for Certification in Speech-Language Pathology. Applicants must have completed all necessary coursework and graduate clinical practicum in an accredited program and have received confirmation from their program director before submitting an online application with dues and fees payment.
Additional required documents include passing Praxis exam scores, an official graduate transcript, a Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship (SLPCF) Report and Rating Form, and disclosure documents, if applicable. Applicants can expect the review process to take approximately six weeks. The maintenance of certification and/or membership requires payment of annual dues and fees and continuing professional development.
Framework for SLP practices
The framework for speech-language pathology practice focuses on optimizing communication and swallowing abilities to improve quality of life. The practice is committed to providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services, and decisions are based on the best available evidence. The scope of practice includes five domains of professional practice and eight domains of service delivery. The diagnostic categories in the speech-language pathology scope of practice are consistent with relevant diagnostic categories under the WHO’s ICF, the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM, and the categories of disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Domains of service delivery
The field of speech-language pathology service delivery encompasses eight domains, which include:
- Collaboration: working with other professionals, such as doctors and teachers, to help individuals with communication disorders.
- Counseling: providing emotional support and guidance to individuals with communication disorders and their families.
- Prevention and wellness: promoting healthy communication habits and preventing communication disorders from occurring.
- Screening: testing individuals for communication disorders to identify potential problems early on.
- Assessment: evaluating individuals with communication disorders to determine the nature and extent of their difficulties.
- Treatment: developing and implementing interventions to help individuals with communication disorders improve their skills.
- Modalities, technology, and instrumentation: using various tools, such as computers and specialized equipment, to help individuals with communication disorders improve their skills.
- Population and systems: studying the impact of communication disorders on society and advocating for policies and programs to improve access to speech-language pathology services.
Domains of professional practice
There are five domains within the field of speech-language pathology professional practice, including:
- Advocacy and outreach: promoting awareness and understanding of communication disorders and advocating for individuals with communication disorders.
- Supervision: overseeing and guiding the work of other professionals and students in the field of speech-language pathology.
- Education: providing instruction to individuals with communication disorders and to other professionals in the field.
- Research: conducting studies to improve our understanding of communication disorders and to develop new treatments and interventions.
- Administration and leadership: managing programs and services related to speech-language pathology and leading teams of professionals in the field.
Service Delivery Areas
The different areas of speech-language pathology service delivery include fluency, speech production, language, cognition, voice, resonance, feeding and swallowing, and auditory habilitation/rehabilitation. Potential causes of communication and swallowing disorders are also within the area of service of SLP, and elective services such as transgender communication, preventive vocal hygiene, business communication, accent/dialect modification, and professional voice use are also included. You can refer to the ASHA Practice Portal for a more extensive list.
Speech-language pathology is a vital healthcare profession that focuses on the assessment and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders. Speech-language pathologists work with people of all ages and in various settings to improve their communication and overall quality of life. To become a certified speech-language pathologist, individuals must complete coursework in chemistry or physics, pass the Praxis exam, and fulfill other requirements as outlined by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
The field of speech-language pathology practice is committed to providing evidence-based services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Through collaboration, counseling, prevention and wellness, screening, assessment, treatment, and the use of technology and instrumentation, speech-language pathologists help individuals with communication disorders achieve their communication goals.